Tampa area lawmakers have filed three appropriations project requests for the 2022 Legislative Session to provide nearly $30 million combined for infrastructure projects in the Ybor City, Channel District and East Tampa areas.
The projects would provide valuable transportation, pedestrian safety and corridor enhancements in areas connecting to Ybor City, where a new baseball stadium is proposed for the Tampa Bay Rays.
While none of the requests specifically mentions a potential baseball stadium, and each request stands on its own without a stadium, the Rays’ leadership are aware of the requests, which would support needed transportation improvements to the proposed sites.
“We are requesting state funds for badly needed connections between East Tampa, Channelside, Ybor City and downtown with a network of safe transportation options including new crosswalks, improved intersections and miles of sidewalks and bike lanes. With or without a new stadium, leveraging state and federal resources to invest in our infrastructure is crucial to help all our neighborhoods thrive and connect to thousands of new jobs and housing options,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor spokesman Adam Smith.
The largest request (HB 3601) from Rep. Dianne Hart would provide corridor improvements in East Tampa and Ybor City. It asks for more than $15.1 million in nonrecurring funds from the Florida Department of Transportation, most of which would be used to fund design, engineering, permitting, and construction on sidewalks, crosswalks, and signal enhancements to improve multimodal safety and accessibility, according to the affiliated appropriations request (1416).
Of the total request, more than $3 million would fund engineering, planning and design for landscape architecture and urban design.
“The corridors have been identified by the City of Tampa and FDOT as a critical corridor in need of safety improvements, specifically for pedestrians,” the request reads. “The corridors are within the East Tampa redevelopment Area and have been identified in the CRA’s Strategic Action Plan.”
The request notes the project would improve walkability and accessibility for persons with disabilities, as well as provide greater access to the interstate and several neighborhoods.
It also notes the project would attract new and small businesses and improve access to jobs, businesses, and major economic job centers, as well as enhanced access to Port Tampa Bay.
The second-largest request (HB 3773), filed by Rep. Jackie Toledo, would provide $10 million for Channel District and Ybor City corridors.
As a nonrecurring funding request from FDOT, most of the funds — more than $8 million — would pay for design, engineering, permitting and construction on sidewalks, crosswalks and corridor enhancements to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility.
The remaining more than $2 million would fund urban design, landscape architecture, planning and engineering design.
The project (Appropriations Request 1415) would also provide greater access to the TECO Streetcar and reduce emissions by increasing multimodal transportation options.
The third request (HB 3815), filed by Rep. Traci Koster, would provide $4.7 million for the city of Tampa’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to reduce all traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero.
The request seeks nonrecurring funding from FDOT. Of the total requested, nearly $3.8 million would fund design, engineering, permitting and construction for sidewalks, crosswalks, and improvements to the corridor. Just shy of $1 million would fund urban design, landscape architecture, planning and engineering design.
Sources tell Florida Politics another two similar appropriations project requests are also being filed.
The Tampa Bay Rays have long sought a Tampa Stadium, with an Ybor City site identified as the most likely to be successful. But the area faces infrastructure challenges, including on projects these requests seek to address.
Parking in Ybor City is limited, making connectivity, including through transit like the Streetcar connecting downtown Tampa, the Channel District and Ybor City, crucial in any eventual stadium project.