Elections

RNC means potential traffic tie-ups for Manatee commuters to Tampa-St. Pete

MANATEE -- Commuters beware: The Republican National Convention could make the trip to work a nightmare next week.

Lanes on Interstate 75 northbound will be clogged with out-of-state visitors.

Roads in Pinellas and Hillsborough will be closed for the event. Detours may change constantly.

Added security will be roaming the streets to ensure extra precaution is taken.

And all of that spells trouble for Manatee County residents that make the 45 minute hike north to Tampa for work every morning, and vice versa.

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority has launched a new website designed to help. The “Commuter Solutions” website provides residents and visitors with links to transportation information to help beat the congestion and continue a safe commute.

“There’s going to be a trickle down into this area,” said Amanda Pasik, a public relations coordinator with Carlson Studios in Sarasota, which is helping TBARTA market the website. “Most of the traffic jams will be downtown Tampa, but a lot of people in Bradenton commute to Tampa.”

In less than a week, more than 50,000 people from around the country will be flooding Tampa’s streets for the RNC Aug. 27-30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Due to lane closures and detours to accommodate the convention, surrounding roadways will experience a significant increase in congestion.

While the main convention activities will be in downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg, commuters throughout the region will likely face unplanned detours and road closures, according to TBARTA.

The agency’s new website, www.RNC-Traffic.com, includes maps of available parking, planned road closures, transit detours and current traffic conditions.

TBARTA is also encouraging commuters to consider carpooling during the event, with links on the site to a free online ride-matching tool at www.tampabayrideshare.org.

“This is a major event to showcase the Tampa Bay region and we know transportation information and options are critical,” TBARTA Executive Director Bob Clifford said in a statement. “We wanted to create a regional transportation hub to help people find the information they need.”

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