Issue: 8

Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) eNews 

April 2013    


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Gateway Rail Project wins Regional Award of Distinction 


On March 25th, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council awarded the Tampa Port Authority its 2012 Charles A. McIntosh, Jr. Award of Distinction for the Tampa Gateway Rail Terminal project.


The Gateway Rail Facility supports national and State of Florida renewable energy policies by promoting domestic ethanol production and reducing dependence on foreign energy sources. The facility will handle over 300 million gallons of inbound ethanol each year. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ethanol emits approximately 19% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than gasoline. This facility will replace enough gasoline with ethanol to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.1 billion pounds during its first year of operation.


Demand for ethanol is rising with long-term Florida population growth. Proposed Federal and state regulations are expected to raise the ethanol blend in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent also contributes to higher demand. The new facility will accommodate this demand by increasing ethanol handling capacity by fourfold at the Port of Tampa.


The terminal will initially handle at least one unit train per week with capacity for up to six per week if ethanol demand continues to increase in future years. From the Gateway Rail Facility, the pipeline distribution system at the terminal connects directly to a major regional pipeline network, eliminating inbound ethanol trucks. The flexible terminal can also export ethanol to ships, should the market need arise.


This project is the first U.S. port facility for ethanol-unit-train-to-pipeline distribution, as well as the first on-dock unit train capability at a Florida container port. In addition to ethanol, the terminal will be multi-modal in nature, enjoying the transfer of multiple cargoes from ship to rail.


The public-private partnership responsible for the project builds on previous collaboration by the Port Authority, Florida Department of Transportation, CSX and its subsidiary TRANSFLO and others during the two-year Master Plan development process. The partnership involves multiple modes - including pipeline - to enhance economic competitiveness of the region and of the national ethanol supply chain. Modal integration is critically important to the long-term success of this project, including its ability to reduce regional truck movements and provide the associated livability, environmental sustainability, and safety benefits. 

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Join us to discuss E Hillsborough Ave


East Hillsborough Avenue, from Interstate 275 to east of 50th Street, was identified through the MPO's Congestion Management/Crash Mitigation Process as an important multimodal corridor with persistent safety and mobility issues. In addition to serving as an essential roadway connecting two interstates, Dale Mabry Highway, and northern Pinellas County, Hillsborough Avenue will be part of the route of HART's east-west MetroRapid service.


Last month the MPO kicked off a study to look more closely at this vital corridor. The purpose is to assess conditions along Hillsborough Avenue for all modes of travel and develop short and longer-term alternatives. The study will pinpoint solutions to better balance the needs of all users traveling along this roadway, reduce the frequency and severity of crashes, and support economic development along the corridor, consistent with community values.


The MPO hosted a public workshop last month to discuss a vision and strategies. A follow-up public meeting hosted by the MPO will be held to talk about solutions and design for East Hillsborough Avenue's potential in May. For more information, please contact Gena Torres at 813/273-3774 x357 or  


InVision Tampa is hosting a multi-day Nebraska Avenue Corridor Design Workshop on April 30th and May 2nd from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Children's Board. Community feedback from the previous Nebraska Corridor neighborhood charettes will be discussed and preliminary concepts, ideas and strategies for the Corridor will be discuessed. To attend, please RSVP to:  


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MPO endorses crash reduction strategies


In March, the MPO Board received a study on strategies to reduce crashes on some of Hillsborough County's most heavily-traveled roads.


One way to alleviate traffic congestion is to make it less unpredictable by reducing the frequency and severity of crashes which can cause delay and a host of other social and economic impacts.  Another way to improve the system's overall efficiency is to provide alternatives to sitting in traffic by shifting trips to non-single-occupant modes. This study addressed both objectives. 


The study evaluated the county's crash history and found that over half of the severe crashes were occurring on a relatively small number of major roads and intersections. Bicycle and pedestrian crashes were also over-represented, the study found. The worst locations were identified and creative strategies identified that could effectively reduce the types of crashes occurring. Some of the recommended strategies include modern roundabouts and "quadrant intersections" to divert traffic around congested and dangerous intersections. The study recommended evaluating the feasibility of crash reduction strategies at:  

  • Fowler Avenue
  • E Hillsborough Avenue
  • Brandon Boulevard
  • Waters Avenue
  • Dale Mabry & Waters Intersection


For more information on this study and crash reduction strategies, please contact:  


Gena Torres

813/273-3774 x357


View this story as recently covered on BayNews9:

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CCC endorses Top 10 transportation initiatives for our region

In a historic meeting on March 15, the council of MPOs, known as the MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee, representing the eight counties in West Central Florida agreed on the next big things in transportation. The action came after the list of ten strategic initiatives was independently endorsed by each of the region's MPOs.


The list is a mix of highways and transit, and of long-term aspirations and shovel-ready projects. It reflects goals shared by local governments and the state, capturing hopes for new federal grants and potential public-private partnerships as well as current spending priorities. It aspires to collaborations that are new to this region -- though not new to Florida.


Top Ten Regional Transportation Intiatives:

  1. I-75 through the entire region: Finish building six lanes throughout. Add new express toll lanes. Connect to the Port of Manatee. Include express bus service.
  2. I-4 from the Orlando area, and I-275 west of I-4: Add new express toll lanes. Include express bus service.
  3. I-275 Howard Frankland Bridge: Rebuild the eastbound span, with a transit corridor. Fix the interchange at the east end of bridge, and provide transit connection points.
  4. US 19, Pinellas-Pasco: Add more interchanges and frontage roads. Connect to I-275 at new 118th Ave Exwy. Include express bus service.
  5. SR 54/56, Pasco's "Northern Loop": Add new express toll lanes. Include express bus service.
  6. US 41, Sarasota/Manatee's "Multimodal Corridor": Improve intersections, lanes, bus stations, sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and landscape.
  7. Suncoast Parkway: Extend tollway into Citrus County and connect to US 19. Finish building eight lanes on the Veteran's Exwy. Include express bus service.
  8. Pinellas Alternatives Analysis: New light rail connecting Downtown St Petersburg to Downtown Clearwater through the Gateway Business District. Bus system expansion countywide.
  9. CSX Corridor Hybrid Rail: Sunrail-style agreement with CSX for shared use by passenger vehicles of freight rail corridor, northward and westward from Downtown Tampa.
  10. US 92 Corridor Rail: Extend Sunrail commuter rail service westward to Winter Haven, Lakeland, and Tampa.

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Bus, Bike & Ped projects move ahead

TIP logo New projects continue to receive funding. The MPO has recently added several projects to the Transportation Improvement Program benefiting from competitive grant applications or as a result of lower than expected bids on other projects statewide.


In February, the MPO acknowledged the more than $8 million HART was awarded from two Federal Transit Administration grant programs. The State of Good Repair Program and the Bus Livability programs will allow HART to upgrade and renovate their 21st Avenue Facility and purchase their first Compressed Natural Gas vehicles. More information can be found by viewing the HART website Capital Projects page.


In March, the MPO approved advancing funding for four pedestrian / bicycle projects. The projects, recommended from the City of Tampa Walk/Bike Study, had been slated for Preliminary Engineering in 2015. Due to lower than expected bids on other projects throughout the state these projects - Bougainvillea Avenue, Cypress Street Trail, Palm Avenue, and Willow Avenue - will now go through this design phase later this year. Read more about the  Walk/Bike Study online.


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MPO updates ITS Master Plan

MPO logo Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are a key component in the management of traffic. From the coordination of traffic signals to video cameras and informational message signs on the interstates, ITS is used throughout Hillsborough County.


An update to the Master Plan adopted in 2005 has been circulated through the MPO's committees for review and comment. Once finalized, the Master Plan - which is based on interviews with key stakeholders, emergency responders, and traffic engineers - will serve as a guide for the development of ITS projects. These projects will improve mobility and safety without the high cost of roadway expansion projects in the upcoming 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan. The 2040 Plan must be adopted before December 2014.


View the ITS Master Plan Update


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Better transit to Westshore, Tampa International Airport and beyond




The Westshore business district and Tampa International Airport (TIA) could be a focus for rapid transit connections, if planned projects come to pass. These plans include FDOT's study for a rapid transit connection from Pinellas as part of a new span for the Howard Frankland Bridge, TBARTA's study of BRT or express buses in the Veterans/North Suncoast corridor, and FDOT's project to build managed lanes for buses, carpools and other vehicles in the median of I-275. The MPO's 2035 Plan also envisions rapid transit between downtown Tampa and Westshore. And the Aviation Authority's recent Master Plan update proposed connecting the Airport to a multimodal/ intermodal center in the Westshore district, where passengers could transfer from rapid transit to an Automated People Mover, checking their bags in the process.

At their meeting last month, the MPO Board went on record in letters to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority concerning the need to finalize selection of a Westshore Multimodal Center site, and to reserve a transit corridor around Tampa International Airport.


In a 2012 location analysis, the MPO recommended four alternative sites for the multimodal center to be built by FDOT in the vicinity of Cypress and Trask Streets or the Westshore Mall. The letter approved by the MPO Board requests that the FDOT select a final preferred site for the Westshore Multimodal Center and seek funding to advance the project.


The MPO Board also agreed to send a letter to the Aviation Authority requesting the preservation of a corridor around the airport along West Spruce St, Boy Scout Blvd, Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa Bay Blvd, and Cargo Rd, which would enable premium transit to run north to Linebaugh Ave in the future. The previous airport master plan envisioned a northern terminal and a rail transit line running through the terminals and continuing north towards Linebaugh Ave.



For more information, see the MPO agenda for March 12.


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County Commission forms Transportation Leadership Group

After listening to the public comment for more than an hour, on March 20th the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to establish a leadership group made up of themselves, the mayors of Plant City, Tampa, Temple Terrace, and HART's Chairman. The group will hold a series of workshops to discuss Hillsborough County's transportation future, including funding.


The Board's interest stems from the realization that transportation and economic development go hand-in-hand. For example, their Economic Prosperity Stakeholders' Committee recommended focusing transportation improvements to support economic development that attracts high-wage jobs in target industries.


Before the Board's vote, members of the public spoke passionately about the need for more and better transportation. Some favored rail, others Bus Rapid Transit, and others spoke about the need for safer walking and cycling. In a rare moment of non-partisanship, the presidents of the local Young Democrats and Young Republicans delivered a joint statement pledging to work towards "common ground" on transit, smart growth and funding.


According to a process laid out by County Administrator Mike Merrill, the leadership group will consist of "funders and constructors" and start meeting within six weeks. It will begin by discussing how transportation can help Hillsborough County achieve economic development and job growth, then move on to funding issues. A series of workshops will be conducted with the help of a facilitator, and include extensive stakeholder engagement. The workshops are expected to build on existing plans and studies, and include support from the MPO.


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Sequestration costs Florida $1.6 Million in federal highway funding

The budgetary impasse between Congress and the President leading to across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will cost Florida $1.6 million in Federal Highway Administration funding.  This represents a tiny sliver - less than a tenth of a percent - of Florida's overall FHWA funding.  Most highway programs, like interstate program or the surface transportation program that funds projects in our metropolitan area, are funded through the Highway Trust Fund which is not affected by sequestration.


Federal Transit Administration funding through formula and bus grants are likewise unaffected by sequestration, however, transit capital investment grants commonly known as New Starts and Small Starts funding will suffer a five percent reduction.  Also affected is funding for Amtrak, disaster relief, and general fund transfers to the Highway Trust Fund.


Nationwide, in this fiscal year federally funded transportation programs hit by sequestration are expected to be cut by more than $1.1 billion from an annual budget of $60.6 billion.  And going forward, unless Congress and the President resolve their differences, the Budget Control Act mandates annual sequesters over the next ten years.


View the OMB sequestration report.

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In this Issue
Gateway Rail Project
E Hillsborough Corridor
Crash Reduction Strategies
CCC endorses Regional Top 10
TIP Projects
ITS Master Plan Update
Westshore Area Multimodal
Transportation Leadership Group




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Wants to hear from you!
As part of the update of the Regional Transportation Master Plan, TBARTA has opened a web site where you can log in your comments:

In addition, TBARTA will be hosting five Telephone Town Halls, beginning with Hillsborough County on April 1st.

Click here for more information on the Telephone Town Call series.

Imagine Hillsborough 2040


There's still room for you!

The next meeting of our Imagine 2040 Working Group will be held:

Tuesday, April 16
4pm - 6pm
at the
Children's Board

To learn more, please visit:

Plan 2040 online

To join the Imagine 2040 Working Group, send us an email.


Useful Links

Hillsborough TIP 


Tampa Bay Interstates 


Hillsborough County Major Community Projects 


City of Tampa Transportation Division 


City of Tampa Transportation Information Resources 


HART Projects


Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority 


Florida's Turnpike Enterprise Construction 







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