National report recommends leveling portions of I-275 in Tampa

tampa highway
The report recommends removing bad highways to reconnect communities and strengthen transit..

Interstate 275 is ranked as one of the United States’ worst highways in a new national report by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).

The report recommends removing bad highways to reconnect communities and strengthen transit.

The highways chosen in the Freeways Without Futures report represent spans of highway that have had negative impacts on neighborhoods and local businesses by bifurcating communities. It’s the “wrong side of the tracks” sort of effect.

Removing them, the report’s authors say, offers a chance to correct decades of community division and restore vibrant public life to waterfronts, local streets and downtowns.

The 2019 edition of the biennial Freeways Without Futures report, issued this week, also highlights a local initiative called #blvdtampa, which seeks to bring attention to alternatives to widening the highway. That initiative focuses largely on the span of I-275 north of downtown Tampa that dramatically divided the city’s neighborhoods when it was built in the 1960s.

The #blvdtampa project offers solutions to traditional highways including pedestrian-centered boulevards, streetcar networks, green space and commercial and residential transit-oriented development.

The initiative is the brainchild of urban designer Josh Frank who during the controversial Tampa Bay Express process that was eventually canceled, introduced a boulevard concept for the busy span of interstate that would bring vehicular transportation to street level and provide dedicated transit corridors and pedestrian friendly access.

His concept was included among several others in the Tampa Bay Next process through the Florida Department of Transportation’s reboot after TBX. Though it was heralded as a great idea by transit supporters, the concept has struggled to gain momentum.

But the economic benefits of #blvdtampa’s proposal are substantial, according to the report. Estimates to rebuild I-275 range from $3 to $9 billion, far more than constructing a street-level transportation corridor. Removing the highway would make available more than 35 acres of land for development, which would have a huge impact on local government as new properties entered the city and county’s tax rolls.

The CNU report is the sixth of its kind since 2008. The latest information comes as the idea of removing highways is becoming increasingly popular. Throughout the U.S., at least 17 cities have either committed to or already began replacing or mitigating major freeways since the late 1980s, according to the report. That includes San Francisco, Milwaukee and New York where cities managed to level highways without any reported adverse impacts on traffic.

“Local, state, and federal resources are declining,” said Lynn Richards, President and CEO of CNU. “We need to use investments that meet multiple community goals: enhancing all kinds of mobility, promoting economic development, creating jobs, and reimagining the possibilities for waterfronts, parks, and neighborhoods.”

Other highways listed in the report include I-10 in Louisiana, I-35 in Austin, I-345 in Dallas and I-5 in Portland. Kentucky, Colorado, New York and California also have highways that made the list.

CNU said it chose a jury of nationally recognized transportation experts to create this year’s ranking from a list of 29 nominated highways and freeways.

The panel reviewed each submission based on the age and state of the highway, the quality of alternative boulevard or street design, the feasibility of removal, community support for removal, existing political momentum, redevelopment opportunities, potential cost savings, and potential to improve access to opportunity for underserved communities.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Dennis

    April 4, 2019 at 7:34 am

    Pure folly. You need a highway system to move commercial vehicles and commuters. The way to truly fix the mess is lower the property taxes in Tampa so it can be affordable for the people who where forced to move to Pasco County. Giving people an incentive to live near where they work would lesson the need for bigger highways. Sadly no one in Tampa’s government or neither person running for mayor understand basic economics.

    • Tampa Resident

      April 4, 2019 at 8:23 am

      The property taxes in Tampa are some of the lowest Florida.

      And if I-275 is removed then everything just becomes I-4 and we still have an interstate system. Better year if we complete the loop in Pasco long distance drivers won’t have to drive through a congested city … Like every other place in the world.

  • Mamamelo

    April 4, 2019 at 8:55 am

    They need to leave tampa alone Ive been here for 30yr the only problem I see are the people coming from california and new york with that speacial way of thinking complaining about everything here, heres a solution leave back to your ruined high taxing crime over own cites

    • gary

      April 4, 2019 at 3:00 pm


      That battle is lost, Tampa is a liberal beacon of failure. Just like every city in America with Democrat leadership for more than 20 years! St.Pete is next on the chopping block, thank God north Pinellas voters save the county from St.Pete’s demise!

  • Davis

    April 4, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Too bad no one reviewed the photograph. A shot of the Selmon Expressway and the I-4 Connector ramp system. How can one take the author, article and publisher seriously if basic reporting oversight is completely lacking. The proposed plan to destroy critical transportation infrastructure and return to horse and and buggy trails seems out of touch with reality. I see this as an outsiders agenda, not a strong local initiative.

    • Bryan

      April 4, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      The picture is fine. It was just for effect and it worked. There was no “reporting oversight.” Janelle has been reporting and living in the Tampa area for years and she does it extremely well. How can anyone take your comment seriously if you don’t even know who she is or bother to read her profile at the bottom of the page?

  • Rick Fernandez

    April 4, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Sharon: What a fantastic display of teabagger ignorance and arrogance. Please do keep it up. Sunshine is the best antidote

  • gary

    April 4, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    100% agree

    This conversation is idiotic, to say the least! Is this not progress? Make peoples lives safer and less economically depressed?

    Removing these roadways would hinder economic growth and turn the cities into NY gridlock!

    What next? Do we get the NY City recently created CONGESTION TAX?

    Silly thoughts are silly!

  • Tim

    April 4, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Picture isn’t even 275. It’s the new Port ramps off I4. If they do anything start with light rail. Reduce the number of cars on the road.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    April 5, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Boulevards do not meet interstate standards. There would be a gap. Build their boulevard along parallel US 41.

  • FortyFo

    April 8, 2019 at 2:56 am

    Flying cars will be here soon. Turn the highway into solar farms and art. Seriously, I think the area here does pretty good. I’ve lived here for 15 years , previously of Detroit… yes, roads here are great! I hardly see grass growing across the intersections here….quite odd. You want to tackle a real problem, enforce driving etiquette….people here drive very badly without regard for others at all. Courteous, safe, attentive drivers make any road way better.

    • Sharon Calvert

      April 9, 2019 at 6:25 am

      Great idea!

Comments are closed.


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