Nebraska Avenue PD&E Study

Project Description

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) conducted a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study to evaluate the needs, costs, and effects of constructing transportation network improvements to increase mobility and vehicular capacity within the immediate roadway network surrounding the Selmon Expressway Reversible Express Lanes (REL) terminus at Meridian Avenue. Potential improvements may be recommended for North Nebraska Avenue (US 41/SR 45) from south of East Twiggs Street to East Cass Street as well as other intersections or arterials. Depending on the needs, this study is expected to identify short-term operational improvements and implementation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSM&O) strategies and use of other transportation technology to improve traffic flow coming off the REL and distributing it into downtown Tampa.

Study Objective

The primary focus of this study was to identify needs, test alternatives, and develop recommendations to alleviate congestion and more efficiently distribute traffic as it enters downtown after exiting the REL system. This study analyzed several intersections for potential improvements. It evaluated configuration of travel lanes, turn lanes, and intersections and an implementation plan for feasible traffic management strategies. Right-of-way (ROW) impacts for this project were minimized as much as possible.

Study Area

The study area map shows the coverage area for the Meridian Ultimate Nebraska Avenue Improvements PD&E Study.

Nebraska Map

Project Background

The purpose of this project was to improve safety, accessibility, and circulation along the Selmon Expressway and throughout the downtown and Channel District. The eastern portion of the Selmon Expressway services large volumes of highly directional commuter traffic traveling between downtown and I-75 (and southeast Hillsborough County). To maximize efficiency, the Expressway features the Reversible Express Lane (REL) system that extends from downtown (at North Meridian Avenue) to Brandon Parkway in Brandon. The high volume of westbound traffic exiting the REL in the morning (AM) peak period experiences recurring congestion and queuing as it enters downtown at North Meridian Avenue. Significant development throughout the City and Channel District, alongside anticipated traffic demand on the Selmon Expressway, has further spurred the need to improve downtown accessibility and circulation options, as well as enhance the safety and traffic flow along the Selmon Expressway.

The Meridian Ultimate Nebraska Avenue Improvements PD&E Study has been conducted in close coordination with the Whiting Street PD&E, the South Selmon PD&E, and Selmon East PD&E to study capacity needs along the entire Selmon Expressway.

Study Findings

  • Traffic congestion on the REL is significantly higher during the morning peak hours than in the evening peak hours
  • Inbound REL Traffic turning right on Twiggs is the primary source of REL congestion in the morning
  • 53% of traffic exiting the REL turns right on Twiggs Street
  • 47% of traffic exiting the REL goes straight on Meridian Avenue

Improvements Evaluated

The Meridian Ultimate Nebraska Avenue Improvements PD&E Study team evaluated a range of improvements:

  • Adding southbound capacity from the REL onto Meridian Avenue
  • Adding capacity to Nebraska Avenue from south of Twiggs Street to Cass Street/Nuccio Parkway
  • Adding an additional REL Off Ramp
  • No Build Alternative (no improvements)
Nebraska PD-E Study Findings-2

Study Recommendation

After completing a careful evaluation of the proposed improvement alternatives within the study area, THEA has decided on the No Build Alternative (no improvements), which will avoid any impacts and disruption in the study area. This decision was based on stakeholder input and consideration of the costs, impacts, and potential benefits of the proposed alternatives for this project.