Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fletcher Ave Complete Street Complete Fail

A stretch of Fletcher Avenue from Nebraska Avenue to Bruce B Downs Boulevard was redeveloped by Hillsborough County into  a "compete street" in early 2015 at a cost of $5 million. Unfortunately, it is a complete fail, yet many more complete streets are a substantial part of the Hillsborough transportation sales tax hike.
A complete street is
[A] transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, cycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods.
This stretch of Fletcher is near one of the largest economic and employment centers in the county, with USF, the James Haley VA Hospital, Florida Hospital, and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center all in the area. Highly touted at the time by local urban planners and politicians, the Fletcher Avenue complete street project included
  • five mid-block pedestrian crossings, incorporating first-of-its-kind overhead warning beacon installations
  • one mid-block pedestrian crossing with a traffic signal
  • raised concrete pedestrian refuge islands
  • raised concrete traffic separators
  • energy efficient LED street lighting in the medians
The project also installed additional sidewalks near the University of South Florida, upgraded handicap access ramps at crossings and intersections, and reduced the speed limit to 35 miles per hour. An additional mile and a half of marked bicycle lanes also created a 3-mile continuous segment along Fletcher Avenue between Nebraska Avenue and 50th Street.
To make space for the new on road bike paths, the county also narrowed the traffic lanes and reduced the speed limits.

How well has it actually worked? We did a little study the morning or October 16, around 7:40 - 8:30 am during rush hour to find out.

This stretch of Fletcher Ave is an arterial road, averages 37,000 vehicles per day, and over 2,000 vehicles per hour at peak times.

Fletcher Ave "complete streets"
October 16, 2018

We observed over a thousand cars, and a handful of pedestrians and bus riders. The few bicyclists riding near us rode on the sidewalk or in parking lots, not on the bike paths. Trash was all over, most notably around HART bus stops.

People continue to drive. It does not appear anyone has changed their preferred mode of transportation since Fletcher was redeveloped as a complete street.

You may hear other terms such as traffic calming, road diets, or boulevarding in discussions around transportation, safety and complete streets. Regardless, they impede traffic flow, and do little for the few pedestrians and bicyclists, and will only further further contribute to gridlock.

Fletcher has failed as a complete street, and the "improvements" have further contributed to congestion for thousands motorists while minimally improve safety for the relatively few pedestrians and cyclists.  We are pro-safety, but smart safety that has to balance with the needs of the entire community. Mixing cyclists directly with 37,000 vehicles per day is just stupid if you believe in safety for cyclists. Don't ask me, ask the cyclists who chose to ride on the sidewalks and through the parking lots rather than the bike lanes. They have a choice where to ride, and they chose the safer option.

All For Transportation has promoted 450 miles of complete streets in their plan. Based on the 1.5 miles and $5 million for the Fletcher Avenue complete street, over $3 million per mile, you can expect their plan to spend upwards of $1.5 BILLION for complete streets in the AFT plan!

When you're being asked to raise your sales tax 1 percent, which includes 450 more miles of complete streets across Hillsborough County, ask yourself if it is worth it or not.


  1. I have been a daily commuter from Carrollwood to Brandon, so have taken every route possible East. Fowler definitely feels more congested as people generally avoid Fletcher now. Busch to 301 is actually better at times.

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