Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tear Down this Interstate!

Tampa, Fl
Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert 

Tearing down the interstate, or "urban freeway removal", as it's proponents call it, is a rallying cry from the Stop TBXers.

Removing parts of I-275 is regularly raised at the FDOT Tampa Bay Next and other outreach meetings.

From the Tampa Bay Times:
If some Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights residents had their druthers, the state would simply demolish Interstate 275, which now severs their neighborhoods. 
Loud, sustained applause and shouts of "Yeah," from nearly 100 people greeted just such a proposal Tuesday. 
"Tear it down!" said Joshua Frank, an urban planner who wrote his Master's degree thesis on an alternative to the controversial highway expansion program called TBX (short for Tampa Bay Expressway).
His presentation, "Bifurcation to Boulevard", showed how transforming the Interstate into a wide, landscaped boulevard, featuring bike and pedestrian paths and even light commuter rail, would transform the area north of Tampa's downtown core.
Similarly, WTSP reported on it:
The highway has wreaked havoc on neighborhoods, Frank said. He pointed to air pollution, noise levels and lower property values, the Times reports. He called for “reintegrating” six neighborhoods split by 275. That would improve residents’ quality of life and promote economic activity, he argued.

A neighborhood group held a meeting Tuesday and asked FDOT to consider Frank’s proposal, the Times reports. "They had at least 10 people here," said Kimberly Overman, president of the Heights Urban Core Chamber. "They are very interested. What boulevards do is open up opportunities."
Likewise, tearing down the interstate was highlighted in the May 24 Tampa Bay Next working group [PDF], where it was met with loud applause:

Screen capture from TB Next Community Working Group, May 24, page 18
When we spoke to FDOT about the possibility of the interstate removal, while skeptical, they stated they would have to study it, as if it is something "the community" wants to consider. Especially given FDOT's new kinder, gentler community outreach program.

Just how feasible is removing I-275? It is a rather highly utilized stretch of road in Hillsborough county.

Let's look at some data, and apply some 4th Grade Math.

Start with some 2015 (most recent) traffic counts:

Hillsborough County Traffic Counts Map

Road SegmentAADT
I-275: FLORIBRASKA AVE - to - M L KING BLVD143,500
I-275: ASHLEY ST - to - JEFFERSON ST NB189,500
I-275: ARMENIA AVE - to - ASHLEY ST203,000

Over 200,000 vehicles per day drive in some segments of I-275 today. FDOT expects substantial increase in traffic on I-275 by 2040, to nearly 300,000 vehicles per day:

FDOT Forecasted I-275 Traffic Increases
Which begs the question, How many lanes of a tree-lined boulevard will be needed to handle 300,000 vehicles per day?

For that, again, we can use traffic counts and the 2014 (latest) Level of Service [PDF] report, which also identifies the number of lanes and the the Level of Service, where A is good, and F is a failed road. We can check against some other Hillsborough County's busy roads.

Road SegmentLanesAADTLOS

Taking a look at some of our busier road segments in Hillsborough County, and maintaining some semblance of the lanes required to maintain the current Level of Service, which is poor at best for the roads selected above, we can conclude that replacing I-275 with a tree lined boulevard will require 30 lanes of traffic.

That's right. 30 lanes of traffic.

Why is that? These "tree lined boulevards" also have traffic lights. Vehicles will stop. And wait. Stop. And wait. The vehicles will need lots of room to stop and maintain some decent traffic flow.

Replacing 12 - 14 lanes of the interstate with 30 lanes of of surface street traffic hardly seems like a neighborhood improvement program.

Destroying neighborhoods? Check.

Bulldozing more neighborhoods than Tampa Bay Next? Check.

Noisier surface streets? Check.

Cars mixing with pedestrians and children? Check.

Views blocked by semis and trucks? Check.

Massive congestion? Check.

Consuming more gas, cars and trucks idling away?

Spewing more pollution into nearby homes? Check.

When the traffic jams up, on the tree line boulevard, what will happen?

Drivers will find a way. They will use Google Maps or Waze and divert around the traffic. Into the neighborhood streets. Not just Florida Ave or Nebraska Ave, but onto the residential streets. Google Maps often navigates off the interstate during rush hour today.

That will not be a safety improvement for those neighborhoods where drivers are cutting through. Trust me, I know, as drivers used to regularly cut through our neighborhood when traffic backed up nearby. When our neighborhood approached the county, they were not moved. They had no reported incidents. I guess one of our kids needed to get hit or something. Our neighborhood was able to resolve the situation. We took control and closed off one end of the road cutting through our neighborhood. We paid for it, and it took 15 years.

Recall that FDOT stated they have to study removing the interstate in all the glory that it requires. That will include alternative analysis, environmental impacts, initial designs, feasibility assessments, surveys, etc.

Recall, as we reported, FDOT has made a unique outreach to those transit advocates that the rest of us were not afforded. They are not representing the rest of us.

In other words, a big waste of money. Your money.

When the urban extremists, a vocal minority enamored with all things urban, are trying to dominate the discussion around Tampa Bay Next. Shouting "tear down the interstate", they can't be taken seriously. They don't represent the nearly half a million of us in Tampa Bay that regularly use the interstates nearly every day.  

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

Monday, June 26, 2017

Limiting the debate in St. Pete’s Mayoral election

I want to hear what T. Lassiter and Jesse Nevel have to say to Kriseman, Baker, and to each other.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

As we move into the early primary portion of the St. Pete, Mayoral election debate participation is being limited by debate sponsors.

Along with former Mayor Rick Baker, and current Mayor Rick Kriseman, Anthony Cates III, Paul Congemi, Ernisa Barnwell, Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter, and Jesse Nevel have qualified for the primary.

The Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church will host the first debate Tuesday June 27 at 6:00 p.m. To participate in the debate candidates must be poling 10% or higher. No indication as to whose poll they will use.

The Tampa Bay Times along with Bay News 9 will be hosting their primary debate with just Baker and Kriseman on July 25 at the Palladium Theater. They are basing their debate participation on fund raising. Baker and Kriseman have each raised over half-million dollars leaving the other candidates far behind.

It just does not seem right to me to limit primary debate participation with arbitrary conditions designed to eliminate specific candidates.

I get the argument we want to focus on who has the best chance to win, but that’s what the general election is all about. I seriously doubt Baker or Kriseman will say anything any different in their primary debates than they will in the general election debates, unless they are forced to do so by one of these competing minor candidates.

I can understand the elitist attitude at the Times saying money talks and passion walks. Let’s just let these nice, white, normal politicians have a stage to tap dance their political stump lines. No one will get challenged, and nothing will get out of control.

All very civil and mostly pointless.

The position of the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church surprises me a little. Captured in these non-money raising, low poling candidates are the burning issues that St. Petersburg needs to solve. Voices that need to be heard, and given the opportunity to respond to the debate questions asked.

The folks at Mt. Zion should know that better than anyone.

I want to hear what T. Lassiter and Jesse Nevel have to say to Kriseman and Baker and to each other.

Let’s do it like the Republicans did in the Presidential election, get them all on the stage let them answer and ask questions, slug it out and see if everybody can’t learn something.  

If Kriseman wants to help the south side, here is his chance to get some ideas that may be hard to swallow.

Baker wants a seamless City, here is a chance to see some seams that need mending.

If these high poling, big money raising candidates really “love their City” and “want to do their best for St. Pete” they would tell these primary debate sponsors: “Either everyone is in or I am out.”

All, and I mean all, the voices deserve their chance to participate in the primary process.

Uncomfortable? Sure.

Long and drawn out? You bet.

Not easily shoved into a preset TV time slot? Yep.

In the end, whoever wins will be better off for the effort. 

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY 

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign  

Please comment below.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

St. Pete Pride – A look back

I really love the St. Pete Pride parade.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

I have managed to attend the event most years and shot hundreds of pictures.

This year since the event is moving to downtown I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at past Pride parades.

These photo galleries are all originals most not edited or retouched. They are in their raw form and so almost all exceeded 2.5 MB. So, before you click download for a whole Gallery make sure you have the storage room and some time.
I have chosen 2013 and 2014 these were both exciting years and great events.

2013 was especially exciting as it rained, and you can see the rain effects in many of the photos near the end of this gallery.

There are over  675 photos in this Gallery, and you can see them by clicking here St. Pete Pride 2013.

If you were at this Pride event, you just may be in one of these photographs. Check them out.

2014 was a special year for Pride. With a new administration in City Hall, and a new view of the Pride event.

There was a proclamation signed by the new Mayor and Pride Flag was raised over City Hall for the first time.

This Gallery contains a group of photos from that first flag flying, and they are among my most favorites of the thousands of photos I have in my library.

There are over 300 photos in this gallery you see them by clicking 2014 Pride Flag Flying

What I like most about the Pride Parade is the faces. Everyone seems to be so totally in tune with one another.

For a few hours, people from the LGBT community can put away their fears and concerns meet old friends, make some new ones, share some remembrances, laugh and have a good time in a place that welcomes them.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Please comment below.