Scott announces state funding for Tampa airport expanions

TAMPA, Fla. - During his weekly visits to Tampa International Airport, Mike Esposito of St. Petersburg has noticed more traffic in the terminals than in past years.

"It definitely seems busier than it was just a few years back. It would be nice if it flowed a little better during times when there's a lot of congestion,” he said.

A $2.5 billion expansion project approved by the Hillsborough County Aviation Board last year is, in part, supposed to help alleviate that congestion. Plans include expanding the main terminal, building a consolidated rental car facility farther from the airport and a 1.3 mile new shuttle.

Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced $194 million in state funding for the project.

"It will create more revenue for both the airport and the region, and in addition to helping expand tourism industry, it will create 7,000 construction jobs," the governor said. Approximately 1,000 of those newly added jobs are expected to be permanent.

The state funding still has to be approved by the legislature. "I'm very confident that's going to happen," Scott said.

The $194 million in state funding is $78 million short of what airport officials requested of the state to help with the project.

"We'll probably have to take out more debt, more bonds, but we factored that into our plan, and we're flexible enough to do that," said TIA CEO Joe Lopano. "Construction will not be delayed. We are right on target."
Lopano said construction will begin at the end of 2014 and new design contracts will be awarded Thursday.

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