Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Opponents of bridge over I-75 in New Tampa dealt setback

TAMPA — A planned bridge over Interstate 75 in New Tampa can move ahead in spite of environmental concerns, a hearing officer has recommended.

The Hillsborough County Commission, acting as the Environmental Protection Commission, will decide whether to give the wetlands permit final approval on April 15.

West Meadows poet Evelyn Romano, represented by Tampa Palms lawyer Warren Dixon, had challenged the permit. They say circumstances have changed since the city applied for it in 2005. For example: Bartels Middle School now serves children on the east side of the highway, making it unnecessary to bus them to Liberty Middle School.

The bridge would link New Tampa Boulevard to Commerce Park Boulevard, which feeds Tampa Palms Boulevard.

While Romano had argued that the bridge would interfere with her enjoyment of the wetlands, hearing officer John Voelpel ruled that she did not have standing. And he declined to consider traffic conditions more than a half-mile from the site, said Dixon, who argues that Voelpel should have considered ongoing improvements to area highways as well as Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

"We're saying you haven't needed this bridge for 20 years and you haven't looked at the other construction projects to determine whether you still need it," Dixon said. "If you don't need it, you can't take the wetlands. The law is very clear about that."

Andrew Zodrow, the EPC's attorney, said that while he questioned the need at first, "(The city) did demonstrate to us a sufficient need for the road in the community." And City Attorney Chip Fletcher said, "This permit is not about traffic. It's about the environmental impact."

While the EPC cannot reverse Voelpel's findings of fact, Dixon said, the board can send the matter back for more review.

The bridge was long planned as part of an east-west connector road that would lead to I-275. The cost led city officials to scuttle plans for the connector but not the bridge.

Since Dixon began his campaign more than a year ago, the city and county have tweaked their schedules so the bridge will not open while the middle section of Bruce B. Downs is being widened. That would have been a worst-case scenario for Tampa Palms, as drivers would have flocked to the bridge to avoid a construction bottleneck.

Staff writer Marlene Sokol can be reached at sokol@sptimes or (813) 909-4602.

Opponents of bridge over I-75 in New Tampa dealt setback 03/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  2. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  4. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  5. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.