Whiting Street PD&E Study

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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.

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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
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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 improvements to 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.

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

After the two preliminary build alternatives were developed, the team evaluated 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 provide comments and ask questions about the project.   

All public comments received thus far were used to help the team refine the alternatives and identify the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative is described below.

The public hearing on February 22, 2022, and the subsequent comment period is the final opportunity to provide comments before the preferred alternative is taken to the THEA Board of Directors and the study is finalized. All comments received by March 8, 2022, will be included in the public record for the project. Comments may be submitted using the options highlighted in the “Submit a Comment” tab.

What is the preferred alternative?

The following describes the preferred build alternative. The information is organized by the four locations above (A-D). Each location includes a plan view map with the improvements highlighted.

View the project concept

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. Right now, Whiting Street is cut off by the railroad tracks that run north-south next to Meridian Avenue. The preferred alternative would construct a new portion of Whiting Street to connect Brush Street 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. This also provides 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.

A new traffic signal would be installed at the intersection of Brush Street and Whiting Street and wide sidewalks would be constructed along Whiting Street to provide for a pedestrian connection between the Selmon Greenway and the Meridian Avenue Greenway.

Click on the image below to see all of the improvements in this location as part of the preferred alternative.

Click on the image below to see an artist rendering of the new portion of Whiting Street, on the left side of the image, and how it would connect to Meridian Avenue at the top of the image.

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

The preferred alternative would bring the existing portion of Whiting Street from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. Left turns from Jackson Street would be restricted to improve safety and traffic flow.

The existing ramp for Exit 6B would be moved to the north to connect to Whiting Street instead of Channelside Drive (see Location D). This would create a new intersection where the new 6B exit ramp would connect to Whiting Street.

The new ramp would have three lanes where it meets Whiting Street. One lane would turn left (west) onto Whiting Street and two lanes would turn right (east) onto Whiting Street. An enhanced crosswalk with a refuge point between the turn lanes would give pedestrians a place to safely stop if they need to cross in two stages.

Click on the image below to see all of the improvements in this location as part of the preferred alternative. Please note, improvements for Locations B and C are shown together.

Click on the image below to see an artist rendering of the intersection at the end of the new ramp to Whiting Street.

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

As part of the preferred alternative, the existing ramp for Exit 6B would be moved to the north to connect to Whiting Street instead of Channelside Drive (see Location D). 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.

Click on the image below to see all of the improvements in this location as part of the preferred alternative. Please note, improvements for Locations B and C are shown together.

Click on the image below to see an artist rendering of the new ramp to Whiting Street and the shifted entrance from Jefferson Street.

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

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.

A wall would be constructed between the ramp and the sidewalk to separate pedestrians and bicyclists from traffic exiting the Selmon Expressway.

A traffic signal with a crosswalk 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.

At the corner of Channelside Drive and Florida Avenue, the curb would be extended to reduce the distance it takes for pedestrians to cross Channelside Drive.

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. Optimizing this ramp will also provide an opportunity for a vibrant community space within the open area the ramp encompasses.

In addition, pedestrian-focused improvements at the intersection of Channelside and Morgan would include improved sidewalks, high visibility crosswalks, and enhanced walk signals.

Click on the image below to see all of the improvements in this location as part of the preferred alternative.

Click on the image below to see an artist rendering of the new loop ramp from the intersection of Channelside Drive and Florida Avenue.

Click on the image below to see an artist rendering of the new elevated loop ramp from the intersection of Channelside Drive and Morgan Street.

What were the preliminary build alternatives?

The following describes the differences between the two build alternatives initially considered and presented to the public at the May 20, 2021, virtual informational meeting. Locations C and D were the same for both alternatives, and are described above. The differences between the alternatives at Locations A and B are noted below. 

Location A: Whiting Street from Meridian Avenue to Brush Street

Both alternatives would construct a new portion of Whiting Street to connect Brush Street to Meridian Avenue.

Alternative 1

Alternative 1 would construct the new portion of Whiting Street with a curved roadway connecting to the existing intersection of Whiting Street and Meridian Avenue. This alternative would create a four-way intersection at Meridian Avenue.

Alternative 2

Alternative 2 would construct the new portion of Whiting Street more directly to Meridian Avenue, north of the existing intersection of Whiting Street and Meridian Avenue. This would create an additional intersection at Meridian Avenue.

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

Both alternatives would bring Whiting Street from 2 to 4 lanes between Jefferson Street and Brush Street. Both alternatives would also include a new traffic signal at the intersection where the new Whiting Street exit ramp (see Location C) would connect to Whiting Street. The differences are described below.

Alternative 1

Alternative 1 would bring Whiting Street from 2 lanes to 4 lanes with bike lanes and 6-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road. The intersection at Whiting Street and the new Exit Ramp 6B 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 bring Whiting Street from 2 lanes to 4 lanes, with 10-foot-wide sidewalks instead of bike lanes. The intersection at Whiting Street and the new Exit Ramp 6B would be constructed with three lanes coming off the ramp. One lane would turn left (west) onto Whiting Street and two lanes would turn right (east) onto Whiting Street.

How did we evaluate the alternatives?

The preferred build alternative was compared to the No Build Alternative (what would happen if no improvements are made) to understand the potential benefits and impacts of the alternatives. The alternatives were compared based on criteria that looked at 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 the preferred alternative would not.

 

The following describes the key considerations when evaluating the alternatives.

How much does the preferred alternative enhance operations?

Criteria No Build Preferred Alternative
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 C in the morning and B in the afternoon peak times

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

For the Preferred Alternative, the Whiting Street connection at Meridian Avenue would operate at a level of service C in the morning and B in the afternoon peak times. The proposed improvements for the Florida Avenue loop ramp would improve delay by 20 seconds per vehicle over what is out there today, bringing it from the existing level of service C to level of service A.

How much does the preferred alternative enhance pedestrian safety?

Criteria No Build Preferred Alternative
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 (wider sidewalks, additional crosswalks)

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

The Preferred Alternative would enhance pedestrian safety by improving sidewalks along Whiting Street and by connecting Whiting Street to Meridian Avenue, giving pedestrians another path to travel east and west. In addition, the new intersection at Meridian Avenue would give pedestrians an additional crosswalk. The preferred alternative would also enhance pedestrian safety by building the Florida Avenue ramp on an elevated structure, adding a crosswalk at the end of the exit ramp, and improving pedestrian amenities at the corner of Channelside Drive and Morgan Street.

How many historic sites may be impacted?

Criteria No Build Preferred Alternative
How many historic sites may be impacted?

Because there would be no improvements, this alternative would not include impacts to any historic sites

This alternative may impact 2 historic sites, the Ardent Mills property which is moving within the year and the railroad tracks

Because the No Build Alternative would not include any improvements, no historic sites would be impacted. 

The Preferred Alternative may impact two historic sites, the Ardent Mills property and the railroad tracks. Ardent Mills plans to build a new facility on Port Tampa Bay property To mitigate for these impacts, THEA will be installing decorative and informative plaques in the area where the sites are located to commemorate their history. In addition, a recorded history of the Ardent Mills site will be captured through photos and video testimonials from existing and past employees of the mill.

How much right of way would be acquired? What are the anticipated impacts?

Criteria No Build Preferred Alternative
How much right of way would be acquired? What is impacted? 0 acres
0 parcels
0.52 acres
4 parcels

Because the No Build Alternative would not include any improvements, no right of way would be needed.

The preferred alternative is expected to require 4 parcels. The parcels are located along the southern edge of Whiting Street.

What is the estimated cost? (includes design, acquiring right of way, and construction)

Criteria No Build Preferred Alternative
How much is each alternative estimated to cost? (includes design, acquiring right of way, and construction) $0 $55.3 million

Because no improvements would be made for the No Build Alternative, there is no cost associated.

The costs for the preferred alternative 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 mid 2022. The schedule shows the efforts involved and the timeline of when they are expected to be complete.

Public Information Materials

Public Hearing (February 22, 2022)

Thank you for attending the February 22, 2022 public hearing. The materials and videos presented at the meeting are provided below.

Click here to view the Handout given at the hearing

Click here to view the Display Boards shown at the hearing

View the project concept shown at the February 22, 2022 Public Hearing

View the presentation shown at the February 22, 2022 Public Hearing

Public Information Meeting (May 20, 2021)

View the presentation recording from the May 20, 2021 Public Information Meeting

View questions and answers from the May 20, 2021 Public Information 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 Public Hearing closes at 5:00PM on March 8, 2022.

 

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