On December 15, 2017, the Florida Department of Transportation presented preliminary findings from the Heights Mobility Study at the Seminole Heights Branch Library. The study uses the slogan “Keep the Heights Moving” which, according to FDOT Project Manager Stephen Benson, refers to all modes of transportation—bicycling, walking, driving, and transit—but also moving forward in terms of the community’s vision for the future.
The ultimate goal of the Heights Mobility Study is to build on past studies to define comprehensive, “Complete Streets” alternatives for the Florida Avenue corridor (including Tampa Street/Highland Avenue and other roads in the community). The first phase of the study focuses on shorter-term improvements to enhance safety and non-motorized mobility.
To gather more information, FDOT invited members of the community as well as representatives of the City of Tampa and HART to participate in walking audits of the study corridor. Demian Miller, one of the consultants assisting FDOT with the study and a resident of the area, said that the participation from residents was key to a successful project. “They can tell us things about the area and how people use the roadways that we can’t get from the usual data sources,” he says.
Over the course of two mornings, the teams walked the length of the study corridor from I-275 in Downtown Tampa to Bird Street just north of the Hillsborough River. Alyssa Getzoff, a resident of Seminole Heights and representative of the Old Seminole Heights Civic Association, was happy to participate. As a former resident of New York City, Getzoff is accustomed to walking as a primary mode of transportation. “I went on both days,” said Getzoff. “There was a lot of thought among the different agencies to come up with solutions to these problems, and it felt like there is some sort of cohesiveness that could make this go forward.”
Recommendations so far include more crosswalks, including a planned signal at Wilder Street near popular neighborhood establishments, as well as changes to several intersections to calm traffic and make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate safely. “I live on the other side of Florida,” said Getzoff, “so I’ll be a lot happier when that [crosswalk] goes in. I’m from New York so I am used to walking everywhere—three miles I could do in a clip, but it’s unpleasant right now—if it was [pleasant] I would have no problem walking downtown and walking back—in a heartbeat.”