What is this study?

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is conducting a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study to look at ways to connect Whiting Street to Meridian Avenue to improve the grid network in eastern downtown Tampa. We are also looking at ways to improve operations and safety for Whiting Street between Jefferson Street and Brush Street, the Jefferson Street entrance ramp, and the downtown Tampa eastbound exit ramps. We’re looking at potential improvements that will enhance safety and community connections in downtown Tampa.

This website presents the alternatives we’ve developed, the process we have taken to get where we are, and the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.

Click the circles on the map below to learn more about the locations where improvements are being planned .

Improvement Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street

The study is looking at ways to complete the grid network by extending Whiting Street between Meridian Avenue and Brush Street, where it currently ends.

Improvement Location B: Whiting Street from Brush Street to Jefferson Street and the Intersection at the End of the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

The study is looking at improving Whiting Street between Brush Street and Jefferson Street, including the intersection at the end of the new exit ramp for Whiting Street (Exit 6B).

Improvement Location C: Jefferson Street Entrance Ramp and the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

The study is looking at a new exit ramp for Exit 6B (which currently connects to Channelside Drive), moving it to the northeast to connect to Whiting Street (see Location D). This would require the beginning of the Jefferson Street entrance ramp to shift to the north.

Improvement Location D: Removal of Exit Ramp 6B and Reconstruction of Exit Ramp 6A

Once the ramp for Exit 6B is moved to the northeast (see Location C), the existing ramp for Exit 6B would be removed and the ramp for Exit 6A to northbound Florida Avenue would be lengthened and widened.

Improvement Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street

The study is looking at ways to complete the grid network by extending Whiting Street between Meridian Avenue and Brush Street, where it currently ends.

Improvement Location B: Whiting Street from Brush Street to Jefferson Street and the Intersection at the End of the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

The study is looking at improving Whiting Street between Brush Street and Jefferson Street, including the intersection at the end of the new exit ramp for Whiting Street (Exit 6B).

Improvement Location C: Jefferson Street Entrance Ramp and the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

The study is looking at a new exit ramp for Exit 6B (which currently connects to Channelside Drive), moving it to the northeast to connect to Whiting Street (see Location D). This would require the beginning of the Jefferson Street entrance ramp to shift to the north.

Improvement Location D: Removal of Exit Ramp 6B and Reconstruction of Exit Ramp 6A

Once the ramp for Exit 6B is moved to the northeast (see Location C), the existing ramp for Exit 6B would be removed and the ramp for Exit 6A to northbound Florida Avenue would be lengthened and widened.

Why are we studying this project?

When THEA reconstructed Meridian Avenue, we made a commitment to the community that once the Con Agra flour mill was no longer located in downtown Tampa, we would remove the railroad tracks and help to restore the grid road network, connecting the center portion of downtown Tampa to the east. Now that the flour mill is moving, we are following through on that commitment. We are excited about how downtown is changing and growing, and we want to be part of the solution that makes getting around safer and easier.

Preview
Improve the Grid Road Network

The railroad tracks that run parallel to Meridian Avenue currently cut off Whiting Street from connecting to the east. Once the railroad tracks are removed, completing these connections to Meridian Avenue will provide a better grid-style road network in this area. Enhancing the east-west connectivity by connecting streets that are now cut off will make moving around the area safer and easier, and give more options for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

View East-West Connectivity Map
Preview
Accommodate Increased Traffic

New development is underway and bringing exciting changes to the southern portion of downtown Tampa. These changes will bring more people to the area, which means more cars, pedestrians, scooters, and bicycles. In addition, the planned widening of the Selmon Expressway south of the downtown exit ramps will alleviate congestion along the Selmon. However, the existing exit ramps currently do not hold enough vehicles to accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic that is projected in the future.

View the No Build Map

What are the conditions out there today that helped guide the study?

Click on the images below to see the conditions, considerations, and constraints that went into developing the two preliminary build alternatives.

Preview
Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street
Preview
Location B: Whiting Street from Brush Street to Jefferson Street and the Intersection at the End of the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp
Preview
Location C: Jefferson Street Entrance Ramp and the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp
Preview
Location D: Removal of Exit Ramp 6B and Reconstruction of Exit Ramp 6A
Preview
Location D: Removal of Exit Ramp 6B and Reconstruction of Exit Ramp 6A

What is our process?

For a project to be constructed, there is a process it must follow. Right now we are in the PD&E Study phase. A PD&E Study is an environmental and engineering process developed by the Florida Department of Transportation to look at the social, economic, natural, and physical environmental impacts of different alternatives in an effort to address a transportation challenge or need. The PD&E process is conducted openly to ensure there are no disproportionate impacts to the community.

The PD&E Study process includes four steps –

  1. Develop Alternatives
  2. Evaluate Alternatives
  3. Gather Public Comments
  4. Select Preferred Alternative

Read through each of the four steps below to see our process, a summary of the alternatives that are being considered, and how the Preferred Alternative will be identified. Please note, a No Build alternative is being considered throughout this study process.

 

Two preliminary alternatives have been developed based on the conditions out there today and to address the purpose and need of the project, including the anticipated conditions in the future (discussed above).

More details about the alternatives are provided in the section “What alternatives are being considered?”

Now that two alternatives have been developed, the team is evaluating each to determine how well they address the purpose and need of the project.

Working with the community to ensure the best possible outcome of this study is of utmost importance to THEA. The public information meeting held in May 2021 allowed members of the community to review the alternatives and their potential impacts, and ultimately provide comments and ask questions about the project. All comments received have been and will continue to be considered. Comments may be submitted using the options highlighted in the “Submit a Comment” tab.

Once we collect and review all public comments, the team will work to refine the alternatives and identify the Locally Preferred Alternative, which may be one of the two alternatives, a combination of the two, or the No Build Alternative. The Locally Preferred Alternative will be identified before the public hearing, planned for late Q1 2022, so that the community can review and provide additional comments prior to the plan being finalized.

What alternatives are being considered?

We will continue to consider the No Build Alternative, which is just that, what will happen if we do not make any improvements. The following describes the two build alternatives under consideration. The information is organized by the locations above. The differences between the alternatives are noted below. Each location and alternative includes a plan view map with the changes highlighted as well.

Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street

At this location, we will fulfill our commitment to the community to restore the grid network. Both alternatives call for constructing a new portion of Whiting Street between Meridian Avenue and Brush Street, where it currently ends, to complete the connection. The differences between the two alternatives are shown below.

Alternative 1

Alternative 1 would construct a new portion of Whiting Street between Meridian Avenue and Brush Street with a curved roadway connecting to the existing intersection of Whiting Street and Meridian Avenue. This alternative creates a four-way intersection at Meridian Avenue but limits the ability to expand the grid network in the future.

Alternative 2

Alternative 2 would construct a new portion of Whiting Street between Meridian Avenue and Brush Street, connecting more directly to Meridian Avenue, north of the existing intersection of Whiting Street and Meridian Avenue. This would improve the grid network for this area and allow for the grid to be expanded in the future. In addition, because most of the traffic using the new portion of Whiting Street will be turning right or left, and not continuing on Whiting to the east of Meridian Avenue, this configuration allows for better operation and enhanced efficiency. Finally, Alternative 2 allows for an additional crosswalk opportunity, which would improve pedestrian convenience and safety. The new signal at Meridian Avenue would be coordinated to operate with the existing signal to the south to ensure efficient flow of the traffic.

Alternative 1, Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street
Alternative 2, Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street

Location B: Whiting Street from Brush Street to Jefferson Street and the Intersection at the End of the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

Once Whiting Street connects between Meridian Avenue and Brush Street, it will become an important east-west connection. Both alternatives call for widening Whiting Street between Brush Street and Jefferson Street. Both alternatives also call for a new traffic signal at the intersection at the end of the new Whiting Street exit ramp. The differences are shown below.

Alternative 1

Alternative 1 would widen Whiting Street from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. This alternative includes bike lanes and 6-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road.

The intersection at Whiting Street and the new 6B exit ramp would be constructed with two lanes coming off the ramp. One lane would turn left (west) onto Whiting Street, the other would turn right (east) onto Whiting Street.

Alternative 2

Alternative 2 would also widen the road from 2 lanes to 4 lanes, but with 10-foot wide sidewalks instead of bike lanes. This would encourage bicyclists to use the two-way cycle track the City of Tampa has planned for Cumberland Avenue. This also provides for a pedestrian connection between the Selmon Greenway and the Meridian Greenway using the south side of Whiting Street.

The intersection at Whiting Street and the new 6B exit ramp would be constructed with three lanes coming off the ramp. One lane would turn left (west) onto Whiting Street, two lanes would turn right (east) onto Whiting Street.

Alternative 1, Location B: Whiting Street from Brush Street to Jefferson Street and the Intersection at the End of the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp
Alternative 2, Location B: Whiting Street from Brush Street to Jefferson Street and the Intersection at the End of the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

Location C: Jefferson Street Entrance Ramp and the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

At this location, there is only one Build Alterative. Here, the exit ramp for Exit 6B would be moved to the northeast to connect into Whiting Street. Moving the ramp for Exit 6B would require two modifications to what is out there today. The beginning of the entrance ramp from Jefferson Street to the eastbound Selmon Expressway would move to the north to make room for moving Exit 6B. And a connection between Nebraska Avenue and Finley Street would be constructed.

Location C: Jefferson Street Entrance Ramp and the New Whiting Street Exit Ramp

Location D: Removal of Exit Ramp 6B and Reconstruction of Exit Ramp 6A

At this location, there is only one Build Alterative. Right now, both eastbound downtown exits, Exit 6A and 6B, leave the Expressway at the same point. With traffic expected to increase considerably in the coming years, some exiting vehicles would back up onto the travel lanes on the Expressway if we don’t create more space on the ramp for vehicles. Separating the exit ramps and moving Exit 6B to the northeast will give us more room to lengthen both ramps.

Here, once the exit ramp for Exit 6B moves to the northeast, the existing pavement for the diagonal ramp would be removed.

In addition, the loop ramp would be lengthened and realigned by widening the curve. This would make more room for vehicles that need to queue at the end of the ramp and allow vehicles a longer distance to slow down before reaching Florida Avenue. The ramp would be widened to two lanes through the curve and three lanes at the intersection.

The loop ramp would be built on an elevated structure from the Selmon Expressway to west of the corner of Channelside Drive and Morgan Street. This would create a larger open area under the loop ramp for pedestrians to pass from the parking and open areas in the interior of the loop ramp to points of interest on Channelside Drive and Morgan Street, such as Amalie Arena.

A traffic signal would be installed at the end of the ramp to make it safer for pedestrians, and for the vehicles using the exit ramp to merge onto northbound Florida Avenue. This would also make it easier for drivers that need to turn right onto Brorein Street so they don’t have to weave with vehicles coming off the exit ramp.

A crosswalk will be installed at the new traffic signal and the sidewalk on the east side of Florida Avenue will remain.

Location D: Removal of Exit Ramp 6B and Reconstruction of Exit Ramp 6A

How do the alternatives compare?

The two build alternatives are being compared to the No Build Alternative and to each other. The study team developed a set of evaluation criteria to compare the potential benefits and impacts of the two preliminary alternatives and the No Build alternative, which is what would happen if no improvements are made. The criteria looks at the environmental and engineering factors, and costs, as well as the benefits and impacts each alternative would have on the community. We continue to make sure to only study options that would not cause disproportionate impacts to the community, and we are confident neither alternative 1 or 2 would.

Alternative No Build Alternative 1 Alternative 2
How much does the alternative enhance operations? Because traffic is expected to increase, this alternative would have no benefit to the roadway level of service

New connection to Meridian Avenue would operate at level of service E in the morning and D in the afternoon peak times

New connection to Meridian Avenue would operate at level of service C in the morning and B in the afternoon peak times; this alternative also improves delay by more than 50 seconds per vehicle better than Alternative 1

The table above shows how the alternatives would enhance operations.

Because the No Build Alternative would not include any improvements to the roadway network, operations would decline in the future.

The Alternative 1 Whiting Street connection at Meridian Avenue (with the curved roadway connecting into the existing intersection) would operate at a level of service E in the morning and D in the afternoon peak times.

The Alternative 1 two-lane exit ramp to Whiting Street would improve delay by more than 3 minutes per vehicle and reduce queueing by more than 80 percent, bringing it from the existing level of service F to level of service B in the morning and A in the afternoon peak times.

The Alternative 2 Whiting Street connection at Meridian Avenue (straighter connection, with new intersection) would operate at a level of service C in the morning and B in the afternoon peak times. This alternative would also improve delay by more than 50 seconds per vehicle better than Alternative 1.

The Alternative 2 three-lane exit ramp to Whiting Street would also improve delay by more than 3 minutes per vehicle and reduce queueing by more than 80 percent, bringing it from the existing level of service F to level of service B in the morning and A in the afternoon peak times.

Because there is only one build option at locations C and D, the following describes the benefits of these improvements.

The proposed improvements for the Florida Avenue loop ramp would improve delay by 20 seconds per vehicle, bringing it from the existing level of service C to level of service A.

Alternative No Build Alternative 1 Alternative 2
How much does the alternative enhance pedestrian safety? Because there would be no improvements made for pedestrians, this alternative would have no benefit to pedestrian safety

This alternative includes several pedestrian enhancements

(6' sidewalks and bike lanes, better east-west pedestrian connections)

This alternative includes several pedestrian enhancements

(10' sidewalks, better east-west pedestrian connections, additional crosswalk)

The table above shows how the alternatives would enhance pedestrian safety.

Because the No Build Alternative would not include any improvements to the roadway network, pedestrian safety would not improve.

Alternative 1 would enhance pedestrian safety by improving sidewalks and adding bike lanes along Whiting Street and by connecting Whiting Street to Meridian Avenue, giving pedestrians another path to travel east and west.

Alternative 2 would also enhance pedestrian safety improving sidewalks along Whiting Street and by connecting Whiting Street to Meridian Avenue, giving pedestrians another path to travel east and west. However, the sidewalks along Whiting Street would be wider in Alternative 2, and the new intersection at Meridian Avenue would give pedestrians an additional crosswalk.

Because there is only one build option at locations C and D, the following describes the benefits of these improvements.

The proposed improvements would enhance pedestrian safety by building the Florida Avenue ramp on elevated structure and adding a crosswalk at the end of the exit ramp.

Alternative No Build Alternative 1 Alternative 2
How much right of way would be acquired? What is impacted? 0 acres
0 parcels
0 business
0 residential
0.24 acres
4 parcels
2 businesses
0 residential
0.24 acres
4 parcels
2 businesses
0 residential

The table above shows the right of way impacts anticipated by the alternatives.

Because the No Build Alternative would not include any improvements, no right of way would be needed. Both alternatives are expected to require 4 parcels, 2 of which are businesses.

Alternative No Build Alternative 1 Alternative 2
How much is each alternative estimated to cost? (includes design, acquiring right of way, and construction) $0 $42.8 million $48.7 million

The table above summarizes the estimated costs of the alternatives.

Because no improvements would be made for the No Build, there is no cost associated. The costs include engineering and design, acquisition of right of way (land), and construction. These are planning level cost estimates and are subject to change as the project proceeds.

View the full evaluation matrix »

What is the schedule?

The study will be complete in Q1 2022. The schedule shows the efforts involved and the timeline of when they are expected to be complete.

Public meeting materials

May 20, 2021

Meeting Recording

View questions and answers from the meeting »

Submit a Comment

You may send a comment using the form below, by emailing us, or by mailing a comment. While you can send comments anytime, the official comment period for the Alternatives will close at 5pm on June 10, 2021.

 

Email comments

Send email to whiting@selmonstudies.com

Mail comments

Communications Department
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority
1104 East Twiggs Street
Suite 300
Tampa, FL 33602