Northwest Hillsborough Expressway
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The Northwest Hillsborough Expressway and its present-day counterpart, the East-West Road, in Tampa, Florida, have been the subject of heavy controversy since their beginnings in the 1980s. Most of the local opposition comes from the northern Hillsborough County community of Lutz, which has made many successful efforts (both in the past and present times) to halt construction of the highway through their neighborhoods.
Planning for the Northwest Hillsborough Beltway began in the 1960s/1970s as part of a multi-expressway/freeway system in Hillsborough County. Plans materialized gradually over the years, with very little backlash during the early stages. However, as northern Hillsborough County communities grew, so did opposition to the plans. The Lutz community went to great lengths to voice their opposition to the project, its efforts including an audio/video campaign composed of a song, a music video, as well as banners and stickers. They also lobbied Florida politicians in Tallahassee to stop the expressway from being built. The efforts succeeded and construction of the beltway was halted indefinitely.
By the mid 1980s, the Northwest Hillsborough Expressway was broken into two segments: the Lutz Expressway and what would be known later as the Veterans Expressway. Plans continued to be developed for the Veterans Expressway through the 1980s, with final completion set for 1994. The Lutz Expressway plan was not revived again for several years. But when it did, the same Lutz communities objected and succeeded.
The Veterans Expressway
See State Road 589
The East-West Road proposal today
To this day, a segment of the failed Lutz Expressway continues to be regularly revived. It is called the East-West Road and spearheaded by the City of Tampa. Florida's Turnpike Enterprise initially took on the plan but abandoned it after skyrocketing land acquisition prices and other financial burdens blocked their efforts. The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority also attempted to take on the project, even securing a private/public partnership, but their efforts have also largely failed. The highway faces additional criticism from environmental groups due to its proposed routing through sensitive wetlands.
There is also a bridge in the works, which would cross I-75. Even if the East-West Road fails completely, the bridge may still be built after the economy improves.
- Talk of east-west road revs up again St. Petersburg Times - July 30, 2006.