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Traffic Projections Missing from $6 Billion Tampa Bay Express Toll Road Plans
"State officials justify a $6 billion interstate project by making a bold claim: It will ease gridlock throughout the Tampa Bay area," according to an article by Craig Pittman.
The Florida Department of Transportation is making those big claims for the Tampa Bay Express, a $6 billion toll road that would add 90 miles of toll lanes to highways in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. But according to Pittman, project planners have yet to produce traffic volume projections for the proposal. Moreover, according to Pittman, looking at the track record of the statd in building toll roads, "the forecast is almost certain to show that TBX will make money and ease congestion," and, "It will also most likely be wrong."
To prove that simple claim, Pittman only need look to the name of one of the companies paid to generate traffic projections for the project: Aecom. Aecom recently acquired long-time traffic projections consultant URS. According to Pittman, both have a track record of inaccurately projecting future traffic volumes. Pittman reported the details of that spotted track record for a similar story earlier this year—that time with the setting of Citrus County and a project called the Suncoast Parkway.
According to Pittman, the faulty projections used to justify toll road projects are hardly unique to the state of Florida, or the group of consultants it relies on to produce these numbers. The in-depth coverage inspired by the Tampa Bay Express example also ranges to other states, and examines the political context that enables this project and others like it.