Downtown pile-ups should not affect USF
Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 00:08
With the Republican National Convention beginning the same week as USF classes, the energized event may not be much of a party for USF commuters.
The convention, which is expected to bring 50,000 visitors to Tampa, will begin on Aug. 27 and last until Thursday. Along with the exposure for Tampa Bay, comes a potential inconvenience for students living off-campus and commuting employees — congested roads.
Meredyth Censullo, traffic reporter for ABC Actions News, said commuters who do not need to travel near or through downtown Tampa, won’t feel the effects of the convention.
“I think most people won’t even know it’s in town,” she said.
According to the City of Tampa, road closures for the three day convention will begin from noon on Aug. 25 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 31, in which mostly all streets south of Whiting Street will be closed.
USF Vice Provost Dwayne Smith sent an email to faculty on Monday, indicating administrators considered eliminating first-week attendance being recorded, but it would violate federal regulation. They also considered delaying the first week of classes due to the convention.
“It was quickly determined that doing so would probably cause more problems than it would solve,” Smith wrote.
But the decision, he said, on how to handle attendance ultimately remains in the hands of each students’ professors.
He further advised to plan ahead when traveling between the USF Tampa campus and home, citing a website link for Censullo’s seven-page FAQ for RNC traffic.
Censullo said as far as she knows it’s the most comprehensive list – including road closures and change in traffic patterns for most of Tampa Bay – and encourages the USF community to reference it during the RNC sessions.
“The good thing is that most of the sessions that are taking place are not beginning or ending during the main commuter hours,” she said. “For the delegates heading into downtown, that’s going to happen around lunchtime or after. The good news for USF is that none of the delegates are staying in the USF area.”
Censullo encouraged USF commuters to tweet questions to @TampaBayTraffic — her account, which provides consistent traffic updates.
Dee Siscoe, Interim Vice President for USF Student Affairs, sent an email to students on Aug. 21, and wrote that the Florida Department of Transportation launched “511 Traveler Information System,” where commuters can personalize their information on the state’s website www.FL511.com or by dialing 511.
The City of Tampa also launched a 24/7 hotline for commuters who had additional questions on traffic patterns during the RNC. That number is 866-762-8687.
“Whether you choose to engage in RNC activities or not, you will likely be affected by the convention if you leave campus.” Siscoe said.