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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Measure that would limit local expressway authorities removed from Senate transportation bill



State senators removed wording from a transportation bill Thursday night that would have severely restricted local expressway authorities in Hillsborough and Orange counties.

The amendment in SB 1998 that was removed would have turned over toll collections from the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority to the state. It would also have eliminated the power the local authorities had to issue bonds, hampering local jurisdictions from choosing their own transportation projects.

Even though one of the bill's sponsors, JD Alexander, said the amendment would be discussed in a conference, Tampa Bay senators expressed relief that it was taken out of the bill – for now.

“If you take away our bonding authority, essentially we’re crippled,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

“I still have a lot of heartburn on this,” said Jim Norman, R-Tampa.

“I know you’re withdrawing it,” said Ronda Storms, R-Valrico. “But I want to say this. Local control is the best way to make decisions for your community.”

Storms said the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway was an example of  project that wouldn’t get done if the state intervened. It’s an example of the type of projects that get done with local control, and the type of projects that don’t get done if the authorities are controlled by the state.

“It’s the coolest thing,” she said.

-- Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:41pm]


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