SOUTH TAMPA - City officials this week took the first step toward improving the intersection of West Shore and Gandy boulevards, a major thoroughfare for people driving to and from MacDill Air Force Base, the West Shore business district and elsewhere in South Tampa.
The city council on Thursday approved a $90,957 contract with engineering firm H.W. Lochner, which will come up with a more efficient design for the busy intersection. Initial plans include creating second left-turn lanes on each side of the intersection, as well as adding more signs and building a bicycle path along West Shore south of Gandy.
Construction is expected to cost about $1.7 million, said David Vaughn, the city's director of contract administration.
During the design phase, officials will determine how much, if any, property the city needs to acquire for the project, he said. The city plans to call for contractor bids for the project in mid 2014, but the timetable could change if any property acquisition is needed.
Neighbors and business owners near the intersection say the project will help alleviate congested traffic in the area, which sometimes backs up on West Shore and onto the nearby Gandy Bridge.
"I think it's a good idea," said Jerry Frankhouser, president of the Bayside West Neighborhood Association. He said he has seen lines of vehicles back up on West Shore, north of the intersection.
Zachary Robinson, manager of Gandy Bait and Tackle, on Gandy just west of the intersection, said he thinks the changes will be beneficial so long as they don't impede access to businesses in the area.
"I think it will probably help," he said. "Traffic really backs up."