FDOT Secretary says it’s time to hit reset button on TBX project


Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold told a Senate Committee Tuesday that it’s time to hit the reset button on the controversial Tampa Bay Express Project.

“We have had some challenges with getting that project to a point where the local communities that are affected are pleased with where it is, and so we have the benefit of some time before we’re ready to move forward with that project,” Boxhold told the Senate Transportation Committee.

“We probably have 2-3 years before that project is what we call ‘production ready,’ ready to turn dirt,” he added. “And so we’re going to sort of hit the reset button, bring in additional staff or different staff to manage that project, and work more intensively with the local communities.”

Among those various staff members will be someone replacing Debbie Hunt, the director of transportation development for the Tampa Bay district who abruptly resigned last month from the Department.

As the DOT’s public face on the project, Hunt faced intense criticism from some members of the community who bonded together to oppose the project.

The TBX project is the biggest public works project in the history of the Tampa Bay area. The plan would ultimately remake I-275, I-4 and I-75, and bring new toll lanes from Pasco County south to Manatee County and from Pinellas County east to Polk County.

Critics contend that the plan would negatively impact a low-income and minority concentrated area of Tampa, who had little input on what was happening in their neighborhood. The Tampa Bay Times reported in June that 80 percent of the registered voters living at properties that Florida’s Department of Transportation plans to demolish are black and Latino.

Boxhold addressed that issue on Tuesday.

“Needless to say, there are minority communities that are affected,” he said. “Given the project’s magnitude, it’s important that we take the time to get it right.”

“We want a project that not only the department can be proud to build, be proud to put the Governor out there for a groundbreaking, that the local community is just as proud to join us for that groundbreaking,” Boxhold continued.

St. Petersburg Democrat Darryl Rouson said the public wants improvement to the transportation roadway system, but that “the community must feel like a respected part of what’s being done.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Boxhold said.

In June, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Organization voted to continue the toll roads project on pace by keeping it in its transportation improvement plan. It came after an eight-hour public hearing, where an estimated 500 people packed the county center chambers and an another floor to plead with the agency to kill the project.

But the business establishment in the Tampa Bay area is solidly behind TBX, led by the Tampa Bay Partnership, 

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


  • Maya Trotz

    December 13, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Great to hear this and I do hope they, we, Tampa get/s it right. Hope the communities of color have the resources to be meaningfully engaged and it’s not just to be on some advisory committee that does not pay them for their time. Hope USF faculty and students are widely consulted on solutions for our city and that the FDOT considers using the ENVISION rating system for guiding how they move forward.

    • Natalie

      December 16, 2016 at 6:23 am

      I think TBX sounds great! There are a lot of run down homes in Tampa and st pete that need to be torn down. Sounds like a win win!

Comments are closed.


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