Community activists want transit options, not just highways, under Tampa Bay Next

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Tampa Bay Express
Shirts of TBX opponents. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News.

The Tampa Bay region will undergo a transportation overhaul during the next several years under what’s being called Tampa Bay Next; the Florida Department of Transportation rolled it out after its predecessor, TBX, faced some local backlash.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, “The Regional Tampa Bay Next is a program to modernize Tampa Bay’s transportation infrastructure and prepare for the future.” It includes updating interstate highways, transit, facilities for bicycles and pedestrians, “complete streets,” and freight mobility.

In 2016-2017, Tampa Bay Next emerged as a replacement for – and some say a re-brand of – what used to be called TBX.

TBX included a plan to put express toll lanes on more miles of interstate highway in the Tampa Bay area. That’s still a part of Tampa Bay Next. But, according to the Tampa Bay Next  website, “FDOT … announced that it is no longer considering adding express lanes to I-275 north of the downtown (I-4) interchange.”

Some properties near the interstates will be torn down in order to expand the highways.

Part of Tampa Bay Next involves replacing one span of the Howard Frankland bridge. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020 to build a new bridge with a bike / pedestrian trail on the outside and two express toll lanes in each direction in addition to four southbound lanes. The existing four lanes of the southbound span will covert to northbound traffic. According to the FDOT website, in the future, that span could be made to accommodate rail transit.

Listen to the full show here:

 

WMNF invited FDOT on the show, but they didn’t have anyone available on short notice – so we’ll try to get them on the air on an upcoming program.

One TBX critic, Rick Fernandez, said on WMNF Thursday that transportation improvements should include a bus rapid transit system with dedicated BRT lanes. Fernandez is the immediate past President of the Tampa Heights Civic Association.

Listen:

Fernandez is also the Vice Chair of the MPO Citizens Advisory Committee and was recently appointed by Tampa City Council to the Independent Oversight Committee (which keeps an eye on spending from the new Hillsborough County Charter Transportation Surtax).

Another guest on the show, Chris Vela, is with the group Sunshine Citizens. He’s also president of the Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association.

 

During the show we also played comments left by listeners about several recent shows – about renewable energy, about blackface associated with the Governor of Virginia and about Saudi Arabia.

 

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