BRT Alternative for Tampa Bay
Ashon Nesbitt 12:32 AM BRT , bus rapid transit , downtown , HART , Hillsborough , I-275 , locally preferred alternative , Pinellas , Rail , south St. Petersburg , St. Petersburg , transit-oriented-development
So, it appears HART (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit) is moving forward with Tampa Bay's first bus rapid transit (BRT) line, which will connect north Tampa (USF, Fowler area) with Downtown Tampa called MetroRapid. It's not as exciting as light rail, but it is progress. Thinking about how residents may be reluctant to support rail, particular the extensive network I previously proposed on a previous post, I thought about an extension of MetroRapid into Westshore and across the bay into St. Petersbug. With the expansion of I-275 in west Tampa to include a large median for future transit and the rebuilding of the northbound Howard Franklin bridge to include a transit envelope, this may be a good time to move forward with such an initiative.
|Eagan Transit Station, Eagan, MN|
This is how it would work. The new Howard Franklin northbound would include two to four additional lanes. I propose making these tolled express lanes for carpools and accessible by buses. These lanes would continue through west Tampa in the new large median of I-275, which is purposely designed for this purpose. On the Pinellas side, it would require the construction of additional lanes on I-275 from the MLK/Ulmerton interchange to downtown St. Pete. Into south St. Pete, convert one lane of I-275 into the carpool/bus lane. The combined BRT line would connect all the major employment/activity centers in the metro area.
|Major retail redevelopment near Brooklyn Center Transit Station,|
Brooklyn Center, MN
With this BRT line, new "transit centers" would be created in north Tampa, Seminole Heights area and Westshore in Tampa along with Gateway, downtown St. Pete and 22nd Avenue S/I-275 area in St. Pete. Each would be park-and-ride centers, but also destinations of their own with restaurants, retail and multifamily housing. I good example would be the various transit centers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
The political appeal would be in the creation of carpool lanes. So it still supports our preferred method of transportation, the car. However, it provides capacity for buses to move more quickly and with a higher frequency, similar to rail. Economically, it would benefit all, in that our major employment and activity centers become more accessible (e.g. a south St. Pete resident might apply for a job in Westshore if there was the option to park and ride from 22nd Avenue S across the bridge rather than drive). I think this is a viable alternative to rail, and one worth exploring.