TAMPA — A long-planned toll road linking Interstate 4 to the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway could finally break ground thanks to federal economic stimulus money.
The Florida Department of Transportation has included the connector on a list of projects to be built with the state's $1.3 billion in federal transportation stimulus dollars. It would receive $104 million, one of the largest single allocations for any one project in the state, according to the list released Thursday.
Florida's list must still clear the state Legislative Budget Commission and the Federal Highway administration, but it is expected to do so.
"We're very hopeful these are the projects the district will get, said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the FDOT district for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
Final approval should come this spring, with work starting this year or early 2010, she said.
The connector is by far the largest project for the region, on a list that includes money to widen U.S. 41 in Pasco and several road repaving projects in Citrus and Hernando counties.
Pinellas is expected to receive almost $45 million in stimulus funds to help build new overpasses along U.S. 19 at Belleair Road and Seville Boulevard in Clearwater. The project also includes replacing the overpass at U.S. 19 and Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater.
The I-4/Crosstown connector has been nearly two decades in the planning. Along with making it easier and quicker to get between I-4 and the Crosstown, the roadway will take truck traffic out of the historic Ybor City shopping and entertainment district between them.
State officials estimate building the connector will create 12,000 jobs and spin off more in economic development at the Port of Tampa.
The overall project will cost about $450 million, Carson said. The stimulus money will get construction started with the state expecting to have the money to pay for the rest starting in 2013. The project start date had been delayed three years in large part due to declining gas taxes.
The connector will be a series of bridges that will run along the west side of 31st Street in east Ybor City. Currently, trucks to and from the port rumble up and down 21st and 22nd streets, two main drags through the district.
Staff writers Janet Zink and Aaron Sharockman contributed to this report.