Mayor Jane Castor announced the completion of an innovative new redesign for Cass Street, filling a critical gap in the city's Green Spine Cycle Track with safer connections for walking and cycling, and driving to and from West Tampa, the University of Tampa, and Downtown.
The quarter-mile project area spans the bridge over the Hillsborough River, reconnecting residents from West Tampa on foot or bike with the Straz Center, the Tampa Museum of Art, Downtown offices, sports arenas, and facilities. It also better connects the Riverwalk across Cass Street. In the past five years, there have been more than 50 crashes along this segment of Cass Street, including one death and one severe injury.
"This isn't just one street in one neighborhood. This fills the missing link in our city's premier cycle track, the Green Spine, and marks a new approach to Tampa's roads to connect more people with jobs, schools, recreation, and opportunities," Mayor Castor said. "With the right plan and playbook, we can make our streets safer while creating streets as places."
The Cass Street project is the first in the City of Tampa's Quick Build Program, bringing local roadway improvements that can make a positive impact on safety and traffic. The design draws on new, nationally recognized standards for safe street design that are now being adopted in the city's municipal code. Tampa's Quick Build program uses ready transportation materials like paint, signs, and pavement markings in a shorter time and at a lower cost than traditional projects.
The Mayor was joined by Tampa Mobility Team members and Janette Sadik-Khan of Bloomberg Associates. Bloomberg Associates is a pro bono organization founded by the former mayor that works with mayors to improve the quality of life in cities. NACTO is a nonprofit made up of nearly 100 American transportation agencies, developing and sharing innovative roadway designs.
Sadik-Khan, a former Commissioner of the New York City Dept. of Transportation, chairs the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Mobility Department planners and engineers worked with Janette's team on the project's design, developing location-specific geometric and striping strategies that have been used in other American cities. Scott Gossen, Director of Design and Construction Services from the University of Tampa, also attended.
"Wherever you have streets, you have the resources to reimagine a city,” said Janette Sadik-Khan. “By connecting Cass as a safe walking and biking corridor, Mayor Castor and her team are reconnecting Tampa’s communities with roadway designs that protect everybody and that show what the city’s streets are capable of.”
The Cass Street Quick Build Project represents an innovative approach to roadway design as the City of Tampa formally adopts NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide, a design standard now used in nearly 100 American cities and many state transportation departments and officially endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration. The peer-drafted and reviewed guide contains hundreds of models for safe street designs for cities of different sizes. It focuses on reorganizing roadway geometry to work better for people to walk, ride bikes, and take public transportation.
City of Tampa Mobility crews working on the Cass Street Project.
The Redesign of Cass Street
Bloomberg Associates and NACTO staff worked with Tampa Mobility Department planners and engineers to create the roadway design, locating the two-way path on the south side of the roadway along Cass Street between N. Boulevard and Gasparilla Plaza. The project provides a safer connection across the river for University of Tampa students, faculty, staff, and all users. Previously, the Green Spine Cycle Track ended one block short of the bridge on both sides of the river.
The design includes the addition of dedicated right and left turns into the Tampa Prep parking lot and a left turn lane into the University of Tampa, improving accessibility and safety for those traveling to and from these schools.
The design also includes continuing the cycle track across the Cass Street Bridge, separated with bike curbing and vertical delineators. It will be painted green in the coming weeks as an official part of the Green Spine Cycle Track.
Mobility Department engineers also redesigned part of the intersection of North Boulevard and Cass Street, creating a shorter crossing distance for pedestrians and cyclists to minimize crashes. The team also added a micromobility hub for scooter parking.
Tampa's Mobility Team implemented the $250,000 project over two weeks in January and completed it on January 20, 2023.
The project builds on Tampa's Vision Zero efforts to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths. Recent statistics show that Tampa roads are some of the most dangerous in the country, with an average of 44 people killed and 289 people severely injured each year.
With the assistance of Bloomberg Associates, City of Tampa leaders are implementing a range of policies and projects like the Cass Street Quick Build, which supports bike share and cycling infrastructure, bus rapid transit systems, modern transportation solutions, and walkable streets.
In the past four years, the City of Tampa has constructed 21 miles of new bike lanes and nearly 2.5 miles of protected bike lanes, including segments of the Green Spine Cycle Track and Cumberland Avenue in Water Street.