Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced Thursday $1.4 billion for the reconstruction of the I-275/SR 60 Westshore Area Interchange in Tampa. The project is set to take place in fiscal year 2023-2024.
According to a statement from the Governor's Office, 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. Home to Tampa International Airport, two professional sports facilities and more than 4,000 businesses, Westshore is where commuter, cargo and tourism traffic 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.”
Said FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E., “Reconstruction of this major interchange will promote continued economic growth in an area home to Tampa International Airport and over 4,000 businesses.”
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. This project has been identified as the No. 1 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.
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.
“As a senator representing both sides of Tampa Bay, I frequently travel the I-275/SR 60 interchange,” said Democratic state Sen. 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.”
Rep. Jackie Toledo agreed. "I am happy and thankful Governor DeSantis has committed to fully funding the $1.4 billion Westshore Interchange project and sees the importance of the Westshore Interchange and the role it plays in Tampa Bay's economy,” she said. “With over 4,000 businesses, and as a vital artery in our area, funding this project will drastically improve our regional infrastructure and allow our community to handle both population and economic growth."
“The I-275 Westshore Interchange is the linchpin for sustained economic growth in Tampa Bay, said Forward Pinellas Executive Director Whit Blanton.” We thank the Governor, Legislature and the Florida Department of Transportation for their commitment to fund this important piece of our regional infrastructure. A rebuilt interchange will enable better regional movement between Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties, including improving traffic flow to Tampa International Airport, enhancing local accessibility in the Westshore area, and creating new opportunities for various modes and technologies.”
Said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, “The I-275/SR 60 Interchange project is a critical first step in my plan to transform Tampa’s transportation system. 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.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman echoed Castor's sentiments. "This is positive news for both sides of Tampa Bay,” he said. “While we must remain focused on alternative and mass transit, reconstructing this interchange will be a boom to commerce and make life easier for residents and visitors. The future of St. Pete and Tampa has never been brighter."
“The rapid passenger growth we’ve seen at Tampa International Airport has certainly made its impact on our roadways and surrounding district and we’ve been advocating for the construction of this interchange to improve traffic flow,” said Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “This is a wonderful development that will greatly increase airport access to and from the entire Tampa Bay region and we’re thankful to see it funded.”
“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.”