|State Road 618|
|Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway
Maintained by Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority
|Length:||14.168 mi (22.801 km)|
|West end:|| US 92 / SR 600 in South Tampa (local)
Meridian Ave. in Downtown Tampa (express)
| US 41 / SR 599 near Riverview
US 301 / SR 43 in Riverview
|East end:|| I-75 / SR 93A in Brandon (local)
Brandon Gateway in Brandon (express)
The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway, originally known as the Southern Crosstown Expressway is a 14.168-mile (22.801 km) limited access toll road in Hillsborough County, Florida, It connects the South Tampa neighborhood near MacDill Air Force Base with Downtown Tampa and the bedroom community of Brandon. The expressway was named after famed and respected football player and local hero Lee Roy Selmon in 1999.
The expressway was supposed to be part of a multi-expressway system that failed in the 1970s due to heavy local opposition and financial burdens. The original designation for the expressway was State Road 449, but was switched to State Road 618, which remained a secret designation until the early 2000s, when it began appearing on maps and atlases.
The expressway features an elevated bridge, that became the world's first reversible, all-electronic, elevated express lane project, which opened in 2006. Level of service was upgraded from an "F" to an "A" as commuters are now able to travel at full speed, cutting travel time by as much as 60 minutes per day. The elevated lanes project won the prestigious "2007 IBTTA President's Award: Most Innovative Toll Transportation Project in the World," along with 22 awards for engineering excellence and community-friendly design. This modern solution is a prototype for eliminating urban traffic congestion and reducing green house gases. Over 12 million trips on elevated lane have been completed with no reported accidents.
The tollway begins at an interchange with US Route 92 (Gandy Boulevard) and Dale Mabry Highway north of MacDill Air Force Base. It makes its way north for the first four miles before heading east towards downtown Tampa and ending at a trumpet interchange with I-75 in Brandon.
The lanes begin at Meridian Avenue in downtown Tampa, and end at Brandon, near Westfield Brandon, east of the I-75 interchange, with an access point in both directions from the main expressway between exits 12 (78th Street) in Tampa and 13 (US Route 301) in Brandon.
The reversible lanes of the Expressway have no manned toll gates. To accommodate motorists who do not have SunPass transponders (such as those from out of state), the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority and Florida's Turnpike Enterprise have created the "Toll by Tag" program.
Each vehicle without a SunPass transponder is photographed and the license plate read. If the license plate number is associated with a "Toll by Tag" account, that account is used to pay the toll. Otherwise, the vehicle's owner has 72 hours to create an account and pay the toll. After 72 hours, notification of the toll is mailed to the vehicle's owner; after 30 days, penalties are imposed.
^ Denotes transitional operation of the reversible lanes bridge, where the segment between 78th St and downtown Tampa is westbound traffic and the Brandon Pkwy segment east of US 301 is eastbound traffic.
^^ The Reversible Lanes are continuously open in the eastbound direction from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
The Crosstown Expressway is the southern component of what was planned to be a system of expressways throughout the Tampa area from the 1950s to 1970's, but the rest were cancelled by the 1980s due to financial problems, land acquisition and community revolts. The first six miles of the tollway was built in the mid 1960's on a CSX rail line, from the western terminus at Gandy Blvd. at Dale Mabry Highway, making an eastward turn at Platt Street/Willow Avenue, snaking around historic Hyde Park before ending at a 3/4 mile, six lane viaduct, spanning the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa, ending at Florida Avenue. Ridership was low when it opened in 1976, as people were less willing to drive the toll road when free roads were available nearby. The remaining nine miles of the expressway was built and opened in stages between 1979 and 1986 when the expressway connected to its eastern terminus of I-75.
In 1975, a contest was held to determine the logo of the expressway. Only one entry was submitted, a picture of pirate Jose Gaspar with the title "TAMPA CROSSTOWN EXPRESSWAY", all on a blue background. This logo was phased out in the early 2000s, in favor of the standard "TOLL 618" plates and a "Selmon Crosstown Expressway" logo. In 2008, a new logo appeared to replace the previous Crosstown Expressway logos that reads "SELMON EXPRESSWAY" with downtown Tampa in purple and three ribbons, a yellow one in the middle of two teal ones going towards the city.
In 2001, a city truck equipped with a hydraulic lift slammed into the 34th St overpass when the vehicle's lift was unknowingly raised. The accident crippled a support beam, which had to be replaced. In 2005, a similar vehicle destroyed the overhead exit sign at Euclid Ave (Exit 2) and over a month passed before a replacement sign (and structure) were installed. Also, over the years there have been a few accidents that made headlines, where vehicles, traveling at high speeds, crashed into one of the toll plazas.
In 2004, the Hillsborough County Expressway Authority accelerated a planned toll hike that would increase the mainline toll plazas by 25 cents and raise the 22nd St Exit tolls to 75 cents from its original date in 2009 to 2007. The toll hike took effect on January 1, 2007, with the hike for the 22nd St ramps going into effect in late June 2006.
The reversible lanes project, aimed at cutting traffic congestion times, was originally envisioned in 1995 by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority (THCEA) as an innovative idea to increase capacity along the Crosstown Expressway from Downtown Tampa to Brandon without acquiring additional right-of-way. Instead, an elevated, three-lane bridge was built over the existing median of the expressway. Planning for the project began around 1995/1996, but final designs/planning were not made until the later 1990s.
Construction commenced in 2003 but in 2004, a portion of the elevated bridge, aimed at increasing capacity along the expressway during rush hour, collapsed during construction, halting construction for about a year. The segment was repaired and all other piers were reinforced when construction resumed in 2005.
In spring 2005, two realigned sections of the eastbound lanes opened. One section is between 22nd St and 39th St, the other between 78th St and I-75. The at-grade sections of the reversible lanes now follow the old alignments. The Brandon Gateway section of the elevated bridge opened in November 2005 and gained an overwhelmingly positive input by commuters. Thus the bridge was kept open beyond January 2006 (when it was originally scheduled to close for more bridge work) during the evening rush hour.
On July 18, 2006 at 6 am, the reversible lanes opened to westbound morning traffic (only). Long lines were formed at the Brandon Gateway well in advance as many anticipated using the new road. However, the scene from news helicopter snapshots showed that only a handful of drivers actually ended up using the new bridge, compared to the number that was expected. These findings may be blamed partly on the lack of advance notification to commuters, the number of commuters who own a SunPass transponder, and an unrelated traffic incident on Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. Many other questions were raised as a result of the low traffic volume along the reversible lanes. The eastbound direction opened to traffic on August 29, 2006 at 3:30 pm. A "Grand Opening" celebration was held on September 23, 2006, with festivities including a 5k and 10k run across the new bridge.
On November 1, 2006, Florida's Turnpike Enterprise began a pilot program with the THCEA, known as "Toll-by-Plate". This program allows occasional commuters to utilize the Reversible Express Lanes through a system of high resolution cameras (at the 78th St barrier checkpoint/gantry) which snap photos of license plates. The commuter is then sent a bill via mail. The THCEA reports that over 500 commuters have already signed up for the Toll-by-Plate program since its debut. The program's success so far may lead to future expansion to other tolled thoroughfares in Florida, such as the lower level of the Selmon Expressway, and the Veterans Expressway/Suncoast Parkway. The project was officially completed in 2007 after four years of construction at a cost of $420 millon.
In June 2009, a settlement was reached between the THCEA, URS, and other parties, regarding the 2004 collapse of the elevated lanes and the lawsuit that followed. The THCEA was able to obtain approximately $75 million dollars from the settlement, which will be used to pay off debts and help fund an upcoming widening and rehabilitation project along the downtown Tampa viaduct.
The THCEA is in the process of eliminating all traditional toll plazas from the entire Selmon Expressway in favor of open road tolling, which is scheduled to be completed in September 2010. Gantries will be set up at all existing plazas and will allow free-flowing movement throughout the thoroughfare. Customers will need to set up either a SunPass or Toll by Tag account after this time. Customers who do not have either account will be billed later for their use on the expressway.
The THCEA is currently in the process of finalizing plans to rehabilitate and widen the section of the elevated expressway from Morgan St to 20th St from its existing four lanes, to six lanes. Much of the funding for the $70 million dollar project has been secured, with some of the funds coming from the recent settlement between the THCEA and other parties for the 2004 collapse of the elevated express lanes at 50th St. The project is scheduled to begin sometime in 2010.
A study regarding a contra-flow plan for the Selmon during a large-scale evacuation is currently underway. The Hillsborough County EOC and the THCEA are planning out just how the expressway could be used as an evacuation route. The big limitation out of the plans, and why the original plans were cancelled is the I-75 trumpet interchange, which narrows to one lane on three of the four ramps to and from the interstate. The current plan, if approved, is as follows.
The entire route is in Hillsborough County.
|Tampa||0.040||1||US 92 / SR 600 (Gandy Boulevard) – MacDill AFB, St. Petersburg||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; signed as exits 1A (east) and 1B (west)|
|1.182||2||Euclid Avenue||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|2.056||3||Bay to Bay Boulevard||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|4.074||4||Willow Avenue – Davis Islands|
|West toll plaza ($1.25, $1.00 with SunPass)|
|4.682||5||Hyde Park Avenue/Plant Avenue – Davis Islands||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|6A||Florida Avenue - Downtown Tampa||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|6B||Channelside Drive - Downtown Tampa||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|7||Morgan Street - Downtown Tampa||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|8||SR 60 – Downtown Tampa||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance||Western terminus of express lanes at Meridian Street|
SR 585 north (22nd Street) / US 41 Bus. – Ybor City
|Southern Terminus of SR-585|
|I-4 / SR 400 (Crosstown Connector)||To be completed in 2013|
|8.143||10||SR 569 (39th Street)||No eastbound exit||Eastbound access to the express lanes at 34th St|
|9.053||11||US 41 (Tamiami Trail) / SR 599|
|East toll plaza ($1.75, $1.50 with SunPass)|
|11.067||12||78th Street||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance||Toll gantry for the express lanes ($1.75, $1.50 with SunPass)|
|Brandon||Eastbound and westbound access to and from the express lanes|
|12.911||13||US 301 / SR 43|
|13.713||14||Falkenburg Road||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|14.120||15||I-75 / SR 93A – Naples, Ocala||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; signed as exits 15A (south) and 15B (north)||Eastern terminus of express lanes at Providence Rd|