Toll road project may cost some in St. Pete their homes

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Many would love to be able to get from St. Pete to Tampa, during rush hour, without bumper-to-bumper traffic, but what if the tradeoff for a smooth commute would cost you your home?

For TC Miller, he'll take the traffic. His home is one of 16 in the Meadowlawn neighborhood that could be bulldozed to make way for a project that would bring toll express lanes to Interstate 275, stretching from the Tampa side of the Howard Frankland Bridge to the I-175 interchange, next to Tropicana Field in south St. Petersburg.

The land would be used by the Florida Department of Transportation to meet environmental requirements for the project.

"Unfortunately, we need ponds for water treatment," Kirk Bogen, an engineer with FDOT told FOX 13.

Bogen hopes his agency will be able to find another way to get the job done without taking people's homes, but it won't be easy.

Miller, meanwhile, bought his home in 1977 and it's now paid off. He said the memories aren't worth any amount of cash he could be offered for the property.

"It's special to us now because that's where my kids and grandkids have grown," Miller said. "We've heard of eminent domain, and they don't care."

The $390 million project runs in three segments, one of which will include continuity improvements on I-275 between St. Pete and the Skyway Bridge, with the goal of reducing the number of lanes drivers have to cross to get to their exits.

Bogen said the plan also calls for the addition of more noise barriers.

"The Tampa Bay area is a growing region," he said. "We have people that are moving into this region daily. We need to be prepared for the growth that's going to happen in the region."

The project is in the study phase right now and could be approved early next year.