Speaking with FloridaPolitics.com last week, Democratic Senate District 18 candidate Bob Buesing said that he was maintaining an open mind regarding the Tampa Bay Express project, but said he wanted the Florida Department of Transportation to show more flexibility in working with the local neighborhoods in Tampa that will be directly affected by its implementation.
The controversial $3.3 billion toll lanes road project is up for a crucial vote before the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Organization next week.
While the business community is embracing the project, there is substantial opposition in the communities that will be affected by its construction, and the Tampa City Council last week (voting as the Community Redevelopment Agency) voted to call on the MPO to remove the project from its five-year priority list of projects.
Buesing’s objectivity on the issue was put into question when a photo sent to this reporter after the article’s publication showed an anti-TBX sign placed prominently in the front of his home.
So what’s the real deal?
“A friend gave my wife the TBX sign that was in our yard for a couple of weeks back in April. But we took it down shortly thereafter because I wanted more information. I still do,” Buesing said on Tuesday.
“The main objection is the impact on the Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights neighborhoods – an impact that could be reduced with a smarter design,” he added. “I want to know whether this project could feature an elevated design within the existing road corridor so that fewer or no homes and businesses would be taken. The Selmon Expressway is a prime example – very little additional land had to be taken and it vastly improved the flow of traffic. I also want to know whether sound barrier walls have been considered. I searched the plan, but did not see true sound barrier walls that might help protect the neighborhood from noise and pollution. We need to balance the need for improved transportation with the protection of historic neighborhoods. I am concerned about the current design of the section impacting those neighborhoods, but it’s a big project and we have to think of the whole county. We need to address the traffic issues and we don’t want to lose what funding there is. I hope that FDOT will re-think that section of road running through the historic neighborhoods, so that we can build a community consensus and better address our transportation needs.”
House District 60 Republican representative Dana Young is opposing Buesing in the SD 18 contest.
Sarah Bascom, a spokesperson for Young’s campaign, said, “Only weeks as a candidate for office, Bob Buesing is already running away from his liberal views. It sure didn’t take long for him to start flip-flopping.”
At a luncheon hosted by the Tampa Bay Partnership last month, Young said she supported the TBX proposal.