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Federal grant will allow Tampa to rework downtown connectivity

The city is using a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to transform interchange, improving bike and pedestrian safety along the way.

Ashley Drive looking north
Ashley Drive looking north
Courtesy rendering
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Tampa will use funds from a $5.35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to upgrade the Ashley Drive interchange as you enter the city’s downtown.

The project is designed to bring the Ashley Drive exit off of Interstate 275 to ground level and connect city neighborhoods to downtown.

According to the city, the existing set up cuts off the street grid and makes it more difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to get around. By making the changes, the traffic on Ashley Drive will slow down, “improving the walk/bike environment and better transitioning drivers from I-275 into downtown Tampa.”

Current view of Ashley Drive looking north.
Courtesy photo

To get this done, the city will remove the viaduct that now elevates the extended exit ramp and then reconnect the north downtown street grid with a street-level Ashley Drive “making it safer and easier to walk and bike around downtown Tampa.”

In addition to the work on Ashley, the city says the project will include:

  • New bicycle and pedestrian routes.
  • Creating new street connections at Royal Street and Harrison Street, reducing barriers to walk/bike connectivity and access in north downtown.
  • Supporting development opportunities for mixed and affordable housing, along with ground floor retail.
  • Establishing a project Community Advisory Committee.
  • Creating new opportunities for green infrastructure and parks accessing the riverfront, and community-based place making along Ashley Drive.
  • Allowing for potential future connection to Laurel Street.

This change has been a long time coming, the city says in a statement. The idea of reconnecting the north side of downtown to the river was first proposed in 2012 as part of the InVision City Center Plan. A few years later, in 2019, the city started working on a plan for a better street grid with the Florida Department of Transportation.

“This project will not only improve transportation equity but make it easier and safer for our residents to access downtown,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says in a statement.

The total cost for the work will be $10.71 million. The city was awarded a $5.35 million by the Transportation Department.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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