FL DOT offers cash for carpooling - WFLA News Channel 8

FL DOT offers cash for carpooling

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Florida Department of Transportation officials say they have money to give away, but have few takers. The only catch, they say, is you have to agree to carpool regularly and keep a record of it.

You may have seen the billboards while you're stuck in traffic. It's called Startup 275 and the department is offering Visa gift cards to Tampa Bay commuters who carpool at least 12 times each month down a congested stretch of Interstate 275.

"We want to reduce congestion in our construction area along 275 from the Howard Frankland Bridge to the Hillsborough River, but at the same time, we also want to encourage carpooling," explained FL DOT Spokeswoman Kristen Carson.

Carson says a major construction project, that's not scheduled to wrap up for four more years, is the culprit for most of the brake lights.

"It's bumper to bumper traffic 24/7," said Tampa driver Shiela Griffin.  "I don't care what day it is, every day of the week."

Carson said crews are reconstructing much of I-275 to widen it.  During the construction, some of the exits are closing or changing. 

To qualify for the carpool program, you have to carpool through the construction zone and log your miles. The first 500 carpoolers to sign up each month will get the gift cards.

"It's a very easy system," explain Carson. "We'll pay everybody in your car $25 a month.  It's a Visa gift card that can go towards whatever you want."

Carpoolers who register for Startup 275 can also enter a contest for $10,000. A local radio station is offering the cash for the team who comes up with the best entrepreneurial idea on their way to and from work. 

"97X is going to give away $10,000 to a group that can think of an amazing idea, startup company, something very innovative," explained Carson.  "It can be anything you want, as long as it's within our contest rules."

You can find those rules on Startup275.com

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