Working from the belief that Tampa’s streets should be safe for every user on the road, the FDOT will expand upon a pavement resurfacing project in 2018 with the installation of the first protected bicycle track on a state highway.
The cycle track — also known as an “urban shared-use path” — will run along the north side of Jackson Street (State Road 60) from Ashley Drive to Nebraska Avenue. At 10 feet wide, the cycle track provides designated roadway space for bicyclists traveling in both directions, and will be buffered by a 4-foot-wide raised island that separates cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. Special green pavement markings at side-street intersections and driveways will alert motorists to the presence of cyclists in areas where the cycle track intersects with motor vehicle traffic.
Stephen Benson, Government Liaison Administrator for the FDOT District 7 Office in Tampa, notes that the protected cycle track originated in DOT plans for routine road maintenance, including resurfacing and restriping State Road 60.
“The initial purpose of the project was to resurface the road because the pavement is in poor condition… Before we resurface a road, it is FDOT policy to look for ways to make it better instead of just putting everything back exactly the way it was,” Benson says.
“We came up with the idea for the cycle track as a result of input from the City of Tampa, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Tampa Downtown Partnership and many community meetings. There are a lot of cyclists that use this corridor to access and pass through downtown — so the cycle track will provide a designated place for them to ride that is physically separated from motorized traffic.”
Benson says the Jackson Street cycle track will provide connections to adjacent trails such as the Tampa Riverwalk via MacDill Park and the Selmon Greenway and Meridian Trail, as well as existing bike paths on Tampa Street, Florida Avenue and Nebraska Avenue.
“There isn’t really another east-west bike lane in that part of town. The plans laid out pretty well logically connecting the Riverwalk on one side to the Channel District on other,” says Benson.
In addition to the Jackson Street resurfacing and cycle track, Benson says the approximately $6.8 million FDOT project will include additional resurfacing work on parts of Nebraska Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard, as well as context-sensitive pedestrian upgrades including curb extensions, new crosswalks, increased sidewalk space and landscaping.
“This is the densest, most urban area that we have in the region. It deserves a better balance for pedestrians and cyclists,” Benson says. “We think this is going to be safe — better than it is now — and we think people are going to enjoy using.”
Construction contracts are in place for the project to break ground this November. Completion is scheduled for early summer 2018.