Issue 14   

      

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

October 2014     

 

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Draft 2040 Plan opens for comment  

 

After 18 months of work including extensive Imagine 2040 public input, the draft of the Plan 2040 Transportation Plan is now ready for your inspection! Actually, it's twin plans, but as MPO Executive Director Ray Chiaramonte explained at the MPO's September 30th Board Meeting, "They're not identical twins."

The "twin plans" reflect two distinct 20-year funding scenarios for the public to comment on:
  • The first scenario illustrates what can be afforded with existing funding sources - equaling $13.5 billion (in inflated dollars).
  • The second looks at the addition of a one-cent sales tax - increasing funding to $22.5 billion in funding.

Hillsborough County is expected to grow by more than a half million new residents and almost that number of new jobs by 2040. The draft Plan takes this expected growth into account, as well as addressing our current transportation needs, including investments designed to help us get around by:
  • Preserving the system
  • Reducing crashes and vulnerability
  • Minimizing traffic for drivers and shippers
  • Offering real choices when not driving

 

The draft 2040 Plan also recommends major investments in road and transit projects serving Westshore, downtown Tampa, the University area, and other areas where jobs and businesses will concentrate. The final 2040 Plan must be cost feasible, meaning that the cost of investments must be balanced with federal, state and local funding expected over a 20-year period.

 

 

Under the first scenario, most of the four investment programs would continue at their current level of investment. Under the second scenario, local governments would be able to boost spending on the investment programs, plus invest in major roadway and transit projects. With either scenario, the FDOT will fund additional improvements to the Strategic Intermodal System.

We want to hear from you!

The MPO Board authorized the release of the draft 2040 Plan and wants to hear from you! The public comment period on the two scenarios will run through November 12th. The draft 2040 Plan can be reviewed on the MPO website and at the Planning Commission library (601 E Kennedy Boulevard, 18th floor, Tampa).

A Public Hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 12th in the Board of County Commissioners chambers on the second floor of the County Center (601 E Kennedy Boulevard, 2nd floor, in downtown Tampa). At this hearing, the MPO is expected to adopt one of these two scenarios as the long range transportation plan for all of Hillsborough County. To remain eligible to spend state and federal dollars on transportation projects, an updated plan must approved no later than December 9th.

The MPO encourages the public have their say before the MPO Board considers adoption of the Plan at the Public Hearing. If you are unable to attend the Public Hearing on November 12th, please contact us before then with your comments, questions, suggestions, and concerns. Please visit our website to see multiple ways to contact us to submit your comments in advance of the Public Hearing, so your voice will be heard.  For more information, contact Beth Alden by email or telephone 813/273-3774 x318.

This public hearing will be broadcast live with closed-captioning on HTV or via tinyurl.com/HTVwebcast. Persons planning to attend the public hearing in need of special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or who require interpreter services (free of charge) should contact Michele Ogilvie at 813/273-3774 x317 or email ogilviem@plancom.org, at least 3 business days in advance.

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Imagine 2040 : Part 2...

You told us more! 

 

More than 2,400 citizens spoke up in July and August for the future of transportation. Over an 8-week period, culminating with an interactive display at Florida's Largest Home Show over Labor Day weekend. Opinions were sought on transportation needs from a wide spectrum of groups at 65 events as well as from the comfort of people's offices and homes online. A partnership between the Hillsborough MPO and the Planning Commission, Imagine 2040 was a cooperative and collaborative exercise for working together with the citizens, businesses, and other community stakeholders, as well as our planning partners including the the Transportation for Economic Development Policy Leadership Group and the jurisdictions we serve.

 



Staff sifted through thousands of data points and individual comments about Hillsborough County's transportation future. So, what did the public say?

Asked what we need to do to plan for growth?  respondents ranked:
#1 Encouraging walkable places Followed by:
-  Filling in and reusing already developed areas
-  Building homes near transit

Asked where they would invest limited funding on transportation? Responses uniformly agreed that more needs to be spent to preserve the system, reduce crashes and vulnerability, minimize traffic for drivers and shippers, and provide real choices when not driving.

The survey also asked citizens to give "thumbs up or down" for funding big-ticket items such as major road widening, express toll lanes or rapid transit systems to promote jobs and economic growth. By far, survey respondents gave a big "thumbs up" to investing in greater downtown Tampa, where rail would connect to USF and TIA.  Other top choices, in order, were roads serving USF and medical centers, Brandon West, new express toll lanes on Interstate highways, MacDill AFB (including the high speed ferry), and Westshore and  Rocky Point.



Fully 82% of respondents exceeded the 20-year budget of $5.5 billion in existing revenues. Most participants on the Imagine 2040 : Part 2 interactive website selected transportation programs and projects totaling $7 - $9 billion. Those who participated in the audience polling at meeting or events were asked how they would handle the shortfall. Most opted to raise taxes and fees, but some wanted to spend less on programs and projects.

Seven out of ten survey takers left their zip codes. Responses came from all over and mirrored the distribution of population across the County.

So what does it all mean? Results from Imagine 2040 : Part 2 feed directly into recommend spending priorities in the draft 2040 Transportation Plan, which is highlighted in the article above. For more information, see the Imagine 2040 : Part 2 Public Engagement Report.

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Happy New (Fiscal) Year!  

New projects slated for 2015

 

October 1st marks the beginning of a new fiscal year, and local governments have been busy preparing their budgets. On September 17th, the City of Tampa adopted a $876 million budget for fiscal year 2015. It includes some notable capital improvements to rebuild and enhance streets including:
  • Completion of the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa
  • Extension of West River Trail from Cass St to Columbus Dr
  • Bike lanes, sidewalks, lighting and drainage improvements on Lois Ave in Drew Park
  • "Complete street" for Palm Ave in Tampa Heights
  • Cypress St shared use path
  • 2-way conversion of Cass and Tyler Streets in downtown Tampa
  • Advanced Traffic Management System
  • 63 miles of resurfacing city streets

More information is posted on the City's website.

 

Hillsborough's Board of County Commissioners adopted their budget on September 18th, including the 5-year Capital Improvement Program. Major construction projects expected to get underway in FY 2015 include:

  • 8-laning Bruce B Downs Blvd from Bearss Ave to Palms Springs Blvd, including sidewalks and side path
  • 4-laning Bell Shoals Rd from Boyette Rd to Bloomingdale Ave, including new signals, sidewalks and bike lanes
  • Wrapping up the "complete street" project on Fletcher Ave from Nebraska Ave to 50th St, including new crosswalks, pedestrian safety refuge islands in the median, and a new sidewalk on the south side of Fletcher Ave

 

More information on Hillsborough County projects is available here.

 

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Cass & Tyler to become 2-way Streets 

Tampa recently completed its InVision process that sets the blueprint for future development in the Central Business District and adjoining neighborhoods. One project recommended in the InVision plan is to make Cass and Tyler Streets two-way, restoring the street grid in downtown, and transforming Cass into a central spine FOR WALKING AND BICYCLING ACROSS THE CENTER OF THE CITY.

 

Beginning in the Downtown, both east Cass and east Tyler Streets will be modified into two-way streets between Jefferson Street and the existing Cass/Tyler intersection. Improvements include modification of thirteen signalized intersections, adding a barrier-separated two-way bicycle track as well as pavement markings, striping, and resetting existing bricks on Tyler Street.

These investments will position the City as one of the country's most attractive places to open a business, raise a family, and maintain a high quality of life while preserving historic districts and neighborhood character.


For more information visit the InVision Tampa website.

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Site recommended for Westshore Regional Multimodal Center 

With more than 54,000 jobs, the Westshore Business District is one of the largest employment centers in the Southeast United States, attracting commuters from all over our region. Employment projections show that another 7,000 to 26,000 jobs could be added by 2040. The area has also seen significant growth in multi-family housing.


Westshore has been served primarily by automobiles operating on a roadway system that experiences severe congestion at peak hours. To get ahead of this problem and meet future demands, the Florida Department of Transportation is planning a system of express lanes, and transit connections to Westshore from the rest of the Tampa
Bay region. The centerpiece of this plan is a regional multimodal transportation center that would serve as a hub for local and regional buses, taxis, hotel shuttles, and in the future, rail.

FDOT conducted a Project Development & Environment (PD&E) study for the proposed Westshore Regional Multimodal Center (WRMC).  The study identified Site C, the strip of parcels north of I-275 between Trask Street and Manhattan Avenue, as the recommended site for the WRMC. The study determined the configuration, benefits, costs, and impacts of developing and operating a regional multimodal center at this location.  On July 17, 2014, FDOT held a public hearing to present the findings of the study.

 

The WRMC would improve connections between Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, maximize the effectiveness of the transit in both counties, and enhance transportation systems in the entire Tampa Bay region. The impetus for the this study was to help provide answers for related efforts in the Westshore district, including the I-275 at S.R. 60 Interchange design project.

 

In addition to improving the connectivity of the existing and planned transportation modes in the Tampa Bay region, the Westshore Multimodal Center will also help revitalize adjacent areas spurred by the economic growth and commercial, office, and residential development associated with Transit Oriented Development.

For more information, visit the Westshore Multimodal Center website.

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MPO looks at reconfiguration of Columbus Drive

The MPO, IN PARTNERSHIP with the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County, is looking closely at Columbus Drive and 17th/18th/19th Avenues. These corridors are currently one-way pairs through Ybor City and East Tampa. Scheduled for resurfacing soon, local residents and business owners wanted to see if the roads could be transformed during the resurfacing to better meet the needs of the neighborhood.

 

The study looks specifically at the feasibility of returning Columbus Drive and 17th/18th/19th Avenues (from Republica de Cuba to 40th Street) to two-way operations. This could include adding on-street parking and bicycle facilities where possible.

 

In the data-gathering stage, it appeared that a majority of traffic currently on these corridors could be shifted to Columbus Drive without significantly degrading traffic flow. This would allow the already more neighborhood-focused 17th/18th/19th Avenues to improve the environment for walking and cycling with slower traffic and possibly a protected bikeway.

 

 

 

A public open house was held September 17th at the beautiful Academy Prep School on Columbus Drive. The turnout was excellent! Long-time residents, new homeowners, and business owners all came together with a similar passion for their neighborhood and the desire to see it improve even more. The open house set up was an effective way for attendees to share their views. People drew on aerial maps, left sticky notes, and filled out a survey. Their thoughts and concerns will now be compiled and reviewed to get an idea if there is consensus on how to proceed.

 

Recommendations will be developed over the next couple of months and shared with the public before being finalized and presented to the MPO and local governments.  For more information  visit the Columbus Drive Corridor Redesign website.

 

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Port Authority to build road at  

Port Redwing   

Article courtesy of Yvette C Hammett, Tampa Tribune    

The Tampa Port Authority Board on [September 16] paved the way for future industrial and manufacturing development at Port Redwing, approving a bid to build a road on to the peninsula.  Infrastructure to lure businesses to the undeveloped swath just north of the Tampa Electric Big Bend Power Station should be completed within about three years.

 

The $2.4 million bid went to the same firm that built the Gornto Lake Road extension in Brandon recently. QGS Development Inc. has agreed to allocate at least 10 percent of the project's work to area small businesses. The port has an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to use money from its Seaport Investment Program to finance $7.5 million in improvements at Port Redwing. "The entire program includes not only the road, but (security) fencing and next year, bringing rail into the facility and finally, a security gate complex and utilities," said Bruce Laurion, vice president of engineering for Port Tampa Bay.

 

In all, Port Redwing infrastructure development is expected to cost about $15 million. Just last month, the board approved construction of the security fence for the 271-acre parcel. Once the road is built, the port plans to work with CSX to extend railroad tracks for 2.5-3 miles to accommodate business there.

 

"This is all about industrial and manufacturing uses and rail connectivity," said Raul Alfonso, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for the port. "We're looking to get long-term leases" on the property. Alfonso declined to give any specifics on the types of businesses the sites might draw other than to say it may include importing of raw materials, then exporting of finished products.


"We plant these seeds very early," said Port Spokesman Andy Fobes, sometimes a decade or more in advance. Those seeds include letting potential clients know that Port Redwing has a strategic location for import and export, close proximity to South America and long-term growth potential, he said.

 

Port Tampa Bay is the only port in the state that has available land for major expansion and that is a great advantage, Fobes said.

The peninsula, jutting in to Tampa Bay is only partially owned by Port Tampa Bay. The 134 acres on the north side of the peninsula is Hillsborough County's Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve. That property has been in the news recently as plans are in the works for a ferry terminal that would transport South County residents to jobs at MacDill Air Force Base. While there had been some discussion of whether the ferry passengers would use the port road to access the boat, neither the county nor anyone else has approached the port with any such request, Alfonso said.

 

Because the port property will be used for heavy industrial, large trucks would be using the road, which could also be blocked from time to time by trains loading or unloading goods at port businesses, Alfonso said. Whether or not the two uses could coexist is questionable, he said. Former County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, who represents the ferry company, has said that if the terminal is placed on the northwest corner of the Redwing peninsula, a separate road would be constructed for ferry customers.

 

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Parking turned into Parks!

 

Four parking spaces on Ashley Drive between Twiggs and Zack Streets were transformed into an active park on September 19 for National PARK(ing) Day. This is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers, and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.   

 

 

 

Tampa Downtown Partnership, Urban Conga, AIA Florida, USF students, PGT Industries, and the City of Tampa took over these four spaces to promote a more walkable city and express the importance of street life activity.

  • The Urban Conga put together a space that promotes play through music and creativity with a musical bench and other playful instruments
  • Members of the USF jazz band performed along with anyone playing in the musical PARK(ing) space
  • SACD (School of Architecture and Community Design at USF) offered space for people to express and discuss their thoughts on the city of Tampa through art and conversation
  • Other local designers and artists provided two more spots with creative Placemaking through games, art, and design

Urban Conga received funding from AIA Florida and PGT industries for the build out and installation.  Contact Donna Chen at dchen@tampasdowntown.com for more information.

 

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Pasco BOCC increases gas tax  

Article courtesy of Rich Shopes, Tampa Bay Times  

Pasco commissioners on [September 9th] approved increasing the county's gas tax to 12 cents a gallon - highest in the Tampa Bay area. The 5-cent-per-gallon hike puts Pasco's gasoline tax at the most allowed under state law and 5 cents higher than in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and 3 cents higher than in Hernando. County Commissioners, who didn't relish passing the increase, found themselves at a crossroads after a recent spate of new construction and years of budget cuts.

 

Presented with a proposed budget on July 8, they agreed to spend $8 million more on road construction. Only they weren't sure how to fund the increase, through higher property taxes or more gas taxes. County staff prepared a budget with four contingencies - a 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, an $8 million property tax increase, a combination of the two, or no increase.

 

Facing a similar dilemma last year, when more than 100 gas tax opponents packed into the meeting chambers, commissioners backed away from raising the gas tax. This time around, with fewer opponents in attendance, commissioners argued the increase would prove less painful than the other options before them.

 

An analysis by county staff boiled down to this:

 

Raising the gas tax 5 cents a gallon would force small businesses to pay another $250 yearly, based on a five-vehicle fleet. Increasing property taxes by $8 million would have forced them to pay an extra $478 annually. Homeowners, meanwhile, would have been saddled with another $19.92 annually on average under the property tax scenario and $37.50 under the gas tax plan.

 

"I had to think about what was best for the whole county," said Commissioner Henry Wilson, who last year cast the pivotal vote against the gas tax. This year, Wilson is a lame duck; he lost his re-election bid in August. The measure required four of five commissioners' support.

 

Commission Chairman Jack Mariano, the lone dissenter, remained unswayed by arguments that higher property taxes would hurt small businesses more than higher gas taxes, which are spread across the county to all motorists, including visitors and regardless of whether they own property.

 

Commissioners could have settled on a combination of smaller increases to the two gas tax and property taxes but in the end felt that the gas tax option was less onerous for businesses. "We need to find a balance between taxation and level of services," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said. "I feel our responsibility is to fund and maintain our local roads."

 

"To me, this is a more conservative route," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said. "It's a no-brainer."  Of course, not everyone agreed. Daniel Hamm, representing the Pasco Republican Party, said the party is against increasing any taxes, and he objected to the hearing being held during the day instead of at night, when more people could attend.

 

Many others, however, including Jennifer Doerfel of the Tampa Bay Builders Association, spoke in favor of raising the gas tax, noting that without some kind of increase, mobility fees may have to rise, which could have a chilling effect on growth.

 

John Hagen, Director of the Pasco Economic Development Council, agreed, arguing that without some increase in road construction, Pasco will fall behind other counties, which could hurt efforts to attract employers.

 

"When you look at what are the major criteria used to pick a site for a new factory or a new office building, invariably and always highway accessibility is at the top of the list," he said. "Being premier means making tough decisions."

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In this Issue
Draft 2040 Plan open for comments
Imagine 2040 results
Transportation projects
Cass/Tyler 2-way conversion
Westshore Regional Multimodal Ctr
Columbus Drive corridor
Port Redwing road
Parking Day
Pasco gas tax increase

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