TAMPA, Fla. – Hillsborough County leaders voted to move forward with a controversial plan to expand toll lanes to Tampa Bay’s interstates.
The five-year Tampa Bay Next plan will add 90 miles of toll lanes to the area’s interstates.
Hillsborough County leaders approved the plan by a 12-3 vote Tuesday night, despite hearing 3.5 hours of people opposing the plan.
More than $300 million is allocated for Tampa Bay Next, which will go towards rebuilding of the Howard Frankland Bridge. The bay’s most traveled bridge is nearing the end of its lifespan and will soon be structurally deficient.
Video: Tampa Bay Next plan
Beverly Ward, an independent consultant and transportation expert, says the plan will do irreparable damage to the city's urban core, and will disproportionately impact minority and low-income communities nearby.
FDOT has touted the Tampa Bay Next plan as part of the solution to traffic problems in the area. However, many residents and community activists say they do not see much difference between the previous version of the project, Tampa Bay Express.
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