Tampa City Council weighs safety options on Bayshore Boulevard

Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa

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Here is a link to many coronavirus resources

Tampa City Council held a special virtual workshop meeting Thursday to try to solve the problem of dangerous driving on scenic Bayshore Boulevard.

The waterfront drive has seen several fatal collisions in recent years.

More than 45 members of the public signed up to comment.

Council asked city staff to compile the comments and return with recommendations for safety on Bayshore and all Tampa streets.

In a 6-to-1 vote, Council also asked city staff to present plans at a May 21st meeting to close the northbound lanes of Bayshore to vehicles for one Sunday as an experiment.

The director of Tampa’s mobility department, Vik Bhide says the City has invested a lot toward safety on Bayshore.

“And this goes back many years through two different Bayshore safety action plans. We’ve done everything from adding feedback signs, narrowing lane widths, changing speed limits, adding additional crosswalks for pedestrian and bicycle access and several repairs. Having said that, this is a continuous process. Our work is not done, we recognize that, and we continue to work on Bayshore.

“Our work on Bayshore thus far has yielded some positive results. We have been able to reduce average speeds by up to 7 mph on various segments along Bayshore and have increased access generally for bicyclists and pedestrians over the years. In light of the recent tragedies on Bayshore, and we recognize that and are saddened by it, we do have some short-term actions planned as well. These are part of previous plans and again it’s part of the continuum.

“We are looking at further reducing posted speed limits along certain sections of Bayshore. We will be signalizing the intersections of Euclid and Rome. If you’re familiar with Bayshore the first is south of Bay to Bay and the other is north of Howard.

“The primary purpose for installing these two traffic signals is to break traffic in the northbound direction. There are at least two significant segments along Bayshore northbound where there’s uninterrupted or uncontrolled traffic flow for up to two miles. This does provide an opportunity for speeding and data suggests that that has been a factor in many of the most critical incidents along this roadway.”



But a representative from the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire Rescue assistant chief Mark Bogush said closing the northbound lanes of Bayshore Boulevard is not a permanent solution.

“There’s a lot of variables that go into play when you’re talking about a two-lane road versus a four-lane. Of course, time of day plays a very, very important role in that and the traffic load depending on the time of day. And as he suggested how that two-lane street is set up.

“If there is no place for automobiles to pull over to the right such as emergency lanes or some type of space or a turn-lane down the middle that emergency traffic and utilize to get down the roadway then they’re forced to go into oncoming traffic lanes and that provides a bit of a dangerous situation for both the responders and the public as well.

“So really I wouldn’t be able to answer your question as to how much time it would add. Yes, of course, it would add time depending on the time of day. But those other issues are probably the most important issues as far as danger to the public and danger to the responding units as well.”



Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group voted Thursday afternoon to cancel its “safer at home” order beginning Monday and instead follow guidelines set up by Florida’s governor. The only member to oppose that decision was Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. The group still unanimously extended the county’s declaration of emergency. Phase 1 of Governor DeSantis’ plan to reopen Florida allows restaurants, museums, libraries and retail to open at 25% capacity if they can follow social distancing guidelines.

Meanwhile, across the Bay, in a meeting Thursday morning, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says restaurants should prepare to reopen at limited capacity Monday. That’s when Florida partially relaxes some coronavirus closures. Kriseman says he is still considering whether St. Pete will enact rules that are more restrictive than the state’s.


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Below is more information released by the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center:

Hillsborough County Will Take Careful Steps toward COVID-19 Recovery Beginning Monday, May 4

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 92

Hillsborough County, Fla. (April 30, 2020) – Hillsborough County emergency leaders will align the community’s COVID-19 coronavirus recovery with a plan announced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and not at this time take actions which would be more restrictive.

During their semiweekly meeting today, members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group heard additional details about the first phase of the governor’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” plan, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 4 for all counties except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.

Among the highlights of the executive order:

Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with 6 feet between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity.

Retail can operate at 25% of indoor capacity.

No change from previous orders regarding bars, gyms, and personal services such as hair salons.

Schools remain distance learning.

Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited.

Elective surgeries can resume.

The governor’s new order does not prevent local governments from taking more restrictive steps, but EPG members Thursday noted it contains provisions that will continue to safeguard the public. These include:

Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside the home.

All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others.

Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for physical distancing.

Face masks are recommended for all those in face-to-face interactions and where you can’t social distance.

Hillsborough County residents are reminded that the governor’s current safer-at-home order remains in effect through this weekend.

Dr. Douglas Holt, director of the Hillsborough County branch of the Florida Department of Health, told EPG members that he has partnered with University of South Florida public officials on a plan to break the chain of transmission of the virus. The plan includes tracking the contacts of confirmed cases, implementing faster test processing, isolating any outbreaks, and working with nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

In other action, EPG members extended a state of local emergency enacted in response to the pandemic. By Florida statute, a state of local emergency can be in effect for only seven days, unless rescinded. The declaration gives County Administrator Mike Merrill and emergency managers the ability to quickly take certain actions to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and provides a path for federal reimbursement of certain expenses.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents during declared emergencies.

The next EPG meeting is scheduled Monday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m.

Get Connected. Stay Alert.

For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system.

Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County’s main information line.


Answers to Your Questions about COVID-19 Community Testing
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 91

Hillsborough County, Fla. (April 30, 2020) – On April 28, 2020, Hillsborough County significantly expanded its point-in-time testing for COVID-19 coronavirus. This means that anyone who wants to be tested can pre-register to get tested for free at community sites. Here are answers to basic questions about community testing.

Who can be tested at the public testing sites?
Any Hillsborough County resident can request an appointment. You do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms to be tested.

Why are you testing persons who aren’t sick or who don’t think they have been exposed to COVID-19?
Research shows that many people who have the virus may be asymptomatic, that is, showing no symptoms. Asymptomatic persons can unknowingly spread the virus to others. Public health officials say expanded testing is crucial to making decisions about reopening the County and developing policies to protect vulnerable populations and avoid a second wave of cases. Having a better idea of how many people currently have the virus will give Hillsborough County emergency leaders more information to make these important decisions.

Is there a cost?
The tests at the public testing sites are free. Insurance is NOT required, nor is a doctor’s note or prescription.

Why must I make an appointment to be tested?
A reservation is necessary to ensure that time slots are available at the testing site, to increase the speed of the actual testing process, and so that you receive important instructions. When your appointment is booked, you will receive a confirmation code that you will be asked to provide upon arrival at the testing site.

What does “point-in-time” testing mean?
The free tests available at the County’s community testing sites are intended to detect whether an individual has the virus at the moment the sample was collected.

How old do you have to be to be tested?
There is no age limit, however minors must be accompanied by an authorized adult, such as a parent or guardian.

When will the results be known?
Test results are not immediate. It usually takes 7 to 10 days, and in some cases longer. In the meantime, persons who were ill at the time they took the test should self-isolate until the diagnosis is known. All residents, including those who are asymptomatic, are reminded to wear face coverings while around other people in public.

What happens if I test positive?
You will be contacted and provided instructions.

Will the test show if I had the virus in the past but didn’t know it?
No. Those types of tests are serology tests, which look for the presence of antibodies – specific proteins made in response to infections. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more information about COVID-19 serology testing (https://nam11.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Flab%2Fserology-testing.html&data=02%7C01%7CSean%40wmnf.org%7C54f13defd1504a11e6ba08d7ed3cef83%7Ceff8000820724c42b3fe736c3260d23f%7C0%7C0%7C637238718293948722&sdata=EsH4UpRFNgDwi45Xp5%2BC4IXswjv4WQhBCQz17bY7%2BEo%3D&reserved=0).

Where can I get antibody testing?
Start by speaking with your doctor. Antibody testing is not offered by Hillsborough County or the Florida Department of Health.

If I was exposed to someone with the virus in the last 14 days, will a negative result on this test mean I don’t have COVID-19?
No. It can take up to 14 days between when you are exposed to the virus and when you start to get sick. If you don’t have symptoms and receive a negative test result during this time, this does not mean that you were not exposed. If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 it is important that you remain isolated from other people for 14 days from that exposure, regardless of a negative test result.

Where are the County’s community testing sites?
The public testing sites are located at Raymond James Stadium, and at Hillsborough County Community Resource Centers in East Tampa, Plant City, and SouthShore. At-home testing may be an option for certain residents who cannot travel to a testing location.

What else should I know?
Bring a photo ID with name and date of birth for all persons being tested (can be Florida driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport). Although pedestrians can be accommodated at some sites, it is best to arrive in a personal vehicle as the majority of the testing is conducted via drive-thru.
Limit vehicle passengers to those needing a test.

How do I make a reservation for a test?
Call (813) 272-5900 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Note that call-takers will ask a series of questions. This is to help determine the best testing resource for each individual.

For more information, including what to expect when you arrive at the testing site, go to HCFLGov.net/StaySafe, and click on “Testing & If You’re Sick”

Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system.
Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County’s main information line.