Issue: 6     


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

October 2012   


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MPO receives APA Florida's Only Award of Excellence for 2035 Plan Post-Referendum Market Research 

At its September 13 2012 Conference Keynote & Project Awards Lunch, APA Florida presented the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) its only Award of Excellence. A winner in the Best Practices category for "Serving Up Transportation Choices Like Soft Drinks -The Role of Product Market Research in Planning," the MPO conducted marketing-style research as part of its post-referendum analysis of its 2035 Plan.  The project was judged based on its innovation, transfer-ability, quality, implementation and comprehensiveness.
2035 Post-Referendum Analysis
With a $20 billion shortfall in transportation funding and a countywide vote of 58 percent against a sales tax during the worst of the recession, the MPO is using a private sector technique to retool its long range plan. Focus groups with randomly selected registered voters, conducted by a market research firm behind mirrored glass, have told the MPO citizen preferences in their own words.

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Columbus Drive Bridge - Connecting Neighborhoods for 86 Years

On Friday, September 28, Hillsborough County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially reopening the rehabilitated Columbus Drive Bridge. Local leaders, including Hillsborough County Commissioners Les Miller and Kevin Beckner, State Representative Janet Cruz and Tampa City Council members Charlie Miranda and Mike Suarez, rededicated the iconic bridge that first united the West Tampa and Tampa Heights neighborhoods 86 years ago.


Columbus Drive Bridge ribbon-cutting  

Originally completed in 1926 at a cost of $420, 000, the Columbus Drive Bridge is one of two surviving bobtail swing bridges left in Florida. At 470 feet long and a swing span at 103 feet, the Columbus Drive Bridge still serves as a vital link between the West Tampa / Westshore areas and downtown Tampa. A complete rehabilitation of the Bridge was required, as it had outlived its normal useful life span and needed to be upgraded. The Bridge has been restored to its original function and historic appearance at a total cost of $8.75 million, $ 6.85 million of which came from the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax and $ 1.9 million from a Federal grant.


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Selmon Expressway traffic growth gets positive nod from Fitch

Fitch Ratings affirmed the A- investment grade rating on about $322.2 million of outstanding revenue bonds for the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.


The rating outlook is stable, a statement said.

The Selmon Expressway, the authority's key asset, relies on a large commuter base with few alternative east-west thoroughfares through Tampa. Traffic declined moderately during the recession, and remained flat in fiscal 2010 and 2011, while growing 5.8 percent in fiscal 2012.


"The traffic base is expected to be positively impacted once the I-4/ Selmon Expressway Connector and related capital projects are completed between fall 2013 and early 2014," Fitch wrote.

Fitch also cited the authority's plan to implement annual indexed toll increases of not less than 2.5 percent beginning in fiscal 2014, pending board action.


Article courtesy of Tampa Bay Business Journal.



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22nd Street Corridor Improvements Planned

The SR 585 (21st / 22nd St) Project from Adamo Dr (SR60) to Hillsborough Ave (SR600) is a joint effort between the Florida Department of Transportation and the City of Tampa. Upon the completion and opening of the I-4 / Selmon Connector Project, these improvements will enhance the corridor through roadway, pedestrian, and aesthetic upgrades.   This "urban modification" project includes:


  • Lane reduction (3-lanes to 2-lanes) in the Ybor City area from 3rd Ave to 10th Ave
  • Bicycle facilities and connectivity
  • Historic 5-globe "period" lighting
  • On-street parking in conjunction with the lane reduction
  • Dual-left turn lanes from northbound 22nd St to westbound I-4
  • Storm sewer repairs and rehabilitation
  • Landscape / streetscape features, including park benches, waste baskets, trees and decorative crosswalks


For more information contact Marian Scorza at 813/975-6038 or



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I-275 SB Widening Under Way


The long-awaited widening of I-275 southbound lanes from downtown Tampa to Westshore began in July and is expected to be done in four years. The northbound lanes were widened several years ago.

Once completed, the $215 million project will open the median for managed lanes & multi-modal options such as rail and express bus service.
View more project information or contact John McShaffery at 813/233-3837.



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Dale Mabry Design Improvements

The Florida Department of Transportation is designing improvements to SR 597 / Dale Mabry Highway just north of Hillsborough County from County Line Road to North of Brinson Road.


Resurfacing of this 4-lane rural roadway will include improvements like adding sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Construction is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2014.  For more information contact Ashley Henzel at 813/975-6587 or



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CCC Adopts Regional Priorities

The West Central Florida MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee (CCC) decided on transportation priorities for the region at their September 14th meeting. Among the projects vying for Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP) funding, those prioritized in Hillsborough County include:


  • 25 more vanpools for commuters in the 7-county region
  • Advanced Traffic Management System to improve signals and traffic flow in Tampa
  • Adding two more lanes to Bruce B Downs Blvd from Pebble Creek Dr to County Line Rd.

The CCC also prioritized regional trail projects, including the segment connecting the Upper Tampa Bay Trail from Peterson Rd to the Suncoast trailhead on Lutz-Lake Fern Rd, and the South Tampa Greenway from the Gandy Bridge to Bayshore Blvd. With the CCC's endorsement, these projects will be eligible for statewide transportation enhancement dollars. As a new endeavor, the CCC also prioritized major initiatives for larger, longer-term projects. The list of "high priority major initiatives" includes:

  • Widening I-75 to at least six lanes from Hernando to Sarasota counties, and adding managed lanes for use by express buses, carpools and tolls for other vehicles.
  • Adding managed lanes and express bus service on I-4 and I-275 from Pinellas County to Orlando.
  • Replacing the older eastbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge and adding a dedicated transit "envelope" and inter-modal centers at each end.

Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Secretary Don Skelton gave the keynote address.  Highlighting funding trends and upcoming projects, for the first time in several years, he noted a brighter funding picture, allowing FDOT to add or advance more projects in the five year work program. These include expanding I-75 from SR 54 northward and widening the southbound lanes of I-275 in Tampa (see article above). Secretary Skelton also mentioned that the I-4 / Selmon Connector project currently under construction is expected to be open by the end of 2013.


View the the Sept 14th meeting details for more information.     



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Thinking Outside the Farebox

A group of high-powered movers and shakers convened in St Petersburg on September 19th to discuss creative ways to finance transit projects. Event sponsors included the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pinellas Realtor Organization, Tampa Bay Partnership, TransitWorks, Tampa Bay Chapter of NAIOP, Transportation for America, Westshore Alliance, and Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.


St Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster challenged attendees by noting that Orlando and Miami are ahead of Tampa Bay's regional transit network, putting our region at a competitive disadvantage. Panelists including State Senator Jack Latvala, County Commissioners Mark Sharpe (Hillsborough) and Kenneth Welch (Pinellas), and Chairman Ronnie Duncan (TBARTA) gave their perspectives on the need for better regional transit connections. Speakers from the Denver and Washington, DC regions provided insight from other metropolitan areas. And representatives from the American Public Transportation Association, the US Department of Transportation, and Transportation for America shed light on the future of federal funding.


An overall theme emerging from the conference was not to look to the feds for more grants. Instead, transit advocates must seek creative solutions such as federal loan programs, debt financing, joint real estate development, and strategic partnerships with private investors. John Porcari, Deputy Secretary of the US DOT summed it up by saying, "The feds will help those who help themselves."



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Regional Congestion Management

West Central Florida travelers are faced with the aggravation and the high cost of time and wasted gas spent in an increasing number of traffic jams. The region's transportation planners are working to develop solutions to the congestion problems by by first envisioning two lofty goals: let's support both the region's economy and its quality of life. How well we perform at reaching those goals is determined by measuring and tracking our level of success at minimizing congestion, moving trucks, improving access to jobs, providing safer facilities and giving people more transit options.

A number of creative strategies are available for implementation with the end result of to a better working transportation system, which can ultimately lead to an improved economy and better quality of life!  While those strategies are being pursued, it seemed interesting to see how the Tampa Bay Area compares to a number of peer communities across the country. A kind of "report card" on congestion, transit, and safety.

View the information presented to the CCC on Sept 14, 2012

For more information contact Gena Torres at 813/273-3774 x357, or



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Election 2012: Upcoming Florida Transportation Votes

Voters in two Florida communities will decide on November 6 whether to boost transportation funding. Another Florida locale will decide the fate of certain pickup trucks.

A lengthy list of ballot questions in Pasco County will include a sales tax question. Voters in the area north of Tampa will be asked whether they want to renew the current penny sales tax in the county for another 10 years.  The tax revenue benefits schools, public safety, and transportation projects. An extension is projected to raise about $502 million during the next decade.  The county and school district would split 90 percent of the revenue. Pasco's six municipalities would divvy the rest based on population.

Ballots in Alachua County will include a question about whether to pass a three-quarter percent sales tax for roads. The tax, which would be in effect for 15 years, is estimated to generate $22.5 million annually to pay for road maintaining, paving and reconstruction throughout the county, including all municipalities.  The City of Gainesville would claim about $5.5 million - or 24 percent - of the annual revenue. Supporters say discretionary sales surtaxes are common in the state. All but one of Alachua County's surrounding eight counties levy the surtaxes.

Coral Gables in Miami-Dade County will cast ballots on whether to modify a ban on parking pickup trucks overnight in the city. Currently, a city ordinance prohibits pickups from being parked overnight on city streets or in residential driveways. The ballot question will ask voters whether to allow residents to have one non-commercial pickup per residence. Pickups would be required to have a fully covered bed and no more than four wheels.  


Article courtesy of Land Line Mag


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Free Anti-DUI Smartphone App

Recently, New Mexico State and anti-drunk driving officials unveiled a mobile phone application that aims to prevent drunken driving by allowing users to estimate their blood alcohol content, store a list of designated drivers, and easily find taxis. The free application, ENDWI, is available for Android device users and is expected to be available soon for iPhone users.


"This new smartphone application is just one more tool that we can all use to report DWI (driving while intoxicated), increase our awareness of the intoxicating effects of alcohol and help those around us find a safe ride home," Governor Susana  Martinez said in a statement.


The app also features a game that monitors a user's reaction time and a one-touch button allowing users to report suspected drunken drivers. Users can determine their estimated blood alcohol content before getting behind the wheel by typing in how many drinks they've had. One of the goals of the app is to eliminate repeat drunken drivers.


"Battling repeat DWI offenders is a critical and urgent problem facing New Mexico," Martinez said. The governor said addressing the problem would take everything from proper highway planning to tougher sentencing laws.


Install ENDWI for Android.



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In this Issue
MPO receives APA Florida's only Award of Excellence
Columbus Drive Bridge Rehabilitated
Selmon Expressway Growth
22nd St Improvements
I - 275 Widening
Dale Mabry Improvements
CCC Regional Priorities
Thinking Outside the Farebox
Regional Congestion Management
Election 2012: Transportation
Anti - DUI App
University Area Transit Workshop on October 4th!
US DOT New Web Site




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