tampabay.com

Changing lanes

Going from four to two cheers a cyclist while frustrating a businessman.

By Alexandra Zayas, Times Staff Writer
Published February 29, 2008


NEBRASKA AVENUE - Seminole Heights bicyclist Alan Snel used to avoid the treacherous potholes of the four-laned Nebraska Avenue.

But now that the southern section of the Florida Department of Transportation's $11-million Nebraska makeover is smoothed and re-striped, Snel uses new bike lanes to get downtown. He says the ride takes him 15 minutes.

"I get such a kick and a thrill out of seeing the bike lane inching more north," Snel said.

Don Taylor doesn't feel his enthusiasm. This month, street crews started working in front of his store, Green Shift Music and Comics, just south of Hillsborough Avenue. The project involves making the street two lanes in some places and adding a left-turn lane along the 3-mile stretch from downtown to Hillsborough.

Taylor thinks it favors homeowners over businesses, which thrive on high traffic volume. He said semitrailers have an easier time pulling into stores like his for deliveries on four-lane streets. Also, Taylor fears the center left-turn lanes will become a crash zone.

"I don't think the plan is sound," Taylor said. "I don't think the street is going to handle the traffic it has going down it."

Almost 20,000 cars travel the stretch each day, and that number is projected to grow to 21,100 by 2009 and 27,700 by 2023. But DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson said fewer lanes won't back up traffic.

"You actually can increase capacity by getting left-turners out of the way," she said.

The project began last summer and the street is already repaved north to Lake Avenue.

The Nebraska Avenue project

(Estimated completion is fall 2008.)

Lanes

Instead of four, you'll see one lane moving in each direction, with a center lane reserved for left-turners from Zack Street to Lake Avenue and Genessee Street to Frierson Avenue. From Kennedy Boulevard to Zack Street, expect to see one northbound lane, two southbound lanes and a left turn lane.

Buses

New bus bays will allow public transportation to pull over when picking up riders, not disrupting traffic flow.

Pedestrians

Crossing signals will be replaced with countdowns that show people how much time they have to cross the street. Crosswalks will be paved with red textured asphalt to look like bricks. Sidewalks and curbs will be redone to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bike lanes

From Kennedy Boulevard to Lake Avenue and Genessee Street to Frierson Avenue

Drainage pipes

New pipes will be installed for minor stormwater relief at Twiggs Street, Floribraska Avenue and Chelsea Avenue.