By Matt Wiley
Construction is full-speed-ahead, as traffic patterns change and strange metal structures rise from the dust along multiple sections of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in New Tampa.
Area residents may have noticed a new traffic pattern along BBD just south of I-75 at Commerce Palms Blvd., as vehicles are now traveling northbound along newly reconstructed lanes, so construction can begin on the southbound stretch.
“We switched the northbound traffic to the new lanes so that we can remove the temporary lanes in the median,” says Scott Passmore, an engineer with KCI Technologies, the engineering firm heading the BBD widening project. “That traffic configuration will remain in effect until the project is complete.”
Passmore says that in that section of the construction project, storm drainage also needs to be installed before reconstruction of the southbound BBD lanes can begin. But, he says, that phase of the project is still on track to be completed by late this year.
Continuing north on BBD past I-75, drivers may have noticed a large, metal, T-shaped structure rising from the median in front of Cold Stone Creamery. It’s not some obscure piece of modern art, but actually something much more practical.
“It’s a support for a Dynamic Message Sign (DMS),” says Passmore. “There will be one installed north and south of I-75 on BBD by the time construction is complete.” Just as in some sections of I-75 and I-275, DMS’s are electronic signs programmed with important information drivers should know about the driving conditions on the interstate and are part of the state’s Sunguide Traffic Management System, which, according to its website, helps to provide motorists with reliable traveler information.
Whether it is a message from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) alerting drivers of a large accident and urging them to seek an alternate route, or a message from law enforcement warning drivers of an Amber alert, Passmore says that these signs are installed to keep drivers aware of what is happening on the interstate.
The benefit of these signs, he says, is that drivers can see messages about driving conditions before they get onto the interstate. However, if the need arises, he says, messages about driving conditions on BBD could be delivered.
“There will be some cross-functionality between the city and FDOT, but the primary focus is on the interstate,” Passmore says.