As the RNC approaches, Tampa officials discuss Isaac and downtown life

Skelton explicitly said that if people don't need to take a trip into Tampa, it would "probably be good not to be out there with all of the other congestion out there," but Buckhorn and Castor wouldn't go that far.

"We encourage people to come downtown and experience democracy at the sidewalk level," Buckhorn said. "I want our citizens to enjoy this and to be proud of what Tampa is accomplishing." He added that it will be hard to find street parking, but stressed that there will still be open spaces and garages.

Chief Castor said she didn't want to discourage anybody from visiting downtown Tampa, but she noted that Monday might be the most difficult day to contend with, since motorists heading to work will deal with a much different landscape than usual.

As far as Tropical Storm Isaac is concerned, Buckhorn called the issue "fluid," saying "a lot will be determined by the wind gusts." He added that he didn't anticipate a tidal surge to affect the Tampa Bay Times Forum or the Tampa Convention Center, but "this will be determined by an hour to hour basis."

A couple of hours after the mayor spoke, city officials announced that they were making sandbags available for city residents at three different locations until 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

  • FDOT's Don Skelton & Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn Saturday morning

If you've passed through the south part of downtown Tampa since Friday, you know it's completely different due to road closures and a decrease of parking spaces for the RNC. And that's before Tropical Storm Isaac potentially wreaks havoc, which could make some city streets unnavigable.

Saturday morning, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Police Chief Jane Castor, and Florida Department of Transportation Regional Secretary Don Skelton spoke briefly with reporters at the city's Transportation and Information Command Center. They cautioned those who live or work in the city that things will be different throughout the next week.

The briefing came after months of a public information campaign by Team Buckhorn that prepared city residents — and those who work in the area — for how they could be deleteriously affected by the convention.

The message from Chief Castor was elementary. "Know before you go," she repeated about people traveling into Tampa. She suggested they review the road closures listed on the city's website.

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