Public input sought on plans to widen Fletcher Avenue
NORTH TAMPA - East Fletcher Avenue is a ribbon of asphalt running east-west through some of Hillsborough County's most densely populated neighborhoods. Any time of day, commuters are likely to experience a traffic jam. A plan to widen the road from four to six lanes and ease traffic congestion on Fletcher Avenue from Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to Interstate 75 is being studied. But there is a catch: No one knows when the county will be able to afford to expand the road. “It’s unfunded, so sometime in the future,” Hillsborough County Public Works project manager William Alford said. The lack of a target date hasn’t stopped officials from holding public hearings to get input from residents on a Fletcher Avenue project development and environment study. The most recent hearing was held at the Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North on Tampa Oaks Boulevard in Temple Terrace on March 7.The study and the public hearings are necessary whether or not a project target date has been set. “It’s important because we are doing the study, which is required, to federal standards,” Alford said. By completing the preliminary planning work now, the county would be ready to apply for future federal transportation dollars when they become available, he said. The need for road improvements is based on existing traffic congestion and a lack of safety accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists. The target area extends from near the University of South Florida campus at Bruce B. Downs to an area sprinkled with corporate business parks, hotels, and apartment complexes near I-75. The proposed project would widen Fletcher Avenue from Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to I-75 from a four-lane divided road to a six-lane divided artery. The project would include three 12-foot lanes for east and westbound commuters, a 5-foot sidewalk, and 4-foot bicycle lanes in each direction. A pedestrian overpass would be placed at 42nd street near the USF campus. The 35 mph speed limit on parts of the road would increase to 45 mph for the entire stretch. Improvements also will be made at public transit pick-up collections. After the public hearings, written comments provided by residents will be reviewed to help county planners design maps and drawing and offer information for county officials to consider.