City is sprucing up
Mayor says new trees will forever alter Tampa Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Wednesday the city has planted 782 trees with more than 2,000 to go during the next 2½ years. The first phase of landscaping was completed for the Republican National Convention, along the most popular corridors traveled by visitors and participants. "This is not just for the RNC," Buckhorn said during a ceremony at Perry Harvey Park, Orange Avenue and Scott Street. "It's the beginning of a transformation of a city. It's forever."Buckhorn said the way a city looks affects the way visitors and residents feel about it. To that end, the city's "Opportunity Corridors" project uses indigenous trees including southern red cedar, Chicasaw plum and sabal palms. The mayor said tree plantings will continue in areas defined by concentric circles outward, beyond the downtown area that's been spruced up for the convention. Committee starts passing out gear for volunteers The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee has begun distributing polo shirts, caps and tote bags to 4,567 volunteers during the convention. The host committee has filled more than 10,000 shifts with volunteers to support convention activities, including greeting and informing visitors at the airports and hotels, said Amanda Whitelaw, the committee's director of events and volunteers. In addition, the host committee has listed more than 500 businesses, most of them small businesses, available to provide merchandise, equipment, food and services for convention participants, fulfilling a key goal to create local business opportunities. Website offers transit info valuable to commuters The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority has joined the list of government agencies trying to ease the confusion of the Republican National Convention. TBARTA has created a "Commuter Solutions" website at RNC-Traffic.com to provide residents and visitors with links to important transportation information about the event. The site includes maps of available parking, planned road closures, transit detours and current traffic conditions. TBARTA is also encouraging commuters to consider carpooling during the event. The site links to TBARTA's free online ride-matching tool at tampabayrideshare.org for commuters to connect with one another. While the main convention activities will be in downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg, commuters throughout the region may be affected as unplanned detours and road closures may occur, TBARTA said. The agency will provide updated information at the website and through Facebook and Twitter. The site can be viewed on mobile devices and provides links to Florida's statewide 511 system, where users can find regional traffic alerts, and mytbi.com, which provides information on interstate construction projects. RNC: smaller numbers, different perspective Measured by the numbers, the big story of the Republican National Convention in Tampa is the forecast of 50,000 visitors and $200 million in economic impact. Here are some smaller numbers generated from the Tampa Convention Center, where some 15,000 media representatives will work. They were sent along by the convention's host committee: Will Selmon's lanes change schedule? Q: From my understanding, the Selmon upper deck will be open during the RNC. What will the traffic direction be on the current schedule: westbound morning traffic, eastbound evening traffic? Larry Oldsmar A: The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway folks say the reversible upper deck will operate as normal during the convention, under the usual schedule — westbound starting at 6 a.m., eastbound starting at 1:30 p.m. The upper deck runs east of the restricted area. The lower deck will indeed be closed from Willow Avenue to 50th Street, 12:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27 to 5 a.m. Friday, Aug. 31. So if you use the upper deck to commute in from Brandon, you'll have to get off and take Twiggs Street or Kennedy Boulevard to get across downtown. Everything south of there will be restricted. Will I have trouble getting to the airport? Q: How do I get to the airport by 10 a.m. Monday when the road closures go into effect and we don't know the impacts and how long it will take to travel there? What routes will be closed and which ones will be available? Ellen Sun City Center A: You'll find a map at tampagov.net/RNC, under "Detours, Road Closures, Traffic Information," pinpointing which roads are restricted during the next couple weeks. The convention starts Aug. 27, so the odds you'll run into trouble anywhere but downtown Tampa are pretty slim right now. If you're coming back the week of the convention, it could be a different story, however. The road closings are in the heart of downtown — the Selmon Expressway being the most likely point where you could have a problem coming from Sun City Center. Otherwise, the major interstates will remain open throughout the convention. It never hurts to give yourself a little cushion of time, but next Monday shouldn't be particularly difficult going to or from the airport. From staff reports
Search RNC at TBO.com to read answers to other questions — and to submit your own. The Republican National Convention runs Aug. 27-30 at the Forum in Tampa.