Issue 12  


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

April 2014     


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Have your say about the future!

intense discussion about future alternatives for Hillsborough County  

What does a good transportation system mean to you? The MPO has heard a lot of answers from citizens over the years -- everything from "please fix the pavement" and "why can't the traffic signals tell that I'm waiting?" to high speed ferries and automated people-movers.  


In this year's update of our community's long range plan for transportation, we're bundling these many ideas together and measuring their performance. What are we investing in pavement and bridges, and is it enough to keep the bridges from falling down?  (Don't worry, the short answer to that last question is yes!)  Are we spending enough on bus service, so that hospital workers can count on a ride home after the late shift?  Is it safe for students (and parents!) to cross the road to get to school-- and how do we fix that, if the answer is no?


And when it comes to job growth, are we doing everything we can to help the economic rebound? Are there strategic investments that would make corporate parks and business districts less traffic-clogged and more attractive to major employers?


Right now, the MPO is crunching the numbers to allow you to look at the trade-offs. Last fall, more than 3500 of you weighed in on our Imagine 2040 interactive survey. This summer, we'll have a new survey asking you to look at those numbers and tell us what what you believe we should invest in as a community. What is most important for our future? 


Now is a great time to invite us to your civic group, community association, or business group. We'd be happy to present what's on the drawing board, answer questions, and listen to your ideas on important topics like funding priorities.

Please email Lisa Silva or call 813/273-3774 x 329 to request a presentation or visit this summer to have your say!

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Collins Street Corridor Study honored  

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) held its 22nd Annual Future of the Region Awards event on March 28th, 2014, at the Hilton St Petersburg Carillon Park. The Future of the Region Awards event highlights projects and programs that exemplify regionalism and recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community.


The City of Plant City was pleased to receive an award of Honorable Mention in the category of Development/Infrastructure for Collins Street Corridor Study. City of Plant City requested the Hillsborough MPO to develop an integrated plan for street and landscaping improvements along Collins Street from Alexander Street to Reynolds Street to:

  • enhance the man-made and natural environment
  • use innovative planning and design techniques
  • promote the cost effective use of public funding
  • improve the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Plant City and eastern Hillsborough County

The project is approximately two miles long and covers the central transportation spine of the municipality, which also serves as the southern gateway into Plant City's Midtown and Downtown Districts. "...As Collins Street is our central transportation corridor, the vision provided by this study will, once implemented, enhance our redevelopment efforts in both Downtown and Midtown, along with creating a unique identity that reflects our shared history and promotes a bright future for Plant City," said Commissioner William D. Dodson.


The study defines a desired vision to create a unique identity for the southern gateway into Plant City, including guidance on streetscape components, such as bicycle and pedestrian amenities; street lighting; signage; crosswalks; and potential reconfigurations to enhance livability. "The Collins street project represents a proactive first step to link enhanced mobility with planned redevelopment and economic opportunity. The plan reinforces Plant City's historical identity while establishing a sustainable vision for future growth." said project landscape architect David Larsen, Atkins.   


View the Commemorative Program, including a listing of all this year's winners.

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Making Westshore Boulevard "Grand" 


Westshore Boulevard is the primary north-south thoroughfare through the Westshore Business District. Over the years, the Westshore Business District has become the largest employment and retail center in West Central Florida. With a suburban style development pattern, Westshore Boulevard is a busy street with outdated accommodations and many design features since it was developed in the 1960s. It is actually a county road that runs through and is maintained by the City of Tampa. 


Recent private development projects, have been changing to more of an urban development pattern, with the front of buildings located next to the public sidewalk. New infill development projects adhere to overlay district architectural standards. These standards and increased density have encouraged the use of other modes of transportation beyond the private automobile.


With input from the Westshore Business Alliance, the City of Tampa retained a consultant to identify opportunities to makeover Westshore into a "Grand Boulevard" between Kennedy Boulevard and Spruce Street. After evaluating the feasibility of improvements for other modes of travel and to improve aesthetics along this primary arterial, recommendations include wider sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaped medians, burying overhead utilities, lowering the speed limit and reducing the road to four lanes.  The study found that doing so would increase travel times by only 4.4%. It also recommends deleting the six-laning of Westshore Boulevard from the MPO's 2035 Plan.


Funding will have to be identified before these recommendations can move forward.  For more information contact  Lisa K. Silva, AICP, PLA, at 813/273-3774 x329.



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Interstate construction update  


Anyone traveling on our Interstates knows that the Florida DOT has a lot of work going on. Travelers often ask: when will the construction be done? FDOT recently issued a status report on projects recently completed or wrapping up:
  • I-75 bridge deck replacement over Harney Rd: FDOT re-constructed both the northbound and southbound I-75 bridges over Harney Rd (between Interstate 4/Exit 261 and Fowler Avenue/Exit 265). This included replacing a section of the bridge, as well as drainage improvements. The project improved the overall quality of ride for the public, as well as improved the drainage. Completed February 2014.
  • I-75 southbound exit ramp extension & widening at SR 60 includes a southbound auxiliary lane beginning about a mile north of the existing exit and will result in a two-lane ramp. This double-lane ramp will replace the existing single-lane ramp to SR 60 in Brandon and connect to the existing four lanes at the foot of the ramp at SR 60. The project is expected to be done this Fall.


Looking ahead a little further, FDOT expects to complete two major projects in 2016:


  • I-75 widening from Fowler Avenue to State Road 56 will result in three through-lanes in each direction in addition to auxiliary lanes near interchanges, resurfacing of existing travel lanes, drainage improvements and new bridge construction. Estimated completion date Spring 2016.

For more information, contact Wally Blain at 813/273-3774 x 361.

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Vets Expressway goes all-electronic


The Florida Turnpike Enterprise has another big construction project underway, affecting northwest Hillsborough County and our northern neighbors. The Veterans Expressway/Suncoast Parkway widening and conversion to all-electronic tolling are on pace for completion within the next two years:


Widening Projects

  • Phase I Widening, from Memorial to Gunn Highway is under construction, scheduled for completion in 2015 and 2016
  • Phase II Widening, from Gunn Highway to Sugarwood Toll Plaza, is funded for as a Design/Build project with construction beginning in Fiscal Year 2014
  • Phase III Widening, from the Sugarwood Toll Plaza to Van Dyke Road, is also funded as a Design/Build project with construction beginning in Fiscal Year 2015


Conversion to All Electronic Tolling


  • Memorial to Van Dyke, is under construction and scheduled for implementation by late spring 2014
  • Suncoast Parkway, also under construction and scheduled for implementation by early 2015 


When finished, the Veterans Expressway will double in size, with six general purpose lanes and two express lanes from Memorial Highway to Van Dyke Rd. The express lanes will feature variable tolls to manage congestion levels, provide safer through-trips and more reliable travel times. After conversion to all-electronic tolling, motorists must have a SunPass prepaid toll account or they will be mailed a bill and charged a monthly invoice fee.  


For further information visit the Florida Turnpike Enterprise website.



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FDOT summit focuses on safety


FDOT District 7 held the Fourth Annual Safety Summit on March 5, 2014. It was well-attended with public officials, engineers, planners, health field representatives, and law enforcement. The Safety Summit:

  • Provided FDOT and local staff with key information on traffic safety issues in the Tampa Bay region
  • Briefed local partners on strategies to reduce crashes throughout the region, highlighting successes that include Walkwise Tampa Bay's safety eduction program and Hillsborough County's safety improvements for walkers on Fletcher Ave
  • Focused on state and federal safety funds dedicated to local projects under FDOT's Highway Safety Improvement Program, including:
    • Over $500,000 annually in local project design support (including projects managed under the Local Agency Program, or LAP)
    • More than $1,000,000 annually in local roadway safety engineering & education support (including Community Traffic Safety Team education, Safety Ambassadors, and LAP support)
    • Over $2,000,000 annually in local roadway safety project funding targeting intersection safety, pedestrian safety and rural lane departure problems
  • Reached a consensus on ways to strengthen the safety partnership between FDOT and local agencies.

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



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FDOT considers options for SR 60 east  

The Florida Department of Transportation is conducting a Project Development and Environment Study (PD&E) for SR 60 from Valrico Road to the Polk County Line.  The purpose is to identify and evaluate design concepts for six-laning the road and determine any potential effects on the natural and human environment.


The study, which began in June 2012, identifies two alternative design concepts: a complete re-construction that would need no additional right-of-way, or saving the existing pavement which would require more right-of-way at key locations.   


These were presented at a public workshop held on March 18th at Strawberry Ridge Community Center in Dover.  The study was also presented to the MPO's advisory committees for their comments.


The Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Technical Advisory Committee, and Livable Roadways Committee all expressed concern about the safety of bicyclists and walkers, and urged consideration of features such as side paths and buffers in the design.


On April 1st, the MPO board approved a letter to FDOT reiterating the concerns of the committees.  The study is slated to wrap up with a formal public hearing later this summer. Later phases for design, right-of-way acquisition and construction are not funded. 


For more information, contact FDOT Project Manager, Stephanie Pierce.



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Airport unveils new welcome feature Tampa International Airport Welcome Feature  

Tampa International Airport's new 30-foot entrance sign construction is now finished and ready to welcome visitors with its LED light display and large "Spirit of Flight" airport logo.


"This welcome feature is a wonderful new addition that we hope will enhance the experience for our visitors and bring an even greater sense of pride to those who live in the Tampa Bay area," said Al Illustrato, Vice President of Facilities and Administration at Tampa International Airport. "We're pleased with the finished product, which we think reflects the design and spirit of our airport and will become an iconic image over time."


The welcome feature, made of concrete and translucent polycarbonate panels, stands 21 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The sign will be lit by LED lights, triggered by sensors when it is dark, and will be customized to change colors on demand, such as for Independence Day and other holidays and special events.


The sign incorporates both the style and look of the airport building and features the TPA logo, which represents an airliner flying over the blue waters of Tampa Bay and under the orange and red sunset.


Workers from Foresight Construction Group, a minority-owned business hired last September to build the sign, stood by to watch the official first lighting of the sign.


"We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to create the first-ever welcome feature for Tampa International Airport just as the facility is preparing to expand," said Juan Segarra, President of Foresight Construction Group. "This was a positive experience throughout the process, and we look forward to pursuing more competitive opportunities on projects at TPA."



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In this Issue
Have your say
Collins St Corridor
Westshore complete streets
FDOT interstate projects
Veterans all-electric tolling
FDOT safety summit
SR60 improvements
New welcome at Airport!




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