|FDOT Slates Diverse Projects for Hillsborough County|
The Florida Department of Transportation presented a diverse array of projects slated for Hillsborough County in its work program for the next five fiscal years, beginning July 1, 2013. Closely following priorities established by the MPO, it is considered tentative until adopted by the Florida Legislature later this Spring.
Some of the major road construction highlights for the next five years in Hillsborough County include:
- Adding four more lanes to Bruce B Downs Blvd in 2015, from Bearss Ave to south of Palms Springs Blvd, as well as constructing two more lanes from Pebble Creek Blvd to the Pasco County line beginning in 2017
- Expanding MLK Blvd to four lanes with construction starting in 2016 from Parsons Ave to Kingsway Rd, and right-of-way purchased to east of McIntosh Rd starting in 2017
- Adding four more lanes to US 301 from Sun City Blvd to Balm Rd, with construction to start in 2016
- Expanding Sam Allen Rd to four lanes from SR 39 to east of Park Rd beginning in 2018
- Preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the interchange of SR 60 and I-275 in the Westshore business district starting in 2017
- In addition, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise plans to add four new lanes, two of them as express lanes, to the Veteran's Expressway from Gunn Hwy to Van Dyke Rd starting in 2014
The tentative work program also includes funding for a number of 'transportation alternative' projects, including:
- Building the next segment of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail from Van Dyke Rd to the Suncoast Parkway Trail starting this year
- Adding a southbound bicycle lane on Bayshore Blvd from Rome Ave to S Howard Ave in 2015 and extending it to Gandy in 2018
- Adding bicycle facilities and sidewalks on Bougainvillea Ave from 30th St to 46th St, construction starting in 2017
- Adding bicycle lanes and sidewalks to Willow Ave from Swann Ave to Main St, construction starting in 2017
- Building bicycle lanes and sidewalks on Palm Ave from North Blvd to Nebraska, construction beginning in 2018
Many of the bicycle and pedestrian projects come from the Tampa Walk/Bike Plan sponsored by the Hillsborough MPO. The tentative work program also includes funding for projects to prepare interchanges on I-75 for managed lanes, new buses for HART and vans for TBARTA vanpools, as well as a variety of port and airport projects.
Overall, FDOT District Seven's tentative work program anticipates spending almost $800 million in Hillsborough County over the next five years, including all capacity, safety, operating and maintenance projects. The MPO will consider these projects at its January 8th meeting. A statewide public hearing is scheduled for March 4, 2013. More details are available in the MPO agenda package.
|How are we doing?|
It's time for our Federal Certification Review, and we need you to weigh in on the transportation planning process!
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) conduct reviews of designated Transportation Management Areas (TMAs). The primary purpose is to certify that the TMA is satisfactorily meeting the planning requirements as defined in Federal laws and regulation. The certification also provides FHWA and FTA the opportunity to add value to the TMA's planning processes through the sharing of best or innovative planning practices, techniques, and/or technology.
Please join our Federal Certification Review Team for a Public Meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in the Board of County Commission Chambers on the 2nd floor of the County Center Building at 601 East Kennedy Boulevard in Downtown Tampa (immediately prior to the MPO Board Meeting). Those that can not attend, but would like to provide public comments, please fill out the comment form below:
Hillsborough MPO Federal Certification Review Public Comment Form
Public comments will be accepted through March 5, 2013.
|MPO studies connections to|
CSX Intermodal Yard
The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), in cooperation with Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Seven, conducted a Freight Sub-Area Study focusing on the CSX Intermodal (CSXI) Terminal in East Tampa and general truck circulation within the area between Columbus Dr, Orient Rd, 50th St (US 41) and the terminal. The roadway connections within this sub-area have heavy truck traffic that accesses an intermodal rail terminal, distribution centers, trucking company yards, scrap yards, and other manufacturing businesses.
Many of the roads connecting these facilities to I-4 and the main highway system are inadequate and/or not designed for large trucks. Besides the industrial uses, the area has the remnants of small residential clusters mostly in the form of mobile home parks and scattered single family residences.
The CSXI Terminal is a major facility for transferring freight from rail to semi-trailers, generating between 200 and 500 truck trips per day. The only access road, 62nd St, is a narrow, formerly residential street with open drainage and deep ditches on both sides. During the early stages of the Tampa Bay Regional Goods Movement Study (TBRGMS), drivers surveyed at the terminal entrance gate identified access to this facility as problematic.
In the short term, the study recommends new turn lanes Broadway Ave at 62nd St and shifting the CSXI entrance to Orient Rd as a potential longer-term improvement. MPO staff will present alternative solutions to the MPO Board at its January 8, 2013 meeting.
Image courtesy of thecourier.typepad.com.
|Tampa International Airport Master Plan seeking public comment|
The public was invited to attend an open forum on the Tampa International Airport Master Plan in October 2012. Consultant HNTB shared the latest details on the proposed Master Plan, including suggested changes to the existing facilities and land usage. The centerpiece of the plan so far: A consolidated rental car center near the entrance to the airport campus connected to the terminal by an automated people mover. Also, the consultant has proposed moving employee and tenant parking to that area, south of the main terminal, along with commercial development.
The proposal was developed after analyzing new passenger growth projections for the next 20 years. HNTB also suggested developing land east of the terminal with expanded cargo operations, aircraft repair and maintenance operations, and businesses such as manufacturing facilities that need easy access to an airfield. "Community engagement is critical to this process," said Al Illustrato, the airport's Vice President of Facilities who is working with the consultants on the plan. "We want anyone who uses or cares about the airport to tell us what they think of these concepts and help us focus the vision for the airport's future."
Tampa International Airport's last master plan, completed in 2005, called for building a new, $1 billion terminal north of the existing one. But the economic downturn and changes in the airline industry in recent years slowed passenger growth, delaying the need for that expansion. Redeveloping the south property and reconfiguring the existing terminal is intended accommodate growth for the next 20 years while preserving land on the north side of the campus for future expansion.
"With only 3,300 acres, we have to be very thoughtful about how land is used," said airport CEO Joe Lopano. "This plan allows us to take a measured approach for growing the airport's core business - moving passengers. It also lays the groundwork for new revenue and job-creation opportunities through aviation-related and passenger-support businesses."
Image courtesty of travelforaircraft.wordpress.com.
Visit TIA's Master Plan website for more information.
|Tampa launches Bright Lights, Safe Nights program|
Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced in October an initiative to add 8,400 new streetlights in the city over the next five years. Tampa plans to spend $2.2 million increasing the total number nearly 30% above the current 30,000 streetlights. Buckhorn's "Bright Lights, Safe Nights" program takes on a problem that contributed to the death of a pedestrian hit by a car on a dark 43rd St in November 2011.
As part of the new program, announced jointly with TECO, the city's transportation division will conduct an annual citywide inventory of streetlights. Dim lights will be replaced. Tree branches blocking lights will be trimmed. New lights will be installed starting in January and will be targeted in areas that have higher rates of crime and car crashes, as well as in the city's designated community redevelopment areas of East Tampa, Ybor City, Tampa Heights, Drew Park, Central Park, the Channel District and downtown.
"We've had a number of pedestrian fatalities that have occurred at intersections and on streets in our community where perhaps the lights could have been stronger, the lights could have been brighter, or there could have been more lights," Mayor Buckhorn said. "Those young moms who are walking on our sidewalks and crossing our streets will now have streets that are well-lit and are safer." East Tampa community leaders welcomed the program, saying it would make the area safer. "It's going to create neighborhoods where our elderly people can feel free to walk, even at night," said Reverand T.W. Jenkins, Pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
Details courtesy of tampabay.com.
Image courtesy of synergylightingusa.com.
|Gov. Scott talks freight in Orlando|
How can Florida become the hub of trade in the country? That's the question the leaders in the freight and trade industry were trying to answer in August. They want to improve our current system by adding more jobs and more money to the state.
Governor Rick Scott signed the Freight Mobility and Trade Plan back in April. Now, leaders with the Florida Department of Transportation are working to develop a plan to create policies and investments that will improve trade economy in the future. With the position of the state and the fact that water surrounds the majority of the state state leaders are looking to increase trade.
There are currently 15 major seaports in the state. The focus of the plan is to improve the freight and trade business at seaports, airports, on rail lines and on state highways. Scott said we need to work with businesses to put our state in the lead when it comes to the freight and trade industry.
For the past few months, FDOT and state officials have traveled the state gathering public and private input. "We can truly become the Singapore of the Western Hemisphere. and when you talk about freight, trade logistics, transportation that helps moves goods and services throughout the state of Florida and also internationally and because of where we are positioned this helps grow our economy," said Workforce Florida president and CEO Chris Hart.
Florida DOT leaders must have their plan completed by July 2013.
Image and details courtesy of cfnews13.com.
|Florida's infrastructure fails to make the grade|
Florida's infrastructure has not improved over the last four years according to a new report by Florida's civil engineers. The report, the 2012 Report Card for Florida's Infrastructure, was released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Florida Section on October 24th in Miami. Local civil engineers volunteered a year of their time grading the state's systems to raise awareness about the poor state of Florida's infrastructure.
GRADES - 2012 Report Card:
D- Coastal Areas
D+ Flood Control
C Water and Sewer
The original Report Card for Florida's Infrastructure was released in 2008. Regrettably, most of the category grades have stayed the same or have gotten worse since that time. More specifically the following grades got worse since the original release in 2008: Coastal Areas dropped from a C+ to a D-; Energy from a D+ to a D; Flood Control from a C to a D+; Storm water from a C+ to a C; Transit from a C+ to a C and Water and Sewer from a B- to a C.
"Florida is a critical part of our national infrastructure system," said Maria Fernandez-Porrata, Chair of the Florida Section Government Relations Committee. "If our state cannot improve its infrastructure, then not only Floridians, but families across the country, are going to see prices rise, GDP shrink, and our economy remain stagnant."
The report highlights work that needs to be done, but also shows some areas of improvement. The only category to raise its grade from 2008 was stormwater. The grade went up mostly due to more municipalities implementing stormwater utilities and assessing residents with stormwater rates.
"Florida ports, Florida roads, and Florida bridges are all responsible for bringing goods in and out of our country," saying Eric Czerniejewski, Executive Director and Chair of the 2012 Report Card Committee. "As a state, we have fallen behind in building a modern infrastructure system that will be sustainable in a post-recession economy."
The 2012 Report Card for Florida's Infrastructure is based on the Report Card for America's Infrastructure, which last gave the nation a D grade in 2009, and will be updated in early 2013.
Details courtesy of Columbia County Observer.
Image courtesy of Robert Neff at Fifth World Art (via Flickr).
|Texting & Driving Ban Bill filed again|
Drivers would be banned from manually typing or reading texts, emails or other electronic messages while operating a car under legislation filed in the Senate in November. The measure (SB 52), filed by Senator Nancy Detert, R-Venice, calls for the offense to be what is known as a "secondary offense," meaning officers could only ticket people for texting while driving if they've stopped them for some other traffic violation. That is, if a police officer sees someone texting they wouldn't be able to pull them over - but if they see someone speeding and texting, they could tack on extra charges for texting in addition to the speeding penalty.
Drivers would still be able to read navigational devices or electronic maps without incurring a penalty under the proposal. Reading weather alerts or other safety-related information would also be exempt, as would using a hands-free voice-recognition application. Texting while driving would be a non-moving violation, punishable by a $30 fine, under the bill.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has urged Florida and other states to ban the use of cell phones for texting or talking while driving. The NTSB said last year that distracted driving, some of it due to cell phone use, contributed to nearly 4,000 highway deaths a year, citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. About a quarter of American drivers admit they sometimes text and drive. The issue is on the NTSB's "most wanted" list for changes in transportation safety nationwide.
According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, Florida is one of only five states without some sort of ban on texting while driving. The others are Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, and South Carolina.
Details courtesy of miamiherald.com.
Image courtesy of technobuffalo.com.
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