Federal grant announced for Ashley Drive interchange in Tampa

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Florida Construction News staff writer

The City of Tampa has received more than $5 million in federal funding for to help reconnect the city and unlock more of downtown for housing and reinvestment.

Construction will lower the Ashley Drive Interchange Ramp to street level by removing the viaduct that raises up the extended highway exit ramp. The project will then reconnect the North Downtown street grid with a new street-level Ashley Drive, making it safer and easier to walk and bike around downtown Tampa.

The entire project is expected to cost roughly $10.71 million.

The existing Ashley Drive on-ramp cuts off the historic street grid, not only making it more difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate the area, but also isolating historic neighborhoods from downtown and creating an economic development dead zone.
“These roadway changes along Ashley Drive will simplify traffic and reduce lane changing and speeding, improving conditions for walking and biking, as well as easing drivers from I-275 into Downtown Tampa,” said Mayor Jane Castor.

“With the help of this federal grant, we can make sure that our residents have better access to the resources they need in Downtown Tampa, such as job opportunities, healthcare facilities, supermarkets, schools, affordable housing, and recreational areas.”

This federal grant project will also:

  • Add new bicycle and pedestrian routes
  • Create new street connections at Royal Street and Harrison Street, reducing barriers to walk/bike connectivity and access in north downtown
  • Establish a project Community Advisory Committee
  • Create new opportunities for green infrastructure and parks accessing the riverfront, and community-based place-making along Ashley Drive
  • Allow for potential future connection to Laurel Street

Additionally, funding will support development opportunities for mixed and affordable housing, along with ground-floor retail.

In partnership with the Downtown CRA, Tampa is finalizing a contract to purchase a key parcel standing in the way of full ownership of all the property between Harrison and Laurel Streets. In total, the city’s plan is to buy over four acres of underutilized land valued at $5.6 million adjacent to the redesign project area with plans to invite proposals generating several hundred units of mixed-income and mixed-use development.

“The Ashley ramp mistake is more noticeable now with the development of the Tampa Riverwalk, Armature Works, and reinvestment in the Tampa Heights neighborhood. Pedestrians and cyclists will have safer access to workplaces, grocery stores, recreation, and housing in North Downtown,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.

The grant follows major Infrastructure law investments for the Tampa Bay area including for Safer Streets ($40M), Superfund cleanup ($5M),  Port Tampa Bay ($12.6M), Brownfields Job Training ($500K), HART Cross Bay Ferry ($4.8M), and more.

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