Issue: 4   


Newsletter of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

March 2012   


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Veteran's Widening Starts This Fall

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), a part of the Florida Department of Transportation, will widen fourteen miles of the Veterans Expressway (SR 589) from four to eight lanes.  Construction will take three years to complete and is set to begin in the fall of 2012.  Concurrent with this project, FTE plans to convert the Veterans Expressway to a cashless toll collection system called All-Electronic Tolling (AET).

What will AET do for you?  You will no longer have to slow down at tolling points, wait in line, or search for change.  As an added benefit, AET decreases air pollution and fuel consumption. The conversion to AET requires the demolition of all ramp toll plazas and  replacement with an overhead gantry.  The widening of the roadway, coupled with the implementation of AET, will result in the doubling of roadway capacity and improved motorist safety.

All Electronic Tolling Gantry  

The first construction segment is between Memorial Highway (Exit 3) and Gunn Highway (Exit 10), and includes the replacement of the Anderson Toll Plaza and realignment of the Anderson Road ramps.  FTE plans to add special aesthetic treatments displaying a military theme for retaining walls built along the expressway as a tribute to the veterans of this country for whom this roadway is named.


Later in 2014, construction will begin to widen the segment between Gunn Highway (Exit 10) and Van Dyke Road (Exit 14).  The toll plaza at Sugarwood will be replaced with an AET gantry.   The total cost of the construction and AET projects is $330.8 million.
For more information, please contact Alice Gilmartin at 407-264-3826 or

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Comments Sought on US 301 Widening in Thonotosassa

With construction beginning summer of 2013 and scheduled to last 2 years, FDOT will widen US 301 from South of the Tampa Bypass Canal to Fowler Avenue. Widening US 301 to 4-lanes will include raised medians; sidewalks, bicycle lanes and lighting on both sides of the roadway; and a new bridge over the bypass canal.   The bridge will be constructed with a five foot sidewalk on one side with a 12 foot multi-use path on the other. Construction of the bridge over the bypass canal will accommodate adequate clearance for the future Bypass Canal Trail to pass underneath.


As the design for the roadway improvements is now being finalized, FDOT held a Public Information Meeting on February 28th to provide information to the public and receive comments on the project. Comments submitted by March 9th will be included as part of the Public Information Meeting record. Comments can be submitted to the FDOT project manager, Diana P. Ramirez, E.I., at:

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Congestion Management Report

MPO logo

When driving around Hillsborough County, it quickly becomes obvious that congestion is an issue facing our community.  Now, factor in our on-going population growth, high crash rates, limited alternatives to travel by car, and the looming reality of inadequate funds to maintain the roads, bridges and bus system we have today, and traffic becomes an even greater challenge.  To address how people will get around now and in the future, the MPO's recent Congestion Management/ Crash Mitigation Process (CM/CMP) update focuses on three realistic goals:
  • Improve the reliability of travel time - We may have to accept that certain roads will be congested at certain times of the day.  To some extent, a driver can plan for that.  But a crash or stalled vehicle can double the delay unexpectedly, and ruin your plans.
  • Shift trips to modes other than driving alone  - There is a nearly-untapped niche market for walking, cycling and transit.  According to FHWA, 40% of trips are within two miles of home.  With a few tweaks on our streets - like safer crosswalks, streetlights, covered bus stops and traffic signal priority for buses - these will become more desirable choices.
  • Reduce peak-hour impacts  - Make the best use out of the crowded right-of-way at peak hour through operational adjustments along road segments or at intersections.
The CM/CMP update looks at current data to see how our system performs with respect to these goals.  In some areas we have seen success over the years, like the increase in the number of vanpools and carpools, a reduction in how much time it takes to clear a crash off of the highway, and an increase in the number of people who bicycle and walk.  Yet, there are other measures pointing to the need to take a different approach - our congestion has greatly increased, the level of service on our roads has declined, and public transit does not reach enough of our county's residents and jobs.

This report helps the MPO focus on the most effective projects and strategies for the Long Range Transportation Plan in order to get the biggest bang for the buck.  Creative use of lanes, crash reduction techniques, smart traffic signals and other strategies will give residents and visitors more choices for getting around our diverse and exciting community.

For information on the MPO's Congestion Management/ Crash Mitigation Process, please visit the Congestion & Crash Reduction section of our web site, or contact Gena Torres at 813-273-3774 x357 or:

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Dale Mabry Improvements 2011/12

In 2011, the Florida Department of Transportation was able to fill gaps in the sidewalks along Dale Mabry Highway in the Northdale area.  Sidewalk improvements which began construction in August 2011 have been completed on the east side of the highway between Zambito and Hoedt roads and on the west side between Northdale Boulevard and Northgreen Avenue.

This year, improvements in the West Tampa area are under design.  A three-mile project from Kennedy Boulevard to Hillsborough Avenue is expected to begin construction in late 2012 to include repairs to pavement, plus the addition of new traffic signals and bike lanes.  For more information on this project please contact Shirley McCrary at 800-226-7220 or

Also in the works are improvements to the intersection of Dale Mabry and Humphrey Street.  Hillsborough County plans the addition of left and right turn lanes for eastbound and westbound drivers on Humphrey, along with improvements to sidewalks, bicycle facilities and the traffic signal. For more information, please visit Hillsborough County's project web site.

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Fletcher Ave "Complete Street"

TIP logo

Recognized as one of the most dangerous corridors for pedestrians in Hillsborough County, Fletcher Avenue is ready for construction to provide a safer walking and cycling environment is set to begin later this year. The MPO recently amended the Transportation Improvement Program to include additional funding from the Federal Highway Safety Program and local funds committed by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, fully funding the project for construction.


In addition to installing new lighting, repairing sidewalks and adding new bicycle lanes, this project will convert the corridor and improve safety by placing a greater emphasis on walking and cycling over the automobile.  


Six mid-block pedestrian crossings will be constructed between Nebraska Avenue and 30th Street. Equipped with overhead warning beacons, raised concrete islands and an off-set crosswalk, these new crossings will increase the visibility and safety of pedestrians and bicyclists crossing Fletcher Avenue. Coordination with HART transit routes, enhanced lighting and other features will round out the safety improvements planned for this corridor.


For more information, contact Mike Flick with Hillsborough County at 813-307-1881 or:

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I-275 Intelligent Transportation


Fall 2012 is the estimated completion date for the Florida Department of Transportation's widening of I-275 from just north of Bearss Avenue to Interstate 75. This will include adding one lane in each direction -- making that stretch of highway a six-lane roadway (three in each direction) to line up with the existing six lanes to the south. The new lanes will be built in the median.


The project will add Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components to the corridor to assist with traffic management. The devices to be installed include 5 cameras, 20 microwave vehicle detectors, fiber optic cable, and one Dynamic Message Sign to relay important traffic information to drivers. Just to the south, the exit ramp to Fowler Avenue in the northbound direction is being widened as well.


For more information, contact John McShaffrey at 813-233-383 or

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Columbus Drive Bridge Construction

Hillsborough County has started work on the re-building of the 85-year-old Columbus Drive Bridge in Central Tampa. The swing bridge carries traffic over the Hillsborough River, connecting West Tampa and Tampa Heights.


A complete rehabilitation of the Bridge is required as it has outlived its normal useful life span and needs to be upgraded to current standards. The major repairs include the reconditioning/replacement of mechanical bridge elements, replacement of the electrical bridge control system, replacement of the bridge roadway deck grating, structural concrete and steel repairs, painting of the bridge structure, and tender house reconstruction.

The project will proceed in two phases:
  • Phase 1 (which started in May 2011) - one lane will be intermittently closed for approximately six months of the project on the south of the bridge.
  • Phase 2 - in November, the bridge closed entirely for 90 days to allow the contractor to open the drawbridge and perform replacement work on its components.
The full project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2012. When the work is completed, the Bridge will be restored to its original functionality and historical appearance.

For more information, please visit Hillsborough County's project website.

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TIA Announces New USO Center

The first chartered USO center approved in nearly 10 years will be built at Tampa International Airport. The center will be designed and built as part of the airport's $20 million Main Terminal Modernization project already underway. The 1,100-square-foot space should be completed by July 1, 2012.


It has the potential to serve over 300,000 actively serving military and their family members coming through the airport, according to the USO Tampa Bay, Inc. MacDill Air Force Base, located just south of TPA, is home to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and the 6th Air Mobility Wing. "Tampa is a city that celebrates and honors our military families. This is one more  example," said the Tampa's Mayor Buckhorn, who sits on the Aviation Authority's Board of Directors.


On January 18th, the USO Board of Governors voted to approve the new USO Tampa Bay, Inc. center, thanks to the hard work of a team of volunteers from the Tampa Bay community.  For information on how to support the project, go to:

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Tampa Port Modernizations Planned

Tampa Port Authority

The Tampa Port Authority is pleased to announce that it has received $22.5 million in state funds toward the modernization and expansion of its primary petroleum terminal complex.


The Governor's announcement of this award on February 9 represents a major strategic investment in the petroleum terminal infrastructure at the Port of Tampa. The Port of Tampa is the energy gateway for all of west central Florida, serving almost nine million people. All of the automobile gasoline and aviation jet fuel for the region's airports (including Tampa and Orlando) moves through this port.  


The petroleum complex refurbishment, estimated to cost $45 million, is comprised of three berths and manifolds, pipelines and related facilities to handle a diverse range of critical petroleum and liquid bulk products into west central Florida. The project is expected to generate more than 800 construction jobs and also to ensure the protection of almost 2,500 direct and indirect jobs.  


This project is ready to commence and is expected to be completed within 24 -30 months. When expansion and modernization is completed, the facility will be able to handle more than 70 million barrels of fuel annually.  (press release quoted from

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Hillsborough Ave Resurfacing in Orient Park, Town & Country

The Florida Department of Transportation District 7 is designing improvements to Hillsborough Ave (SR 600) from North 56th Street to Orient Road and from Orient Road to West of US 301. Improvements to both project sections include resurfacing, sidewalk construction, replacing signing and pavement markings and improving drainage as well as upgrading pedestrian features from Orient Rd to West of US 301. Construction is expected to begin in October 2012. For more information on this project please contact Michael MacKinnon at 800-226-7220 or

Improvements to Hillsborough Ave are also planned from east of Benjamin Rd to east of Westshore Blvd.  This will include resurfacing the six-lane divided roadway, extending the existing sidewalks and minor drainage improvements. For more information on this project please contact Ashley Henzel at 800-226-7220 or

In This Issue
Veteran's Expressway
US 301 Widening in 2013
Congestion Management
Dale Mabry 2011/12
Fletcher Complete Streets
I-275 ITS Improvements
Columbus Drive Bridge
New USO Center For TIA
Modernizing Tampa's Port
Hillsborough Ave Resurfacing




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