Florida has broken ground on a new connector that will offer a special toll road to connect the Port of Tampa's main access point directly with the Interstate Highway System.
The I-4 / Selmon Expressway Connector is shown in this computer-enhanced drawing running diagonally across the photo frame. Interstate 4 is to the right in the photo; the Selmon Expressway is to the upper left.
The I-4/Selmon Expressway Crosstown Connector will be a new north-south toll road connecting Interstate-4 with the Selmon Expressway west of 31st Street. The elevated roadway will provide exclusive truck lanes for direct access to the Port of Tampa. This will help remove heavy truck traffic from Tampa's historic Ybor City area.
The project is expected to be open in three years. It will use an all-electronic toll collection system that allows traffic to move at highway speeds instead of slowing or stopping for toll booths.
"We can build a world-class port and bring in cargo and containers in heavier volumes as the years go by, but without adequate traffic flow into and out of the port, it is just difficult to imagine handling much more truck traffic than the 11,000 truck moves on average we already see per day," said Richard Wainio, Tampa's port director and chief executive.
The project completion date in 2013 coincides with the planned completion of a major expansion of the Panama Canal, with the addition of a third set of locks that will enable pass-through of very large cargo ships and ensure cargo and container increases for the Port of Tampa when the expanded canal is in full operation in 2014.