1000 Friends of Florida has urged the Hillsborough MPO to reject proposed amendments to its Transportation Improvement Program related to the Tampa Bay Express proposal. Tampa Bay Express-also called TBX-is a Florida Department of Transportation plan to expand I-4, I-275 and I-75 throughout the Tampa Bay region by constructing new, tolled lanes. Although the project is centered in Hillsborough County, it stretches from Pinellas County to Polk County. The Hillsborough MPO will consider these amendments at its June 22, 2016 meeting.
1000 Friends opposes the project because it would require condemning properties in locally and nationally recognized historic neighborhoods, because it would facilitate sprawl development in surrounding counties and because it would not reduce traffic in the region.
"Data consistently show that expanding freeways does not lead to less traffic," explains 1000 Friends Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins. "While this outcome is counter-intuitive, when we expand highways, drivers make more frequent trips, drivers choose longer routes and households and businesses move to more distant locations. As a result, expanding highways actually increases traffic."
"We work to save Florida's special places and to build better communities," says 1000 Friends' President Ryan Smart. "The TBX project affects both of these goals. On one hand, widening freeways through the V. M. Ybor, Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights neighborhoods will harm these existing communities. On the other hand, extending express lanes towards Pasco County and into Polk County will spur the suburban sprawl that consumes rural land and increases the cost of providing services."
The Hillsborough MPO has proposed other transportation projects which would create new transportation options for Tampa Bay residents including a water ferry and rail transit. 1000 Friends supports continued planning for these other transportation solutions which would promote vitality and economic growth in Hillsborough County's existing urban areas.
1000 Friends of Florida, a statewide not-for-profit membership organization, was founded in 1986 to serve as "watchdog" over planning and growth issues in the third largest state in the nation. For more information, visit