Florida: The Future of Tampa in Infrastructure

Youth, innovation, and new infrastructure at the service of urban development

The warm winds of change are blowing in Tampa. Tampa does not abandon its Floridian lifestyle while there is movement all around like a busy construction site. The city that overlooks Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico serves as a vital hub in the United States on the west coast of Florida, opposite to Miami on Florida’s Atlantic coast, thinks as a modern city, and is building as a modern city. The airport, the port, hospitals, universities, sports centers, residences, logistics centers, and of course, roads and highways are alive with the signs of hard work: cranes are visible everywhere.

With almost half a million permanent residents according to the 2020 U.S. Census, Tampa is rapidly growing, and has transitioned from mid-century processing of tobacco from Cuba, to becoming a center of attraction for high tech, biomedical, and the innovative logistics services. This transition has led to a drastic reduction in the average age, as Tampa transforms from a place suitable for quiet retirement to a hustling and bustling tech center, capable of attracting talent.

Work and investments: that's the recipe for Tampa

Currently, Tampa’s average age is 36 years old and around the city, eight counties converge with a workforce that, according to the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council (EDC), approaches two million professionally trained individuals. The motto to attract young professionals in every field is not one of those used by other major metropolises. No fanfare, simply word of mouth, but according to extremely effective numbers: “Tampa is hiring!

“Why Tampa? Why NOT Tampa?” In the last five years, Tampa’s skyline has changed, there are now 34 buildings over 250 feet (76 m) tall, with the tallest being the Regions Building, measuring 579 feet (176m), followed by the Bank of America Plaza just two feet shorter. The region is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States, slowed down only by COVID. From 2021 to 2022, the population of Tampa and its surrounding counties rose from 3.1 to 3.2 million residents.

Infrastructure serving urban development

To support the recent growth in Tampa, the most important investment is in infrastructure dedicated to mobility and access. Among these, efforts are focused on the I-275 corridor, with work underway on the new Howard Frankland Bridge that carries Interstate 275 across Tampa Bay to the St. Petersburg area, and the Gateway Express project in heavily populated Pinellas County, which will create two new elevated roads with four lanes each. This latter project has two components: the construction of the Gateway Expressway, which will provide fast connections from US 19 to I-275 and from the Bayside Bridge to I-275; and the widening of I-275 to create express toll lanes (one lane in each direction) from south of Gandy Boulevard to 4th Street North.

An infrastructure network that also sees the involvement of the The Lane Construction Corporation (Webuild Group), that is tasked with reconstructing critical interchanges, including I-275 / I-4 Downtown Tampa Interchange, and the Westshore Interchange Project. The Westshore district is the largest central business district in the state of Florida with 4,000 businesses located there. The Westshore project involves the complete reconstruction of the interchange with 43 new bridges and new ramps to improve mobility along the I-275 corridor from the Howard Frankland Bridge to downtown Tampa and north on State Road 60 extending to State Road 589 (Veterans Expressway). Also included in this project is improved access to the Tampa International Airport.

Lane has played a vital role in improving Florida’s mobility and was recently awarded a new contract in early March by the Florida Department of Transportation. The contract, worth $299 million, involves the expansion of the Seminole Expressway/SR 417, an evacuation route in case of hurricanes and an important part of the eastern beltway around Orlando. The improvements to this strategic corridor, commissioned by the Turnpike Enterprise (FDOT), expands six miles of the Seminole Expressway/SR 417 from four lanes to eight travel lanes – adding two new lanes in each direction – from the Orange County line north of SR 434.

Mega projects for a city in motion

The port of Tampa, one of the largest buildable areas in Florida, is expanding to accommodate increased cargo traffic. Last year, the port processed 33 million tons, with a diversified mix of containers and bulk products. At the same time, Tampa International Airport will begin construction of a new terminal, Airside D, which will be the fifth terminal at the airport. This will be completed in three years, and will close out an expansion project started in 2011. All of these improvements to the airport will support the increase in air travel, which is expected to rise from the current 23.5 million to 39 million travelers by the end of 2027.

In addition to the port and airport, the entire city is at the center of important redevelopment and revitalization projects. Among these, the connection of an entire area near the old Ybor City, the tobacco town that gave birth to Tampa, with the emerging area of the Channelside District. The project, known as Gas Worx, involves the construction of a series of residential buildings, shopping centers, and offices. A complex that follows the construction of the new Water Street neighborhood, the first phase of development of which was completed in the fall of 2022 with the opening of the luxury hotel Tampa Edition. Since then, the massive redevelopment that has transformed an industrial area in the heart of the Channelside District into a luxury community has continued to attract residents, restaurants, and shops.