TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – Over the last two days, the Florida Department of Transportation has made rounds at Tampa City Council and Hillsborough County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, giving its scheduled quarterly update on plans to redo parts of the interstates in the area.
While most MPO officials applauded the agency for working with the community and reworking proposals to minimize the impact on neighborhoods, some continued to caution against any construction that would call for widening the roads.
"We've had never-ending interstate construction for 50 years,” said MPO board member Guido Maniscalco. “You have to look at the right-of-way, and if they need anything else, what properties are going to be affected, and how neighborhoods and people, and their livelihoods are going to be affected."
Maniscalco also represents District 6 in the city of Tampa, which includes much of West Tampa. He said many of his constituents fear being displaced.
FDOT officials said there should be no impact on the West Tampa area as the agency is considering widening roads to the inside versus the outside.
“We’re trying to minimize the right-of-way impacts,” said Ed McKinney, FDOT District 7 planning, and environmental administrator. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what’s going on, what we’re doing, what we’re impacting, and that’s what we’re trying to do is be out in the community, work one-on-one with folks, and show them what the real picture is.”
However, because FDOT has not released any official plans, Maniscalco said it’s hard to know what will really happen.
“It’s not just taking one or two houses,” said Maniscalco. “[FDOT] could wipe out entire areas.”
While some of the proposals did include interstate widening near the Westshore Plaza area, at least one of the proposals FDOT showed city council and the MPO include elevated lanes.
“The answer the first time they came to us was that they would have to take more lanes, more property in order to build up, which still doesn’t make sense to me,” said Councilman Mike Suarez. “Today, they didn’t say that. They can probably solve the problem and do it with an elevated road and have their problem solved and not affect the neighborhoods. That’s my goal.”
For more information on FDOT’s current proposals, visit www.tampabaynext.com
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