Ashley’s Diet

This much we can all agree on. The status quo of Ashley Drive is unacceptable for anyone wanting to cross it. At rush hour it’s beyond daunting.

Now fast forward a few years. There’s the new Tampa Museum of Art, the new Children’s Museum, the new Curtis Hixon Park, the regional library and a finished, pedestrian-attracting Riverwalk. Then put actual people into the nearby SkyPoint and Element condos and the Twelve Hotel and Residences.

What had been merely unacceptable is now impossible.

That scary scenario has prompted Tampa city council member Linda Saul-Sena to recommend putting Ashley on a “road diet.”

In Saul-Senaspeak, that means reducing the six lanes to four and then weaning Ashley off of excess, cut-through traffic by diverting it to a redesigned Tampa Street.

To that end, she wants Mayor Pam Iorio to get her transportation consultants to reconfigure Tampa Street. Expect her to use her city council forum aggressively.

“We are spending over $100 million in public and private money on the west side of Ashley Drive and $100 million in private money is being spent on the east side,” pointedly notes Saul-Sena. “Let’s redesign this critical boulevard so that we can cross the street and live to tell!”

Suffice it to say, Saul-Sena wants Ashley more aesthetic as well as safer. She wants a real boulevard, one that would be an inducement to visitors and a signal to drivers that this is no longer the fastest, most expeditious route through downtown.

“Drivers are smart,” observes Saul-Sena. “If they move slowly on Ashley Drive and rapidly on Tampa Street, they will select the experience they want – scenic or speedy.”

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