Business Leaders Advocate for Westshore Interchange
Forty-five of Tampa Bay’s most prominent business and community leaders are urging state legislators to restore the 2024 construction start date and associated funding for the Westshore Interchange. The $1.4 billion project to reconstruct the regional connection point has been postponed until 2026 due to COVID-19-related budget cuts.
The group of advocates includes Brian Auld (Tampa Bay Rays), Blake Casper (Caspers Company), Dan Doyle, Jr. (DEX Imaging), Richard Hume (Tech Data), Darryl Shaw (BluePearl Veterinary Partners), Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning), Ron Wanek (Ashley Furniture) and other respected executives.
In a letter sent to House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor), Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and Senate Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) on Monday, supporters noted the urgency to complete the project in parallel with the new span of the Howard Frankland Bridge, stressing the consequences of a delayed construction timeline, including “huge transportation delays” and “dangerous bottlenecks” that will “negatively impact commuters and commerce, including passenger and freight access to Tampa International Airport.”
They also cited the “collective and unprecedented support of business, government and nonprofit leaders and organizations from throughout the Tampa Bay region, who have identified [the Westshore Interchange] as our region’s most important transportation project.”
These individuals join a coalition of business and civic organizations already supporting the Westshore Interchange project, including: the Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa Bay Chamber, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation, North Tampa Bay Chamber, Tampa Innovation Partnership, Tampa Downtown Partnership, Westshore Alliance, St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber.
The groups united in 2019 to persuade Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to fund and schedule the project for a 2024 construction start date. They are currently asking the state to restore the original start date and funding in the Florida Department of Transportation’s 2024 work plan, when new state and/or federal funds become available.