Dozens of Tampa Bay-area residents spoke out Saturday against a $6 billion project to add toll lanes and reduce congestion near the downtown interchange of Interstate 275.
Tampa Bay Express project "is a boondoggle. This entire project is the epitome of a boondoggle," Michelle Cookson said.
"You have something that's a tremendous amount of money and a waste of time, and people won't let go of that. They keep insisting it's the way to go. But when you examine this plan, it's a bad deal."
Area aesidents think the $3 billion should be spent on mass transit and safer bike and pedestrian lanes. They worry the construction will wipe out much of Tampa’s history.
“Homes, businesses, apartments, trees, churches — there will be a really devastating swatch of destruction and to no good end,” former council member and event organizer Linda Saul-Sena said.
Transportation officials said they are committed to working with the community to ensure they understand concerns but said the project is needed.
“The downtown interchange needs to be completely rebuilt to relieve local and regional congestion and to accommodate transit. Express lanes are an integral part of the system and will help reduce traffic congestion for everyone,” Florida Department of Transportation spokesman David Botello said.
Concerned citizens said they will host similar protests every month.
FDOT will host a community meeting about the project 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.