Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Transportation agencies fight over bill for Selmon Expressway upgrades

TAMPA — Hillsborough County's Expressway Authority and state transportation officials have been fighting over an $84 million bill, which each side insists on paying.

But the more powerful Florida Department of Transportation has grabbed the check, saying it will pay to repair and widen the elevated portion of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway winding through downtown Tampa.

The problem for Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority?

The project costs will be tacked on to the authority's state tab, already expected to be $136 million next year. And that's more juice for state legislators, particularly in the Senate, who have been trying to disband the local agency and merge it with other toll agencies around the state.

Legislators cited toll agencies' state debt as a key reason for consolidation, expressway board chairman Stephen Diaco noted Wednesday.

"This debt will be used against us," he said.

Diaco called an emergency meeting Wednesday after state transportation officials and Gov. Rick Scott's office rejected the authority's financing plan for the project.

The complicated plan was to have been the authority's most ambitious effort to eliminate state subsidies of its capital projects.

The agency proposed issuing $221.5 million in bonds to cover not only the bridge deck replacement and widening but also to consolidate loans and pay for other Selmon Expressway projects now included in the state transportation budget.

Toll revenue would be used to pay off those bonds over the next 30 years.

But state transportation officials rejected the plan, saying it would cost Selmon Expressway drivers an extra $242 million in interest and borrowing. The debt to the state is interest-free.

"The department is not pushing for the consolidation," said district transportation secretary Don Skelton. "We're simply looking at the financial plan."

Authority executive director Joe Waggoner argued that drivers may pay more during a 30-year period but that his refinancing plan gives the authority a bigger cushion each year. That means if revenue is off one year, he said, there's less risk of a toll increase.

He said the plan would free up money the state had earmarked for the expressway other transportation projects.

But Skelton, who is a voting member of the expressway board, said the state didn't need the authority's permission to pursue and pay for the bridge deck project. In fact, the state already has accepted bids and expects to name its winner today.

So Waggoner presented board members Wednesday with this recommendation: agree to let the state Transportation Department go after the project but continue to lobby officials to reconsider its financing.

The board's majority made a political statement, rejecting the resolution in a 4-2 vote.

"My vote doesn't make any difference because they're going to do it anyhow," said vice chairman Donald Phillips.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a board member, voted for the resolution, but he predicted the agency continuing to pursue its own plan would not amount to much.

"I'm not interested in making political statements," he said. "I'm interested in getting a bridge deck built."

Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

Transportation agencies fight over bill for Selmon Expressway upgrades 08/31/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 11:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”