Issue: 18         

August 2015    

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The Newsletter of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) & Livable Roadways Committee (LRC)

 

MPO votes to balance regional mobility with local interests in support of economic growth

 

The MPO's annual public hearing to establish funding priorities for the next five years of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) drew a record crowd on Tuesday evening, August 4. More than 360 residents and business representatives attended in person, with another 65 attending via GoToMeeting, to weigh in on a Tampa Bay Express (TBX) being added to the priority list.

 

TBX is a $3 billion investment in the region's transportation infrastructure with 42 miles of interstate improvements including replacement of the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge and two major interchanges in Downtown and Westshore, explained FDOT's Development Director Debbie Hunt. "TBX connects four of the major business districts in our region - the USF Innovation District, Downtown Tampa, Westshore, and Gateway in Pinellas County, supporting economic growth," she added. The proposed express lanes generally will be built in the medians of I-275, I-4, and I-75, and tolls will vary by time of day to manage demand and congestion. FDOT is conducting a study of potential toll revenues, to compare with costs of construction, road maintenance, and potential express bus routes.   

 

Citizen voices heard: TBX to include community benefits

Since I-275 was first constructed, our urban neighborhoods have experienced much revitalization... Progress that many citizens feel could be jeopardized by TBX. For more than two hours, people from ages 11 to 80+ spoke from the heart about what they want for the future of their neighborhoods, historic districts, and the city. Many millennials asked "to drive the train" into the future with alternative transportation modes like light rail, and more, safer walking and biking facilities.

MPO Chair, Commissioner Lesley "Les" Miller could relate. "I was born in Tampa on 18th Avenue... When the interstates came through in the 1960s, there were no public hearings; people couldn't come down and talk. That interstate came down right in front of my wife's mother's home," said Commissioner Miller. "So I understand the anxiety the Tampa Heights and Seminole Heights communities are feeling today, because I know what went through that neighborhood when I was growing up. I also know how important this project is for the future of our region, and to economic development and job creation, and to access our ports and airports."
 
Hillsborough County is expected to grow by about half a million new residents and jobs by 2040, with traffic through the already-congested Downtown Interchange nearly doubling. The MPO Chair expressed the need to "balance the revitalization of our communities and future opportunities to create jobs, foster tourism, and grow as a region." Having passed the gavel, he moved to approve the priority list, including TBX, with conditions for the Florida Department of Transportation as follows:

Work with this community.
Our community representatives and FDOT must come together to enhance the community through this project.
Reevaluate the 20-year-old study.
As part of the reevaluation, FDOT will consider community impact and include robust outreach with respect to the following:

1. Significant social and physical changes in the project area

2. Changes to impact caused by the project

3. Anticipated population and employment growth

4. Land use and comprehensive plans

5. And most importantly, the public, affected communities, and community commitments   

Redesign Florida Avenue and Tampa Street.
Work with the City of Tampa to provide more safe pedestrian, bicycle, and transit opportunities.

"To turn the challenges that come with growth into opportunities for a thriving future, we need many types of transportation choices tied to smart land use planning," said Beth Alden, MPO Executive Director. "We are listening. The citizens have a voice and have been actively involved not only at this public hearing, but at meetings and committees for months," said Ms. Alden. "We look forward to working with the citizens, FDOT, and other planning agencies to make this project a win-win for our community and the entire region."

The MPO voted to support economic growth by balancing regional mobility needs with local neighborhood interests by a vote of 14-1. FDOT will share their progress with the MPO Board in November 2015 and in May 2016. FDOT's tentative work program for FY 2017-21 will be reviewed in November. Public meetings to adopt the 2016/17 - 2020/21 Transportation Improvement Program will be held in May and June of 2016. Learn more about the TIP program, including funding priorities for walking and bicycling. 

Greenways Plan comment deadline extended
 

In our last issue of  Walk Bike News, we announced the

Tampa-Hillsborough Greenways and Trails Plan Update and asked for your ideas via a short survey. This project is ongoing, so you still have time to make suggestions.

 

Sponsored by the MPO in partnership with Hillsborough County, City of Tampa, and others, the study has been updated with many good ideas and suggestions from the GO Hillsborough public meeting participants. The City/County Greenways & Trails Committee members also gave their thoughts, hosting a workshop in May.

 

Next steps include field reviews of the feasibility of constructing these trail segments. Some wish-list trail connections, to be evaluated include:

  • Extending the Town 'N Country Greenway east to serve the Leto/ Egypt Lake area
  • Completing the South Coast Greenway and extending it northward to the Selmon Greenway
  • Exploring routes in Brandon
  • Connecting the Downtown Riverwalk and the Courtney Campbell Trail with a greenway
What's on your wish list? Weigh in or for more information, contact Michele Ogilive, 813/273-3774 x317.

Temple Terrace plans for density, intensity,  

and complete streets
 

Over the past two years, the Planning Commission and the City of Temple Terrace have listened carefully to citizens, property owners, and elected officials all in an effort to form an exciting vision of the future of Temple Terrace. The vision guides the City's Long Range Comprehensive Plan and includes: preserving urban and suburban housing choices, emphasizing more mixed-use urban style development to major corridors and activity centers, and safer streets that promote alternative modes of transportation. These corridors will help form places for major activity centers, and the opportunity to design complete streets will make them safer for all travelers, giving more access by more visitors and residents to the businesses and the beauty that make up Temple Terrace.

 

Activity Centers are the intersections of major multi-modal corridors on the City's Vision Map. The update begins to incentivize redevelopment along multi-modal corridors and within major activity centers as well as promote safer streets and alternative forms of transportation. Proposals for these areas promote redevelopment of non-residential properties into mixed-use developments along multi-modal corridors.

 

Complete Streets are focused on so new development encourages walking, bicycling, and public transportation use, and makes these transportation options safe and convenient. A key component supports the orientation of buildings toward pedestrian and transit infrastructure rather than toward automobile infrastructure. 

 

Multimodal District. Temple Terrace was the first municipality in Florida to establish a multimodal transportation district citywide. This year, the MPO provided the technical support to update the district plan, identifying and estimating the costs of needed improvements to walk, bike, and transit systems. The multimodal district ties together the City's transportation plan with its growth strategy.

 

Review the draft plan. The updated Temple Terrace Comprehensive Plan has been reduced from 700 pages to 300 pages. Entering the public hearing phase on its path to adoption expected in early 2016, the plan will go to a Planning Commission Public Hearing on August 24 and a Temple Terrace City Council Public Hearing on October 20. Comments and feedback can also be provided to Tony LaColla, AICP, 813/273-3774 x350.

    

For information on the Temple Terrace Multimodal District, please contact Gena Torres, 813/273-3774 x357.

Upper Tampa Bay Trail extended
 

Hillsborough County will soon dedicate its latest segment of trail. Originally scheduled for Friday, August 7, the ribbon cutting ceremony has been postponed due to recent heavy rains and flooding. The new segment of trail was made possible by Hillsborough County with the cooperation of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (owner of the Brooker Creek property), and with the assistance of a federal grant prioritized by the MPO.

 

Running along the edge of the scenic Brooker Creek Headwaters in the northwest corner of the county, the new 3-mile trail connects to the Suncoast Parkway Trail at the Lutz Lake Fern Road interchange complete with parking, permanent restrooms, a covered picnic area, and anautomated pay station - the first at a County trailhead. Mostly a twelve-foot-wide asphalt path, portions of the trail are on boardwalk through wetlands.The southern end of the new segment terminates at Van Dyke Road, just east of Gunn Highway.  

 

A final short link, yet to be constructed, will extend further south to the existing Upper Tampa Bay Trail's end at Peterson Road Park. The final link will create a 50+ mile continuous trail, including the existing 7-mile Upper Tampa Bay and the 41-mile Suncoast Trails, and ultimately provide a path to the East Coast via Florida's recently funded Coast-to-Coast Connector Trail.

 

For more information, contact the County's Citizen Engagement office at 813/272-5275.

Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail complete

Photo courtesy of Ray Reyes @ Tampa Tribune 

FDOT celebrated the grand opening of the Pinellas portion of its Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail on June 22nd. With Hillsborough's portion completed in 2013, this scenic new trail along the south side of the causeway now stretches for a continuous 9 breathtaking miles!

 

Learn more about this Pinellas/Hillsborough trail connection with FDOT District 7's Lee Royal. 
Check out how the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail
came to be with FDOT District 7's Lee Royal.

At the east end, the trail connects to the Skyway Park in Town & Country and, by way of another trail alongside the bay and Veteran's Expressway, to Tampa's Cypress Point Park. At the west end, the Causeway Trail provides access to Clearwater and to Safety Harbor by way of Bayshore Boulevard, and eventually will link to the north-south Pinellas Trail and Gulf beaches.

The $23 million project, which includes three pedestrian bridges, won federal Transportation Enhancement program funding and other support from the Florida Department of Transportation after years of advocacy by the Courtney Campbell Scenic Highway advisory group, Westshore Alliance,Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, and the MPO Chairs' Coordinating Committee of West Central Florida, which prepares a regional plan and priorities for major cross-county trails.

Parking is available on the Tampa side of the trail at Ben T. Davis Beach. More info now available through the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Coast hits 10,000 and expands to USF

 

At 4:16 pm on July 4th, Coast Bike Share reached a milestone 10,000 members! To celebrate, Coast organized multiple events for the month of July with History Bike Tampa, Pedals and Pints at Ferg's, and the Blazing Saddles Rolling Scavenger Hunt. Coast also recently rolled out it's newly update smartphone app, Social Bicycles (for both Android and iOS) featuring a smoother, more intuitive interface and faster refreshing.

Coast will soon launch a 100 bike system at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus. Free bike rentals via the Share-A-Bull Bikes program. USF students pay a student green energy fee of $1 per credit hour to assess, plan and reduce energy costs on campus. The green fee, as it's known, will cover the costs that Coast charges its off-campus members in Tampa. Coast Program Director Eric Trull said, "Ultimately, we're working to build our system to encompass the entire bay area, creating a cohesive last mile solution for locals who live in work in multiple cities, the college student population that finds themselves on multiple campuses, and the 14.8 million tourists that visit our region each year. It's important that we offer technology and membership structure that enhances our region, and the travel between our major activity centers."

Congratulations, Coast! It looks like nothing but smooth coasting ahead!

Walk Bike News safety reminder!
 

For more safety tips, view the Polk Transportation Planning Organization's new public service announcements 'Every Life Counts.'
In This Issue
TIP public hearing
Greenways update
Temple Terrace plan update
Upper Tampa Bay Trail
Courtney Campbell Causeway trail
Coast bike share milestones
Safety reminder!