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Tampa City Council questions FDOT officials about Tampa Bay Express

Published Oct. 13, 2016

TAMPA — Tampa City Council members want to know the full economic impact of Tampa Bay Express, the $6 billion road project that will add tolls to the area's interstates.

The Florida Department of Transportation updated the council Thursday on the status of the massive road project, known as TBX, including potential community enhancements the state hopes to make once TBX is finished.

Program management administrator Ed McKinney talked about shuffleboard courts, soccer fields, murals and extra lighting. When he finished, Council member Mike Suarez asked about the economic impact of the controversial project. DOT hasn't yet studied that, but agreed to do so. Such a study would take about six months and probably won't start until January, McKinnon said.

With no economic information to discuss, council members shifted their attention to other questions about the project. Suarez asked the state to study whether the toll lanes could be elevated, as with the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. Council member Harry Cohen pressed for more details about what the reconstructed Howard Frankland Bridge would look like. Council member Charlie Miranda encouraged the state to do a better job educating politicians and the public about the plan.

"The message we're sending is so convoluted," Miranda said. "I don't think anybody has any idea what's going on."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401. Follow @cljohnst.