More than $1 billion will be going toward relieving one of the most clogged roadways and biggest commuter headaches in Tampa Bay.
On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation announced a $1.4 billion project to rebuild the Westshore Interchange, which links Interstate 275 with State Road 60 and the Veterans Expressway.
“As our population continues to increase, we remain committed to improving our transportation infrastructure through strategic innovation,” DeSantis said in a news release.
“By significantly relieving traffic congestion, this reconstruction project will provide motorists a more effective way to travel through the region. Additionally, it will add capacity for future growth and improve connectivity for Tampa’s residents, businesses and visitors.”
The project will coincide with the reconstruction of the Howard Frankland Bridge starting next year, and is expected to begin in fiscal year 2023-24, according to a news release from DeSantis’ office.
When it is completed, the project will link the Howard Frankland Bridge, Courtney Campbell Causeway, Veterans Expressway and Tampa International Airport.
“The rapid passenger growth we’ve seen at Tampa International Airport has certainly made its impact on our roadways and surrounding district and we’ve been advocating for the construction of this interchange to improve traffic flow,” said Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “This is a wonderful development that will greatly increase airport access to and from the entire Tampa Bay region and we’re thankful to see it funded.”
FDOT will add regular and express lanes to the interchange, and surface streets will be reconnected beneath the structure.
Transportation planners say that will benefit bikers and pedestrians, and relieve congestion on Westshore Boulevard.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said it also will link the WestShore District with downtown Tampa and transform it into a “thriving urban neighborhood that is safe and convenient to access by transit, bike or on foot.”
“We will now be able to reconnect local streets and neighborhoods, move forward with construction of the Westshore Intermodal Center, create a transit connection between Westshore and downtown Tampa – and much more,” Castor said.
Added St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman: "This is positive news for both sides of Tampa Bay. While we must remain focused on alternative and mass transit, reconstructing this interchange will be a boom to commerce and make life easier for residents and visitors. The future of St. Pete and Tampa has never been brighter."
Editor's Note: The Westshore Interchange project is expected to begin in fiscal year 2023-24. A previous verison of this story gave an incorrect time frame.