Tampa, Fla. – Channelside Drive, the road that takes workers, sailors, and cruise line passengers to the Tampa Bay Port, may finally be narrowed from four lanes down to just two.
The plan would connect Kennedy Boulevard to the roundabout near the Florida Aquarium.
The issue is simple: city officials want to remove one lane on each side of the road, compressing it to a single lane in both directions, while adding in “medians and pedestrian-friendly spaces”. (Tampa Bay Times)
The hope here is to increase business in the area by making it more accessible to other businesses and by making the area more friendly to the general public. And this plan has already started to show some fruits.
There is a new lease agreement with Bertram Yachts to build a $25 million shipbuilding facility on 25 acres on Pendola Point, off the intersection of U.S. 41 and Madison Avenue.
Although this is a win for some city officials, port commissioners, and other city officials believe this project may have a damaging impact on cruise passengers who have to make their way up Channelside Drive in bad traffic as is.
Commissioner Patrick Allman asked Mayor Jane Castor to temporarily pause the work being down to narrow Channelside Drive, work that is now underway and up for public discussion since 2018.
Allman expressed his concern that there are still unheard parties on this plan.
Port officials commissioned their own study that found that lane reduction in the area would result in more congestion.
Vik Bhide, the city’s mobility director feels the designs have made it through the gauntlet of public opinion already.
“Honestly, I felt we were in good shape,” he said. “We’ve reached out to the community, we’ve reached out to stakeholders, we’ve let them study it themselves, and arrived at the design we’ve arrived at. We feel like we’ve done our due diligence, and we’re comfortable with our design here.”
But traffic on Channelside Drive is already backed up and a little chaotic on days when a cruise ship is set to sail. So the question is, how will this affect the already hurting cruise lines?
It’s no secret that the current state of the world has had a drastic and negative impact on cruise lines. The last 2 earnings reports from Carnival Cruises show losses in the billions. (The Guardian) (CNN)
The narrowing of Channelside drive is still in a sort of limbo. On Tuesday city officials came close to an agreement. At the moment, the project has is no progressing as planned.
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