I (Storm Cunningham) lived in the Tampa Bay area of Florida for 15 years, and constantly appalled at the poor planning and wasteful land use in the Westshore area of Tampa, where State Road 60 met Interstate 275 near the Tampa International Airport.
So, I was very happy when—on October 24, 2019—Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that $1.4 billion had been approved to reconstruct the I-275/SR 60 Interchange. The project is scheduled for fiscal year 2023-2024.
The reconstruction of this major system-to-system interchange in the Westshore Business District, the largest employment center in Tampa Bay, will help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety for motorists and promote continued economic growth.
“The announcement of the funding approval for the Westshore Interchange rebuild and expansion is a huge victory for residents of Hillsborough County and the greater Tampa Bay Area,” said Representative Adam Hattersley.
“This project will be critical for alleviating traffic congestion and bottlenecks on the Howard Frankland Bridge that residents experience on their commutes every day. I’m grateful for the support of Governor DeSantis, FDOT, and the many transportation and infrastructure experts and advocates that helped to make this plan a reality for Hillsborough County’s future,” he added.
Besides being home to Tampa International Airport it hosts two professional sports facilities and over 4000 businesses. Westshore is where commuter, cargo and tourism traffic all converge.
“As our population continues to increase, we remain committed to improving our transportation infrastructure through strategic innovation,” said DeSantis. “By significantly relieving traffic congestion, this reconstruction project will provide motorists a more effective way to travel through the region. Additionally, it will add capacity for future growth and improve connectivity for Tampa’s residents, businesses and visitors.”
The project will connect the Howard Frankland Bridge, the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Veterans Expressway and Tampa International Airport with additional general purpose and express lanes.
“As a Senator representing both sides of Tampa Bay, I frequently travel the I-275/ SR 60 interchange,” said Senator Darryl Rouson. “I’m proud that our region has come together to support and successfully attain funding for this project which will help alleviate traffic congestion and enable livability and economic growth in the Tampa Bay region.”
This redevelopment has been identified as the number one regional transportation priority by the MPOs, County Commissions and City Councils in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, and will allow for the Westshore interchange to be coordinated with the reconstruction of the Howard Frankland Bridge, which will begin next year.
“We’re so excited about this project! It’s at the heart of our region, a lynchpin connection where major arteries converge and provide access to Tampa International Airport and one of Florida’s largest job districts,” said Beth Alden, Hillsborough County MPO Executive Director. “FDOT is clearly listening to our community with a design that improves local street connections and walk/bikeways as well as fixing the highway bottleneck, a top priority of this region’s MPOs for many years.”
At a local level, the project will provide a significant benefit to the walk/bike network and traffic circulation in the Westshore Business District by reconnecting local streets beneath the interstate to relieve traffic congestion on Westshore Boulevard and improve community access.
“The I-275/SR 60 Interchange project is a critical first step in my plan to transform Tampa’s transportation system,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “This major project will enable us to revolutionize the Westshore District into a thriving urban neighborhood that is safe and convenient to access by transit, bike or on foot. We will now be able to reconnect local streets and neighborhoods, move forward with construction of the Westshore Intermodal Center, create a transit connection between Westshore and Downtown Tampa – and much more! FDOT is a fantastic partner to the City of Tampa. Thank you to Governor DeSantis for the leadership. And, thank you to the entire FDOT team for the hard work making this project a reality.”
Images courtesy of FDOT.