Selmon Extension Frequently Asked Questions
In order to maintain current access and visibility to businesses, the Selmon Extension will be innovatively designed to limit its size while maximizing visibility. We anticipate that the toll lane will be at least 30 feet high – that’s approximately twice as high than a typical urban bridge. The sleek design is intended to take the Extension out of a driver’s line of sight – allowing the driver to see businesses and turn lanes from both sides of Gandy Boulevard.
By removing the “pass-through” traffic coming to and from the Gandy Bridge that has no destination in the Gandy corridor, the Selmon Extension will create at least 35% greater capacity on Gandy Boulevard for neighborhood traffic and customers of Gandy Boulevard corridor businesses.
A: The Selmon Extension will provide safer, smarter and connected transportation solutions for both local and regional travelers:
The Extension provides a safe, dedicated and reliable hurricane and emergency evacuation route for Gandy area and regional residents, as well as helping to reduce accidents from red-light running and distracted driving.
The Selmon Extension gives regional travelers a choice to either stay on Gandy Boulevard for local destinations or use the Selmon Extension for regional “pass-through” trips. This results in reduced travel times, fuel consumption, and carbon emissions.
The Selmon Extension provides critical connectivity to the region for travelers and commerce between Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. It allows buses, commercial, and emergency vehicles that are not stopping on Gandy Boulevard, seamless regional connectivity. The Selmon Extension will complete the link between the Selmon Expressway and the under-construction overpasses in Pinellas County that will link I-275 and the Gandy Bridge – providing connectivity from Brandon to the Beaches and back.
A: THEA is updating the 2010 Project Development & Environmental (PD&E) study to reflect present-day Gandy corridor conditions. The PD&E update should be completed Summer 2016.
As part of THEA’s commitment to our community, we will work with the neighborhood residents and businesses, elected leaders, and other stakeholders to provide project updates and ongoing communications.
A: No, regional travelers, indeed any traveler who does not want to pay a toll will simply stay on Gandy Boulevard. That’s one of the benefits of this project – providing commuters and regional travelers with a travel choice.
A: Very few utility relocations are anticipated. Only those utilities that are in the median and in the specific locations of the piers will be subject to relocation. We will give advanced notice any customers who may be affected by utility relocation.
For the construction of the Selmon Extension, THEA will be utilizing a drilled shaft construction method. This method of construction disturbs less soil and causes less noise and vibration disruption than a typical project that uses a pile driving construction method that “pounds the ground.”
A: Construction of the Selmon Extension must follow a permitted stormwater pollution prevention plan) water pollution prevention plan by permit (this is an awkward sentence, but is mine worded correctly?). Runoff from the construction zone, which is largely limited to the median of Gandy Boulevard, will be filtered before being allowed to enter the storm water system.
Post-construction, water collected on the Selmon Extension will flow into drainage pipes built into the piers and then piped directly to the drainage canal on the north side of Gandy Boulevard. This process should reduce the levels of standing water on Gandy Boulevard during times of heavy rains.
A: There will be no changes to existing Gandy Blvd access options. All movements that are available today will be preserved. Connection to the Selmon Extension will be a new option for both local and regional travelers.
A: having to temporarily close only one driveway during construction in front Westshore Business Center. However, their entrance on Westshore Boulevard will remain open during this brief period. The reason for the anticipated temporary closure is to reconstruct the sidewalk on the south side of Gandy Boulevard.
We anticipate leaving the two lanes in each direction of Gandy Boulevard open during peak traffic times. Any needed lane closures will occur during off-peak hours. Any needed major road closures will happen overnight only.
Temporary closures of some median-turning movements may occur during the construction of the foundation. However, the closures, if required, would be for short durations and usually at night.
The final project will preserve all existing median-turn movements.
A: Construction is always difficult for motorists and businesses. THEA will work with the Gandy Boulevard businesses to identify issues and concerns – and then to address those concerns in our construction methods.
THEA will provide continuous project updates that include general project status and construction alerts.
THEA is also working with the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida to conduct an economic impact of the Selmon Extension. That study should be available Summer 2016.
When completed, the Selmon Extension will give travelers a choice, stay on Gandy Boulevard or take the 1.6-mile toll lane to connect directly to the Selmon Expressway.
A: Visibility of business signs along Gandy Boulevard will not be blocked to passing motorists. If necessary, blue business signs (i.e. interim construction signs) will be installed during construction to enhance visibility. In addition, THEA is committed to helping to maintain the visibility for the businesses along Gandy Boulevard by:
- Elevating the Extension so that the base of the structure is at least 30 feet high
- Reducing the number of piers supporting the Extension by 30%
- Spacing the supporting piers, on average, 200 feet apart
A: Every effort will be made by THEA to reduce impacts during construction. To best address issues and help ensure that timely and accurate construction information is distributed to the businesses, THEA will host weekly meetings with the business community, and employ an on-site dedicated public information officer.
A: Construction noise can be anticipated, but will occur more at night than during daylight hours. Vehicle emissions will be limited to construction vehicles exhausts, concentrated during nighttime hours when passenger and truck vehicular volumes are reduced from peak hours. Lighting will be required to construct during off-peak hours but will be directed to the work zone.
Once the project is complete, the noise volumes on Gandy Boulevard will be lower, because we anticipate taking the regional commuter and commercial (trucks) traffic off Gandy Boulevard and redirecting it to the Selmon Extension.
THEA is also seeking ways to minimize “spillover” lighting by containing lighting needs to the Extension.
A: Future widening is not warranted or anticipated from existing traffic projections. In FDOT’s 40 year projections, there is no plan to widen Gandy Bridge from its existing 2 lanes (in each direction). Because approximately 35% of the traffic on Gandy Boulevard is regional traffic that has no destination in the Gandy corridor, only two (2) lanes are needed to handle these regional trips.
A: Yes. As recently as 2009, a Project Advisory Group (PAG), comprising Gandy-area community and elected leaders, reviewed several options to alleviate traffic congestion on Gandy Boulevard. These options included a tunnel under Gandy Boulevard, a bypass south of Gandy Boulevard and the Selmon Extension. The tunnel and bypass options were rejected by the PAG due to prohibitive costs and excessive disruption to existing businesses and residences along the Gandy corridor. The Selmon Extension was, and is still, considered the best option to offer safer and smarter regional connectivity while alleviating traffic congestion on Gandy Boulevard and creating greater capacity and access for neighborhood businesses and residents.