Although several Tampa residents spoke Thursday at a Tampa City Council meeting against the state's plan to add toll lanes to three major Interstates, their protests might not have any effect, because the decision ultimately rests with the state Department of Transportation.
The project, called the Tampa Bay Express, involves adding tolled express lanes on 87 miles of I-4, I-275 and I-75. The tolls would cost drivers up to $2 per mile.
Many at the council meeting expressed worries about the effect on Tampa's historic downtown and about Tampa Bay's car culture.
Elizabeth Corwin said the city should focus on making public transport reliable.
“The last three cities I lived in before I came to Tampa, I didn't have a vehicle, I didn't need a vehicle. I came to Tampa, I was determined to get by without a vehicle,” she said. “I lasted two weeks.”
Mit Patel, a member of the "Stop TBX" movement, questioned the high cost of the project.
“Do we need a choice that costs $9 billion? Is there other ways to address our transportation problems,” he asked.
The project has been added to a five-year priority plan by the state Department of Transportation, which will make the final decision.