Hills BOCC suports resident Gandy bypass opposition

05/05/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Today, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted to support efforts to stop a South Tampa road project many residents say they don’t want. The state wants to connect the Selmon Crosstown Expressway to the Gandy Bridge using an elevated roadway. Commission Chair Ken Hagan put the item on the agenda.

Essentially the residents' and businesses' concerns that they have there range from aesthetic degradation and ruining the character of Gandy Boulevard to fear of reducing property values, to the fact that it would further isolate and negatively impact the local businesses.

Al Steenson of the Gandy Sunbay South Civic Association held a petition with hundreds of signatures from residents who oppose it.

There's over, close to sixteen hundred names on these petitions, right here, that are opposing this particular project — that are opposing this particular project.

The project would likely cost 115 million dollars. Activist Vivian Bacca said the money should go where it’s wanted.

Finally, that the Expressway Authority isn't wanted in the Gandy Boulevard area. I submit that we have hundreds of roadway projects that they could be constructing. They have a huge backlog. Let's put this money to work someplace where we really want it.

Business owner Mark Rubio said he had concerns over crime and graffiti. He asked if the minutes the road would shave off commuter drive times was worth it.

Another construction project would be devastating to our community. I travel the Gandy corridor every day — early in the morning taking the kids to school, evenings picking up — and the Gandy corridor is not a problem. It's a five- to ten-minute extra drive to connect from the Gandy Bridge to the Crosstown. Is it worth spending 120-plus million dollars for a five- to ten-minute delay in traffic connecting? I think our government has bigger problems presently to be wasting money or destroying the community.

There were several other concerns. Some residents fear the elevated two-lane road would hurt businesses along Gandy. Commissioner Rose Ferlita said despite her support of transit projects in general, she can’t support one that might have a negative impact on local businesses.

I think the Expressway Authority thought that perhaps they could come in and — in fairness to them — they thought they could come in and do something that would improve connectivity and those type of issues with this project. But I think the sense of the citizens who are affected the most was that it was just simply gonna cut off businesses, and God knows businesses, particularly small businesses along Gandy Boulevard, need all the help they can get, instead of potential customers and clients bypassing them and going someplace else.

A spokesperson for the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority said the agency is waiting on the Florida Department of Transportation to approve its Project Development and Environment Study. They don't expect the project to break ground until 2013.

In other transit news, the commission will hold a public hearing next Thursday on the proposed transit tax levy slated for November’s ballot. Members of the public will have a minute and a half each to speak. It will start at six at All People’s Life Center at 6105 East Sligh Ave.

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