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On eve of vote, economic analysis says TBX would bring 7,000 jobs, $6 billion total economic impact

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

No doubt timed for maximum impact, an economic analysis performed by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council reports that the Tampa Bay Express project will generate an estimated 6,998 direct and indirect jobs and $5.8 billion in total economic impact during its six years of highway-related construction.

The analysis was done for the Tampa Bay Partnership, which strongly supports TBX, the controversial billion-dollar-plus project from the Florida Dept. of Transportation with a first phase that includes building toll lanes on I-275 in Tampa.

The analysis also arrives just over 24 hours before the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization will vote on whether to include the TBX in the MPO’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).

The analysis is extremely shy of details. The TRBPC says that the Partnership provided them with a construction cost schedule and requested an analysis of its economic impacts of the first phase of the Tampa Bay Express, on I-275 South of Gandy Road, across the Bay to Bearss Avenue, and on I-4 from the downtown Tampa interchange toward Plant City. It utilized the REMI Policy Insight model, customized to Tampa Bay, and captures direct and indirect jobs and spending through its analysis of the multiplier effect.

The study estimated the multiyear economic outcomes generated by $3.3 billion of construction improvements along and around I-275 and I-4, from the Gateway area of Pinellas County to the University of South Florida area of Hillsborough County, and between Downtown Tampa and Plant City.

It says that there would 4,222 total jobs created during the years 2017-2019, and 2,272 from 2020-2022, for a total of 3,247 jobs.

Under “Total employment,” the report says there would be 9,556 jobs created in 2017, 9,512 in 2018, 9,250 in 2019, 4,970 in 2020, 4,530 in 2021 and 4,169 in 2022, for a total of 6,098 jobs.

“Besides helping to solve our critical transportation challenges, TBX is a major job generator,” said Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership. “And these construction-related jobs are good, high-paying positions that create economic opportunity for our residents.”

“It’s unfortunate that the only potential economic impact being measured is a one-time construction project based number,” said Michelle Cookson, a member of the group Sunshine Citizens, which opposes the TBX. “The amount of potential economic growth from Transit Oriented Development far out numbers this. In other metros around the nation, transit projects generates multimillions up to billions just in associated growth — prior to the systems even being built. Additionally, the city generated around $8 billion in one year in job starts just on their own — is this the best a project this size can generate?”

Cookson also said that Charlotte, Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Minneapolis all have invested in rail and transit and seen immediate investment based on the financial commitment that FDOT has in the TBX.

The Hillsborough MPO meets Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the County Center, 601 East Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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