Additional Funds Will Go Toward Crucial Tampa Bay Road Projects, DeSantis Says
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday announced upgrades to three major road projects in the greater Tampa Bay region, saying the plans will ease traffic across the area and boost the local economy.
During Monday's press conference at a construction site near the Howard Frankland Bridge in Tampa, Gov. Ron DeSantis said three projects from the Tampa Bay region will benefit from additional funds that were part of a $2 billion infrastructure package approved during this year's legislative session.
DeSantis said each project will help local businesses while also continuing to attract tourists to the region.
"Everywhere you look, there's a new community being built,” he said. “That's great, but that also requires us to have the type of infrastructure in place that's going to be able to support that. We're doing that here, but I think that this will be something that will be very, very good. But not only folks who live and work in this community, but people who come and visit.”
The projects include enhancements to the on-going Howard Frankland expansion plan which began in the fall of 2020 and is slated to be done in 2025. A new span will become the new southbound bridge, with four general-use lanes, four tolled express lanes, and a 12-foot-wide bike and pedestrian trail.
As part of the construction, some lane closures will take place on the bridge through Friday night.
DeSantis also noted the downtown Tampa interchange project is important because drivers routinely experience substantial traffic backups between two major highways, I-4 and I-275.
"This interchange is a key chokepoint that's been identified as one of the most congested interchanges for freight movement in the country, and it's about time that we do something about it,” he said.
DeSantis said additional dollars will speed up construction on the downtown interchange.
Finally, the infrastructure funding will include modernizing the Westshore interchange. When it’s completed, the improvement project will link the Howard Frankland Bridge, Courtney Campbell Causeway, Veterans Expressway and Tampa International Airport.
The Florida Department of Transportation will add regular and express lanes to the interchange, and surface streets will be reconnected beneath the structure.
DeSantis said this project is a priority for House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, who was also at the press conference.
“We realized that whether you live in Pasco County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough— this Westshore interchange matters for you,” said Sprowls. “Today is a great day to be from Tampa Bay. This is probably the most significant transportation infrastructure project that the state has undertaken in my lifetime. It will leave a lasting legacy for the Tampa Bay area and her continued growth.”