August 2017 – Are you interested in the future of Brandon? The Brandon Corridor & Mixed Use Centers Pilot Project study area is currently home to 77,000 residents and nearly 37,000 jobs. Should future development contain more mixed uses, allowing for work, home, and play to occur along the same street or even the same block?
Chances are traffic along the east-west corridors of Brandon Boulevard, Lumsden Road, and Bloomingdale Avenue are already affecting your life. Monday through Friday, thousands of County residents who live outside the study area travel these roads, many of them to jobs in Downtown Tampa, Westshore Business District, MacDill Air Force Base, or the University of South Florida and surrounding hospitals. What options for maintaining/improving mobility and safety for the Brandon Community and those who find themselves traveling through it do we have? Should we widen roads such as Lumsden Road; invest in transit along Brandon Boulevard; add reversible lanes along Bloomingdale Avenue? This study is asking these and other questions while building on past recommendations including: the Planning Commission’s 2014 Strip Commercial and Mixed-Use Development in Hillsborough County, the Brandon Community Plan, and the MPO’s 2013 State Road 60 – Brandon Boulevard Freight Compatibility Study.
What we have learned so far
The Brandon area has untapped potential with certain constraints. Eleven areas in Brandon were identified to be considered mixed-use centers, with varying degrees of future development planned in each. The concept for these centers includes better connectivity — internally, and to each other — and a mix of uses that allows for more walking and bicycling for daily trips. Encouraging the right mix of uses, in the right areas of the County, can reduce the number and length of vehicle trips. It can also make transit investments, such as Bus Rapid Transit, more viable.
The Brandon Boulevard (State Road 60) corridor is a major commercial corridor that serves the people living and working in Brandon and many commuters travelling through as well. Anchored by a mall and major hospital, Brandon Boulevard could attract more development and become more compact and urban over time. Mixed-use and higher density residential developments have potential in the real estate market. This area could also support better transit such as rapid buses in dedicated lanes along Brandon Boulevard or Oakfield Drive.
The Lumsden Road corridor, east of Interstate-75, is an area of heavy retail that quickly transitions to residential with scattered commercial at intersections. Like much of the Brandon community, it could benefit from greater connectivity, such as better connections between local streets. One study finding was that Hillsborough County’s proposed widening of Lithia-Pinecrest Road will put traffic pressure on Lumsden, east of Kings Ave. Widening Lumsden to six lanes could improve traffic flow between Kings and Lithia-Pinecrest, but would have significant cost due to the need to purchase property for the widening.
Looking at more out-of-the-box strategies to address Brandon’s east-west travel needs, the feasibility of a reversible lane along Bloomingdale Avenue was studied. Repurposing the left turn lane in the center of the road to be a through lane at rush hours only would give Bloomingdale the capacity of a six-lane road without adding more pavement. Other cities, such as Salt Lake City, Utah, have built reversible lanes that have variable overhead signs to let drivers know if the lane is open. The disadvantage of this strategy is that eliminating left turns at rush hour would reduce access to businesses along the road. Intersections would have to be reworked, and there could be traffic pressure on side streets, where drivers might go to make a u-turn.
We want your input
Please visit the project web page to review and comment on the findings and issues to date. Here you can comment on the eleven specific areas identified with the potential to transform into a more connected community, while incorporating transportation improvements to foster safer and more efficient connections to and within these areas. The overall goal is to improve the entire network, so those who travel through and those who travel within both benefit. These transportation options are far reaching and have impact beyond the study area. Your input is important to ensure the study results meet the needs of residents and businesses in the Brandon area. The opportunity to comment on the study does not end here – a series of meetings before the MPO, Planning Commission, and Board Of County Commissioners will occur in fall 2017.