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Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority gains independence, keeping toll dollars local

3:21 PM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- The money you pay to ride the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway will stay in Tampa Bay, ending years of takeover threats covered by the 10 News Investigators.

The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) sold $455 million in bonds Thursday, gaining independence from the state.

That means toll profits from the Selmon will remain in the community, helping to pay for both highway improvements and other community projects.

Over the past few years, legislators from other parts of the state unsuccessfully targeted the Expressway Authority's funds to help pay for projects elsewhere in Florida.

The bond sale means THEA could terminate its lease-purchase agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and confirm its absolute ownership of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and other assets, according to an agency press release.

"The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority is hitting the fast lane thanks to this historic action," said Stephen Diaco, Chairman of the Expressway Authority Board of Directors, in a release.  "Every cent collected by THEA remains in our community; that means more transportation investments and solutions for our customers." 

THEA indicates additional local road construction projects will also receive new funding now, including part of the I-4 Connector, which will provide a tolled link between I-4 and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. 

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