For Full Story: Tampa Bay Business Journal

Article By:

The state is about to embark on a first-ever project dubbed the “I-275 Bus on Shoulder Pilot Project” that would allow buses to ride along the shoulder on the interstate.

Civil engineering group HNTB filed a modification request with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to implement a pilot bus on shoulder project along a five-mile segment of Interstate 275 from 5th Avenue N to Gandy Boulevard for intermittent bus use during rush hour.

“This segment has shoulders available that can accommodate bus and right now traffic on that segment is not as bad as some other parts of the interstate. This is a perfect location for the pilot,” FDOT Modal Development Administrator Ming Gao told the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

He said FDOT is working with Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for the pilot project, which will run its buses on the shoulder.

The project is not part of any bus rapid transit study, but is meant to look at how buses may better operate on the shoulder of an interstate.

“We haven’t had a bus on shoulder project before on the interstate-highway. This will be the first in the state,” Gao said.

The department has set aside $2.5 million for the project.

A design-build contract will be advertised in the summer for the project; the department is hoping that will be completed in a year so that the buses will test the shoulder sometime next year.

“Right now we’re going through an assessment of the width and pavement conditions of the shoulder. There are rumble strips in the shoulder so if a bus rides on those rumble strips its rough; we may need to relocate the rumble strips and we need to figure out if we are adding width or enhancing the slope for shoulder,” Gao said regarding the work that needs to be done.

Once the shoulder project is completed, the buses will be able to ride in it during certain conditions such as the traffic speed dropping below 35 miles per hour, and if the bus then moves onto the shoulder it can’t go more than 15 mph faster than the speed of traffic.

Gao said projects like this have been done in places such as Minnesota; however, shoulders are wider there due to snow plowing purposes.