Issue 16     


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

April 2015  


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Imagine 2040 receives top honors at the Future of the Region Awards! 

On March 27, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) held its 23rd Annual Future of the Region Awards program, recognizing outstanding achievements and contributions benefiting the regional community. Imagine Hillsborough 2040 was pleased to receive two top honors - First Place in the Public Education category and the One Bay Award. Imagine 2040, a partnership between the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Planning Commission, garnered the greatest amount of public participation ever achieved by these organizations.  


Read more


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Resiliency Plan hits the airwaves 


County Commissioner Les Miller, Chair of the Hillsborough MPO and the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC), recently discussed the importance of preparing our roads and transit for extreme weather events on the award winning television series, Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr. The program will air on the Discovery Channel in May 2015 and on FOX Business in June/July 2015. Hillsborough County transportation infrastructure consists of over 4100 miles of roads, Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay, and U.S. Central Command at MacDill AFB. Many of these assets are in flood prone areas and may be more vulnerable with future sea level changes. 


The MPO's pilot study focused on the year 2040, estimated that the storm surge associated with a Category 3 Hurricane could cause catastrophic disruption to transportation throughout the region, resulting in losses of over $100 million in Gross Regional Product and over 2 million lost work hours per week, for up to 8 weeks. Keeping these assets functioning is important to maintaining the quality of life for our residents and to the safety and economic vitality of the region. Preservation strategies have now been incorporated into the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Funded with a special grant from Federal Highway Administration, the MPO study was one of many efforts underway in the Tampa Bay area. The Hillsborough County EPC and Local Mitigation Strategy Working Group, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Water, Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, One Bay Resilient Community's Work Group and US Department of Homeland Security are also working together to identify, address, and mitigate a variety of potential hazards that could affect the county's residents and businesses. Tune in to hear Commissioner Miller discuss more about mitigation efforts related to resiliency and extreme weather. For more information, contact Allison Yeh at or 813/273-3774 x351.


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Construction update:

I-275 and Veterans Expressway 

Commuters struggling with seemingly never-ending construction got a break late last month when the Florida Department of Transportation opened three new lanes on I-275 between downtown Tampa and Westshore Boulevard. The new southbound lanes match the northbound lanes that were reconstructed in 2010 and complete a major part of widening I-275 from SR 60 (Memorial Hwy) to the Hillsborough River. The new lanes reduce the curves and are flatter to reduce the "roller coaster effect." As part of the project, all exit and entrance ramps between downtown and Westshore reverted back to the right side of the road. Taken together, the new lanes should allow for safer and faster travel between two of the region's major employment hubs.


The $217 million project will eventually add a fourth lane in the southbound direction and is expected to be completed by late next year. It also provides a wide median that could accommodate express lanes and even fixed-guideway transit in the long term. Speaking to the Tampa Bay Times, MPO Executive Director Beth Alden compared the project to I-4, which also has a wide median for future transit use. "I-275 down to Westshore is now undergoing that same transformation," she said. "What it does is open the doors to some possibilities for these corridors in the future."


Also making progress is the Veterans Expressway expansion project, removing the toll plazas and converting the expressway to an all-electronic toll collection system enabling payment without stopping. Drivers will use Sunpass or toll-by-plate. The $266 million project began in 2013 and will also add express lanes the median. The express lanes will use higher toll levels in the peak period to keep traffic moving and bypass congestion. It is being built in stages:

  • New ramps at Linebaugh Ave are nearly complete, with southbound ramps due to open this month and northbound ramps opening this summer
  • Widening between Wilsky Rd and Gunn Hwy expected to be done this summer
  • All-electronic tolling expected to be enacted in June
  • Gunn Hwy southbound ramp is underway, with completion expected late 2015
  • Widening from Memorial Hwy to Barry Rd is underway, with completion expected by mid-2016
  • Barry Rd to Linebaugh Ave is underway, with completion due in early 2016
  • Widening from Gunn Hwy to Sugarwood Plaza is getting started and expected to wrap up later in 2016
  • Widening from Sugarwood Plaza to Van Dyke Rd is getting underway, with completion expected by late 2017

For more information, contact Rich Clarendon at 813/273-3774 x368.


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Gunn / Linebaugh intersection improvements

The intersection is less than 1 mile northwest 
of the Dale Mabry/Busch Blvd overpass. 

The Florida Department of Transportation has proposed design improvements to the intersection of Gunn Highway & Linebaugh Avenue include changes that are needed to reduce vehicle delay, improve safety, and reduce accident occurrences. The project cost is estimated to be $1.5 million. The design improvements include: 

  • removal of the westbound left turn lane
  • addition of a westbound right turn lane
  • addition of a northbound left turn lane
  • addition of an eastbound right turn lane
  • extending the existing southbound left turn lane

For more information, view the Hillsborough TIP tool or contact Joe Price at or 813/273-3774 x362.  


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More intersection improvements & projects funded by County
At its April 1st meeting, the Board of County Commissioners allocated funding from property tax capital reserve funds and from impact fees paid by developers to support transportation improvements needed near their developments. Intersection improvements include:
  • Bloomingdale Ave & Culbreath Rd
  • Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd & Williams Rd
  • Hillsborough Ave & Webb Rd
  • Lakeshore Dr & Wilcox Rd
  • Lithia-Pinecrest Rd - Durant Rd - Lumsden Rd
  • SR 60 & Dover Rd

Read more about these improvements and other projects funded including road-widening on Bell Shoals Rd and Bruce B Downs Blvd, rehabilitation of the Columbus Drive Bridge, and demolition of the Friendship TrailBridge at


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Everything you wanted to know about traffic but were afraid to ask!

Did you know that the Hillsborough MPO routinely collects traffic counts for most major roads in Hillsborough County and its cities? Traffic volumes frequently come into play when questions come up about congestion levels and the impact of future development. They're also fundamental to forecasting future conditions because predictive "travel demand" models are based in part on existing traffic.


The MPO has compiled traffic counts for many years, drawing on state and local traffic counting programs. More recently, the MPO commissioned its own traffic counts for selected local roads. We have pulled all of these together and made them available in a report now available on the MPO website.

For more information contact Rich Clarendon at 813/273-3774 x368 or

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County renames boulevard to recognize Tampa visionary


At an unveiling ceremony on March 20, 2015, County Commission Chair Sandy Murman posed with the family of the late Al Austin in front of a sign designating two blocks of a county road as Alfred S. Austin Boulevard. The two blocks of Westshore Boulevard between Cypress and Laurel Streets run through the heart of a thriving business district envisioned and championed by Austin's real estate developments. Some of his buildings provide a backdrop to the sign now bearing his name. "He was a true community leader," said Westshore Alliance Executive Director Ron Rotella, noting Austin's public service accomplishments, such as establishing the Westshore development-of-regional-impact approvals, working to remove MacDill AFB from the Pentagon's base closure list, and many years of leadership on the Aviation Authority board of directors. Austin family representative Nelson Guillardo added, "Tampa International Airport was like the Emerald City in the Land of Oz [to Austin], so Westshore Boulevard is like the Yellow Brick Road."


Watch the HTV news brief on Historic Alfred S. Austin Boulevard
Watch the HTV news brief on the Alfred S Austin Boulevard

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FDOT to study widening US 301 


Recently, an MPO committee provided review comments to the Florida Department of Transportation  (FDOT) for a roadway widening in north Hillsborough County on US 301. The FDOT is conducting a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study to evaluate the expansion of a 13.8 mile segment of US 301 from its current two-lane undivided configuration to a divided roadway facility with paved shoulders, sidewalks/ shared use paths in each direction, pedestrian features, and drainage improvements. The project is from Fowler Avenue to the proposed SR 56 (Pasco). For more information contact Stephanie Pierce at 813/975-6445 or


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FDOT State Infrastructure Bank accepting applications 

FDOT Centennial logo


The Florida Department of Transportation has opened its cycle for applications to the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) for Fiscal Year 2016/17. The SIB can provide loans and other assistance to public and private entities with production-ready projects eligible under federal and state law.

Visit FDOT's web site, for detailed information on the SIB process.

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The future of "connected" roadways


What if your "smart car" could warn you of a weather or traffic delay on the roadway ahead and propose an alternate route? Connected cars might be making an appearance sooner than you think. Technology applications with potential benefits for roadway capacity and safety are evolving at a rapid pace.


The Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is pursuing a USDOT grant for a pilot connected vehicle program. THEA is coordinating with HART, City of Tampa and the private sector on this project. The USDOT connected vehicle program is a multimodal initiative that aims to enable safe, wireless communications among vehicles, the infrastructure, and personal communications devices (phones). Connected vehicle wireless technology has the potential to make traveling safer, smarter, and greener. At the March board meeting the MPO approved sending THEA a letter of support for their grant application with the USDOT.


The MPO has been learning about technology that can turn video feeds from existing traffic and security cameras into data that can be used to better synchronize traffic lights. The traffic data can be used by delivery drivers to reroute around congested intersections, and allow navigation providers instant broadcast of conditions to travelers allowing them to avoid traffic congestion. The real-time information can help city planners better design intersections and efficiently widen lanes to ease traffic flow. Coordinated traffic lights mean cars don't have to come to a complete stop, idle, and waste gas. Additionally, autonomous vehicles are growing more real by the day, this technology would also facilitate deployment of fully or partially automated vehicles.


Read more about the grant being sought to develop the Tampa Bay area automated roadway system at


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ePublications & eNews from our agency are always associated with an email address ending in:

In this Issue
Imagine 2040 awarded
Resiliency Plan hits the airwaves
Construction Update
Gunn/Linebaugh improved
More projects funded by County
The FYI on traffic
Alfred S Austin Blvd
US 301 to be widened
SIB accepting applications
"Connected" roadways

Upcoming Meetings & Events 

ITS Committee
April 9, 2015
MPO Board Meeting
April 14, 2015

MPO TAC Committee
April 20, 2015 

Full MPO calendar   




Meeting schedule 






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