The state is tweaking its plan to replace the Howard Frankland Bridge.
The Florida Department of Transportation unveiled changes at a meeting in Tampa yesterday.
The old plan wanted to convert one of the four existing lanes in each direction into an express lane. That left drivers who don't want to pay a toll with just three lanes.
Ray Chiaramonte with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority said, now, the state wants the new structure to add two lanes and keep the ones that exist.
"So it is significantly different, as they're not taking away something someone can use for free now," Chiaramonte said.
Chiaramonte said the revised plan also involves using concrete barriers to separate the express toll lanes from the general use lanes. FDOT had not specified how it would separate the lanes in its earlier proposal.
The recommendation for concrete barriers is likely in response to the increase in crashes Miami has experienced since installing similar express lanes. Plastic polls were used to divide those lanes, giving drivers the opportunity to run over them to enter or exit the lanes when they’re not at designated access points.
“You’re not going to be able to go out of the concrete barriers,” Chiaramonte said.
Howard Frankland is a major route for commuters between Pinellas County and Downtown Tampa. Construction on its expansion is expected to start in 2019.
FDOT will hold hearings in the coming months to get public feedback.
This new proposal comes just days after WUSF's Florida Matters took a deep dive into the issue. To hear more listen to Florida Matters: TBX Debate.