Large crowd expected at TBX toll lanes meeting

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) –  The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will make a big decision on Wednesday night that will have a major impact on the future of traffic in the Tampa Bay area.

The commission is voting on whether to move forward with a multi-billion dollar plan called Tampa Bay Express or TBX. The meeting is expected to be several hours long with a lot of public comment.

TBX would add express toll lanes to I-275 from south of Gandy Boulevard to Bearss Avenue; on I-4 from the junction to Polk Parkway;  and on I-75 from south of State Road 674 to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. It would also completely overhaul the Howard Frankland Bridge.

At the Robert Saunders library on Wednesday,  Hillsborough County Commissioner and MPO member, Kevin Beckner held an open forum for people to get information and express their concerns. Linda Funkhouser thinks the tolls would be a waste of money. “It’s not really for the people,” she said.

But, those in favor of the roadway master plan said it absolutely is for the people and will end the 40 hours of delays per year we all spend in traffic and cut down on $1.3 billion in lost wages and fuel costs.

“The result of it will be to reduce congestion, to add capacity for the hundreds of thousands of new people moving into this market and to lay the foundation of other transit options in the future,” said Rick Homan of the group TBX Yes.

But, members of the Stop TBX movement said it won’t lay a foundation, actually, it will destroy one. And the end result, they say, it still won’t eliminate traffic congestion.

“It’s so much damage done to the community and the cultural assets, then if it’s not going to do what it’s supposed to do, then don’t do it, cause the collateral damage alone, environmentally, everyone living in the urban center,” said Mit Patel.

Wednesday night’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Hillsborough County Government Center in downtown Tampa.

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