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Public Hearing on I-4 Toll Lanes Held Monday

Florida Department of Transportation

The public is getting a chance to share its take on a Department of Transportation plan to add 22 miles of express lanes along Interstate 4.

It's all part of the state's master plan for the region's major roadways. That includes a controversial expansion at the intersection of I-4 and Interstate 275 in downtown Tampa.

However, Monday's public hearing will focus on the stretch of I-4 between 50th Street in Tampa and the Polk Parkway near Lakeland. The master plan would place toll lanes next to the existing interstate.

Residents upset with the DOT's master plan already have been vocal - protesting to local governments - including the Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

One of those groups is a political action committee called D.R.I.V.E. (Drivers Ready to Improve, Vote and Empower). They're trying to organize a Constitutional amendment to give voters the power to give a thumbs up or down to toll plans.

In a statement, D.R.I.V.E. Chairperson Chris Wills remarked, “While FDOT has done some great things over their 100 year history, in recent years they have regrettably resorted to rampant unfair tolling practices.  Most of the tolls being expanded state-wide don’t go into effect until after the 2016 Presidential Election.  That means we have a narrow window of opportunity to put a stop to the expansion of those unfair tolling practices, by amending our state’s constitution during the November 2016 Election, and giving Floridians the power to vote on tolls.  On their centennial, Floridians want FDOT to hear our message loud and clear, NO MORE TOLLS…without voter approval!”

State transportation officials say no final decision have been made.

Monday's meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the T-Pepin Hospitality Centre, on 50th Street in Tampa.



Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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