Tampa City Council members sympathize with residents furious about FDOT plans for interstate expansion

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Residents packed the seats and stood along the walls of the Tampa Council chambers Thursday morning; most were there to oppose plans by the Florida Department of Transportation to expand the interstate highways in Tampa to include express toll lanes.

Fourteen people spoke out during public comment against these what are being called “Lexus Lanes.” Resident Jon Dengware expressed concerns that homeowners and businesses near the interstates would be displaced, especially near Ybor City, downtown and Tampa Heights.

Public comment was extended twice because of the number of people who wanted to speak out against expanding the Florida Department of Transportation’s plan.

Tampa City Council members were meeting as the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency and unanimously agreed to several measures to try to convince FDOT to stop the Lexus Lanes. They will:

Write a letter to state legislators.

Ask the FDOT for a seat at the table during a review of the project.

Look into whether Tampa could file a legal complaint to stop the toll lanes.

Ask the local Metropolitan Planning Organization to remove the proposed expressway expansion from its plan.

At the same meeting, Tampa’s Community Redevelopment Agency moved forward with the creation of a West Tampa CRA. Drew Park CRA manager Jeanette LaRussa Fenton said a low-income housing development west of the Hillsborough River would be torn down.

Stopping the destruction of the North Boulevard Homes became a major goal of Occupy Tampa after its encampment moved to nearby Voice of Freedom Park in 2012.