TAMPA, Fla. – After years of backlash over the Florida Department of Transportation’s plans to add toll lanes to I-275 through Tampa's urban core, the agency has revised its plan to exclude toll lanes north of downtown.
It was news celebrated in neighborhoods like Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights and Ybor City that could be impacted by highway expansion.
"I hope that it'll hold. I need to wait and see. I'm not confident, but I'm hopeful,” said Seminole Heights resident Joy Fritz. “This is my home. This is where I've been for 25 years. It's a walking community, and I would like to be able to stay here until I die."
FDOT shared details on the updated plan with the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday as it works through a solution to the area’s traffic snares.
However, the presentation showed the new plan still calls for expansion through the downtown core.
Of the four options FDOT is considering for the downtown interchange, all call for right-of-way expansions ranging from 30 parcels to nearly 200 parcels. The least invasive option calls for elevated lanes.
FDOT says the four downtown interchange options drastically reduce the right-of-way impacts. Transportation officials say the interchange needs to be updated to create better traffic flow.
Neighbors would rather see more emphasis on mass transit and remain concerned that any expansion will be devastating to their communities.
They also fear it is a continuation of the destructive highway expansion patterns of the 1960s that razed historic sections of Tampa's African-American community that never recovered.
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