On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis was joined by state Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Tribly, state House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Florida Department of Transportation Sec. Kevin Thibault to announce three transportation projects that they say will improve travel in the Tampa Bay area.
These projects are part of a $2 billion investment in the 2021-2022 budget to make transportation improvements in Florida highways and seaports. The three projects DeSantis announced are enhancements to the Howard Frankland Bridge, the advancement of the Westshore Interchange, and the advancement of the I-275, I-4 Interchange.
“The Tampa region is growing exponentially, and it’s important that we support that growth with strong infrastructure,” said DeSantis. “Today, I was proud to be joined by Speaker Sprowls, President Simpson and Secretary Thibault to announce three key projects for the Tampa Bay region, which represent a historically significant investment in the region’s transportation network.”
“I want to thank the governor for his leadership and the foresight he had during the early months of the pandemic to realize that with no one on the roads, it was a perfect time to get to work on several critical highway projects,” said Simpson. “Moving forward on these road projects also kept so many of our essential workers employed during a difficult time. We are seeing the results of that effort today. With additional funds in the budget this year, we are building on that momentum and doing the work necessary to get ahead of the curve in prioritizing Florida’s infrastructure.”
“It is a big day for regional transportation in Tampa Bay as we announce expedited timing on the vital Westshore Interchange project,” said Sprowls. “Accelerating the project is a critical step to address one of the most important Tampa Bay transportation issues in my lifetime. Thank you to Gov. DeSantis for his strong support and leadership. The impact of this announcement cannot be overstated.”
“The project advancements announced today are critical to enhancing safety and connectivity within the Tampa region and across Florida’s overall transportation system,” said Thibault. “The Westshore and Downtown Tampa interchange projects will directly enhance mobility in the region, and I am eager to get these projects completed much earlier than previously planned.”
More information about the three projects is provided below:
HOWARD FRANKLAND BRIDGE
One of the region’s most important transportation projects is the Howard Frankland Bridge. The bridge was first built in 1959, and is now more than 60 years old. FDOT is adding enhancements and capacity to the bridge that will modernize the essential connection between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, and support the regional economy.
Tampa’s Westshore Interchange is one of the region’s top transportation priorities. The modernization of the Westshore Interchange will transform the area and allow efficient, safe and reliable travel for the more than 4,000 businesses, 96,000 employees and the countless visitors who come from the Tampa International Airport to watch the world champion Bucs and Lightning play. The early phases of this project represent over $560 million in direct investment in the local economy, and with the future phases coming online soon, this investment will exceed $1.2 billion.
DOWNTOWN TAMPA I-275, I-4 INTERCHANGE
FDOT will be advancing the downtown Tampa Interchange between I-275 and I-4, representing an investment of more than $150 million into the local economy. Currently, drivers that use the Downtown Tampa Interchange experience significant backups regularly. The interchange is a key chokepoint that has been identified as one of the most congested interchanges for freight movement in the country. FDOT’s improvements to the interchange will address the choke point and work to alleviate congestion.