Here you’ll find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about this important transportation project.
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What is the Tampa Bay Express (TBX)?
The Tampa Bay Express, or TBX, is a project of the Florida Department of Transportation. TBX will address road congestion throughout Tampa Bay by redesigning key interchanges, rebuilding the Howard Frankland bridge and adding dynamic toll lanes (or “express lanes”) to portions of I-275 and I-4.
Which specific projects are included, and where are they located?
A map of the projects can be found here.
What impact will TBX have on traffic congestion?
TBX will add dynamic toll express lanes with a minimum speed goal of 45 miles per hour. These managed lanes adjust the toll based on the level of congestion to ensure the most efficient flow of traffic possible. In Miami, FDOT reports show that these lanes have exceeded the minimum goal, with an average speed of 54 to 62 miles per hour. These express lanes have also alleviated congestion in the general purpose lanes, improving average speeds from 15-20 miles per hour to an average of 39-47 miles per hour. (Source)
What impact will TBX have on regional transit?
TBX’s express lanes provide an immediate opportunity for Express Bus Service. TBX also lays the foundation for future transit options by rebuilding the Howard Frankland Bridge with a foundation strong enough to support rail technologies, and a 44-ft transit corridor will be placed in the highway median to accommodate future transit options. TBX’s express lanes also provide a great opportunity for autonomous vehicles when that technology becomes available.
How long has the Tampa Bay community been planning for TBX?
The Tampa Bay Express project was originally conceived as a long-range transportation need in the 1990s. That long-range need is now immediate, and the plan has been updated to address current needs. The Hillsborough MPO vetted the plan and included it as a priority in its Long Range Transportation Plan in 2015.
How much will TBX cost?
The initial projects have a total cost of $3.3 billion. The TBX Master Plan, including the initial $3.3 billion, will have a total cost of $6 billion, not including right-of-way acquisition. In recent decades, FDOT has taken a piecemeal approach to solving congestion problems within the Tampa Bay region, and they have completed individual projects as funding has become available. TBX allows FDOT to address the full-scale problem of congestion in Tampa Bay by designing lane continuity and ensuring that roads function as a full transportation system.
Where is the money coming from?
The State of Florida and FDOT have committed $3.3 billion for the first phase of TBX.
I’ve heard some people say the state should take all the TBX money and put it into building light rail and other forms of transit that take people out of their cars. Can FDOT do this?
FDOT does invest in transit, but this money is specifically targeted to alleviate road congestion, in accordance with state and federal law. HART is currently administering a Premium Transit Feasibility Study, funded by FDOT, to determine the most cost-effective and efficient means of transit for the Tampa Bay region. However, FDOT and the federal government will only expend money on transit construction if local governments have a feasible plan for maintenance and operation of the system. To ensure a regional transit system in Tampa Bay, our local government officials must work together to develop a viable plan for maintaining and operating forward-thinking transit options. For example, TBX will rebuild the Howard Frankland bridge with a foundation strong enough to support rail. However, the Pinellas and Hillsborough local leaders must agree on a transit plan using a common platform for FDOT to feasibly construct the system connecting the two counties.
What will happen to businesses directly affected by the construction of TBX?
FDOT has tentatively identified 30+ businesses that are on land slated for right of way acquisition at the I-275/I-4 interchange, and they are reworking the design to minimize the impact as much as possible. FDOT will purchase the properties at or above market value, and they will compensate business owners according to the Relocation federal entitlement program. Details about FDOT’s process and about Relocation benefits can be found here.
What will happen to the residents directly affected by the construction of TBX?
FDOT has tentatively identified 100+ homes or apartments located on land slated for right of way acquisition at the I-275/I-4 interchange, and they are reworking the design to minimize the impact as much as possible. FDOT will purchase the homes at or above market value, and they will compensate renters and home owners according to the Relocation federal entitlement program. Details about FDOT’s process and about Relocation benefits can be found here.
FDOT has a specific program to preserve and restore historic buildings. FDOT established the Interstate Revolving Trust Fund that to-date has provided over $5 million in grants and low interest loans to 70 owners of historic buildings in West Tampa, Tampa Heights, and Ybor City to assist in rehabilitation.
What’s being done to minimize the impact of TBX on the surrounding neighborhoods?
The Florida Center for Community Design and Research at USF is working with FDOT and the neighborhoods most affected by TBX to develop mitigation plans for the communities. These design charrettes are set to wrap up in June, and FDOT will move forward with commitments to community design features.
What is the total direct and indirect economic impact of the TBX project in terms of construction jobs and spending?
According to the Federal Highway Administration, TBX will create 92,000 jobs and have an economic impact of $14.5 billion. (Source)
Is it possible for FDOT to do parts of the TBX project, but delay or cancel the reconstruction of the I-275/I-4 interchange?
No. TBX is one, coordinated project, and each piece of it connects to the rest of the project. If any component of TBX is withdrawn, delayed or cancelled, the effect is to cancel the entire project. For example, if the MPO decides to withdraw the Downtown Interchange (commonly referred to as Malfunction Junction), then it would not make sense for FDOT to build additional capacity on I-275 and I-4 coming in and out of this already bottle-necked interchange. For TBX to successfully reduce traffic congestion and provide a faster and more reliable commute, then all components must be included in the plan, including the Downtown Interchange for I-275/I-4.
What happens to the money that’s been committed to TBX if the project is delayed?
If the MPO votes to remove or delay any portion of TBX from its Transportation Improvement Plan, FDOT will spend the TBX money elsewhere in the state. Orlando and Jacksonville have road construction projects in the design/build phase, just waiting on funding from FDOT.
What happens to the money that’s been committed to TBX if the project is cancelled?
If the MPO votes to cancel any portion of TBX from its Transportation Improvement Plan, FDOT will spend the TBX money elsewhere in the state. Orlando and Jacksonville have road construction projects in the design/build phase, just waiting on funding from FDOT.
How long will it take to build TBX?
TBX is already in the PD&E (project development & environment) phase. Once construction begins, the TBX will take between 5-7 years to complete.
Will the construction of TBX cause even more congestion and inconvenience?
Road construction is never an easy enterprise, but FDOT is using new construction techniques and management approaches to lessen the impact on congestion. FDOT is working with HART to develop additional transit opportunities during construction to lessen the impact on congestion. Most of the construction is taking place in the median of the existing interstate, with the exception of the interchange construction.
How will TBX affect me?
TBX is likely to give you a faster, more reliable commute in the Tampa Bay region. If you’re running late for a flight at TIA, or you need to rush to daycare to pick up a sick child, you have the option of paying extra to use Express Lanes. If it’s a normal day for you, and you don’t want to spend extra money, you’ll enjoy increased speeds in the general purpose lanes because the Express Lanes attract drivers away from general purpose lanes and manage congestion. The express lanes also provide the possibility of Express Bus Service operated by HART and PSTA, allowing more options for regional commuters. Additionally, you’ll be less likely to end up in a bottle-neck situation once the Downtown and Westshore Interchanges are redesigned and rebuilt.
What are Express Toll Lanes?
Express Toll Lanes are lanes added to the existing interstate, where drivers can choose to pay extra to enjoy a faster commute.
How does dynamic pricing work?
Dynamic pricing in express lanes is a tool for managing congestion. The toll price changes throughout the day depending on the level of congestion in order to maintain a minimum speed of 45 mph. However, at each entrance to the express toll lanes, the price is clearly marked, and once a driver enters an express lane, the price does not change for that trip.
Have these dynamic pricing lanes been used in other parts of Florida, and other parts of the country? Do they work?
Yes, dynamic priced express lanes are used across the county, and they are operational in Florida. In Miami, FDOT reports show that these lanes have exceeded the minimum goal, with an average speed of 54 to 62 miles per hour. These express lanes have also alleviated congestion in the general purpose lanes, improving average speeds from 15-20 miles per hour to an average of 39-47 miles per hour. (Source)
What are Express Buses, and who will operate them?
TBX provides the opportunity for Express Buses, outfitted with comfortable seats and Wi-Fi, to use the express lanes free of charge. These buses could be operated by HART and PSTA for regional transit and can connect to their local bus services. School buses will also utilize express lanes free of charge.
Who is supporting TBX?
TBX is supported by leading business groups throughout the region, including:
Bay Area Apartment Association (BAAA), Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, Building and Office Management Association of Greater Tampa Bay (BOMA), Central Florida Development Council, Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce, Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors (FGCAR), Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, NAIOP, Pinellas Realtor Organization, Port Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa Downtown Partnership, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Tampa Innovation Alliance, Tampa International Airport and the Westshore Alliance.
Additionally, a variety of employers across Tampa Bay support TBX because of its positive impact on regional connectivity and workforce mobility.
What needs to happen for the TBX project to move forward? Who needs to vote on it?
While state funding for the first phase of TBX has already been identified, the project still faces a critical vote by the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Board of Directors on Wednesday, June 22.
How can I show my support for TBX?
To support TBX, visit our TAKE ACTION page to sign the online petition and contact the MPO via email. You can also show up in person to the Hillsborough County MPO board meeting on June 22 to voice your support.
Here are the meeting details:
Wednesday, June 22 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Hillsborough County Center, 2nd Floor – BOCC Chambers
601 E Kennedy Blvd
Tampa, FL 33602