The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization has voted to move ahead with the Tampa Bay Express project.
That's the controversial $6 billion plan known as TBX that would eventually add 90 miles of express toll lanes to local interstates.
The vote finally came around 2 a.m. Thursday, following about seven hours of public comment.
Critics say the construction will harm historic neighborhoods and have a greater negative impact on minority neighborhoods.
Michelle Cookson with Sunshine Citizens has long been against the plan. She promised that the fight is not over.
“While we haven't seen a vote that we would prefer, this is part of a long process that's going to continue because we're going to continue to have everybody engaged in that conversation and we're going to continue to fight for what we know we need, which is multi modal transportation,” Cookson said.
Rhonda Triplett-Coleman was among the more than 180 residents to speak out. She's against the plan because she said the expansion would destroy historic Tampa neighborhoods.
“I hear constantly, today all of the people saying they were worried about getting home to their children,” Triplett-Coleman said. “All that's important, but what about the neighborhoods that you're tearing down? What about those people?”
Colin Kennard, an active-duty marine stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, said it is a matter of spending time with family.
“It's kind of embarrassing being the guy that's there picking up his kids late. When Ms. Milly calls you and says ‘Mr. Kennard, you need to pick up your kids.’ ‘No, I know, Ms. Milly, I've just been sitting on the Howard Franklin for the past two hours.’”
Other supporters agree that the paid express lanes will speed up commute time. They also say it will be a big boost to the local economy.
The final vote was 12-4 in favor.
TBX won't happen overnight. When completed -- decades from now -- managed toll lanes will stretch from parts of Pasco County south to Manatee County and include parts of I-75, I-275 and I-4.
Tolls will vary depending on the volume of traffic.