City of Tampa finally gets closer to building East West Road in New Tampa by Mitch E. Perry

06/01/06

Today the Tampa City Council approved selling the East-West Road Corridor to the Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority for $ 4 million dollars. The sale will allow the authority to now negotiate with a contractor to bid on and then build the long delayed road that would relieve traffic congestion in New Tampa.

Tampa City Attorney David Smith told the Council that because neither the City, nor the Expressway Authority, can pay for the new road itself –now estimated to cost around$150 million dollars – the idea is to allow a private financier to company to finance the road’s construction and then collect a return on the investment in time.

These public-private partnerships, also called P3’s – have been used in Europe and Asia, but never in Florida (roll tape#1 o.q.�accelerates dramatically�)

There will actually be 2 roads built to ultimately relieve traffic congestions that have bogged down Bruce B. Downs Boulevard for years. The East-West Toll road would connect I-275 about 3 miles north of the Bears Avenue exit to Commerce Park Boulevard.

The toll road would then connect to a bridge over I-75 to New Tampa Boulevard.

For years, part of the delay in constructing a road had to do with environmental implications for the land. Councilwoman Linda Saul Sena said she was concerned if the develop might employ a less expensive but more environmentally destructive form of construction and asked City Attorney David Smith about that concern(roll tape#2 o.q.�you do not�)

Smith elaborated, but essentially said that the City would not have influence over how the road is built… Councilman John Dingfelder said that if there were concerns, other groups could intervene (roll tape#3 o.q.’and things like that�)

Ralph Mervin is with the Expressway Authority. He assured Saul-Sena that because of the long term relationship the Expressway plans to have with the contractor, environmental concerns WILL be addressed (roll tape#4 o.q.�to all of us�)

Garrison Eurett is the Managing Partner for the Tampa Palms Professional Center. He said he was encouraged that the City has put time limits on getting the road built. (roll tape#5 o.q.�greatly appreciated�)………

New Tampa is represented on the City Council by Sean Harrison. He said that with the expensive price tags on road construction, this 3P project is probably the wave of the future.

He also alluded to the concern of environmentalists over the years, which he said is why the project now is so much more expensive than had been mentioned just a few years ago (roll tape#6 o.q.’people in opposition�)

Harrison also expressed concern for the some residents who will be impacted by the construction and the roads, and hopes that the contractor will listen those neighbors.

He also expressed concern for the West Meadows area community, that as the bridge is developed.

City officials say they hope to have the road and bridge constructed within 4 years time.

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