Universal Studios does it at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Now the Florida Department of Transportation is looking to do it on Interstate 275.
Pay extra and switch to the faster line — or, on I-275, the faster lane.
And both are doing it for the money, though for the state, reducing congestion is a big goal, too.
But in Tampa neighborhoods close to I-275, the idea is winning little support among residents who oppose the FDOT's Tampa Bay Express. That's a planned, but not-yet-funded, $3.3 billion project to smooth traffic on Hillsborough and Pinellas interstates by creating an express lane in each direction and charging cars (no trucks) an electronic toll to use it....
The decor in Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's private conference room is a mosaic of glimpses into Tampa life, culture and history.
There's a Ferdie Pacheco painting of cigar workers listening to a lector, sports memorabilia of the city's college and profesional teams, photos of city bridges lit up at night and a big wooden carving of the city seal that serves as a backdrop for events and photos....
07/02/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Sulphur Springs has an old community center with space available and more than its share of teenagers who have had scrapes with the law.
Soon, the first could help the second.
Hope Street of Tampa, a nonprofit group based at the big and suburban Idlewild Baptist Church, recently received city approval to bring a multipart program for at-risk youth to the George Bartholomew North Tampa Community Center....
07/02/15 Local Government
TAMPA — The city of Tampa will receive $27.4 million — less than half of what it wanted — in a settlement of its claims with oil giant BP over lost taxes and other economic damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
It is the most any Florida city will receive from the BP settlement, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Thursday.
"We got that because we led on this issue," Buckhorn said. "There were conventions that were canceled. There were visitors who didn't come. There were hotels that were left unfilled. … Those economic damages were very, very real."...
06/30/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — A series of real estate deals is raising eyebrows at City Hall.
On June 16, the Intown/Framework Group — a partnership between Tampa developers Phillip A. Smith and Greg Minder — paid the city of Tampa $660,000, the appraised price, for about 1½ acres in Ybor City. Their proposed project: apartments.
They also paid $970,000 to the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg for a neighboring parcel....
06/30/15 Human Interest
TAMPA — Just in time for the Fourth of July, three new boat slips and a launch for kayaks, canoes and paddle boards have opened at Water Works Park.
"A long time coming," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said of the slips, which required more work on permitting than the city originally counted on. The park, at 1710 N Highland Ave., opened in August at a cost of $7.4 million. City Hall did not get the last of the permits it needed for the slips until April....
06/30/15 Local Government
TAMPA — How many potholes does Tampa fill per month? How many miles of drainage ditches does it clean? How long does it take Tampa Fire Rescue to arrive at a fire? Or for the water department to answer your phone call?
TAMPA — Did Mayor Bob Buckhorn's decision not to support Charlie Crist for governor lead him to make it harder for a City Council aide to work for the Crist campaign?
Council Chairman Frank Reddick thinks so, and he said so at Thursday's council meeting.
"This whole thing is political," Reddick said of a bureaucratic tug-of-war over who had the authority to set the circumstances in which legislative aide Lorena Hardwick worked for the Crist campaign....
06/25/15 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council took the first step Thursday toward repealing part of its controversial bans on panhanding.
Council members voted 6-1 to repeal the city's ban on soliciting in the right of way and an accompanying exemption that allowed newspaper vendors to work the streets seven days a week. A second and final vote will take place July 16.
Chairman Frank Reddick cast the sole vote against repeal....
06/24/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — A Miami luxury apartment developer has taken a step toward trying to build what city officials believe will be a riverfront residential complex on what is now the headquarters of the Tampa Tribune.
The Related Group filed a request with the city of Tampa on Wednesday asking whether removing the Tribune building site from a larger rezoning from 1999 would be a substantial change to the property's approved development plan....
TAMPA — A plan to add express toll lanes to Interstate 275 found few friends Tuesday night among Seminole Heights residents who said state transportation officials are focusing on commuters when they should be focused on communities.
"This project has been developed by the Florida Department of Roads, not the Florida Department of Transportation," Seminole Heights civic activist and business owner Kimberly Overman told DOT officials during a standing-room-only meeting at the Seminole Heights Branch Library....
06/19/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — It looks like the rebirth of the historic S.H. Kress & Co. building will take awhile longer.
The dream has been around for at least a decade, and it appeared it was about to come true last fall when a development team filed plans with City Hall to incorporate the grand old department store into a 22-story tower with a hotel, apartments and more.
But Kress owner Jeannette Jason said this week that she no longer has a contract to sell the four-story building on N Franklin Street to Walson Ventures, a partnership between Tampa developers Alex Walter and Casey Ellison. The contract hasn't been in place since December because of issues on her end of the transaction, she said....
06/18/15 Local Government
TAMPA — For the second straight year, City Hall is looking to adopt a budget that doesn't dip into the city's rainy day fund, but it's not going to be easy, officials said Thursday.
Yes, property tax revenues are expected to grow, thanks to a projected 8.3 percent increase in city property values.
But personnel costs are on the rise, too — mainly because of 3.5 percent pay raises negotiated with the city's three unions in 2013 and increases in health care costs, which are projected to average 9 to 10 percent....
Here's another sign — not that anyone needed it — that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is open to raising his statewide profile: On June 26, he heads to Tallahassee for an appearance before the Capital Tiger Bay Club. Buckhorn, a second-term mayor, is seen as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2018....
In a sign of solidarity, the City Council has displayed a blue Tampa Bay Lightning rally flag during the team's pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
But Thursday morning, the flag was gone, replaced by a display of Chicago Blackhawks red on the council dais.