Issue 21         


Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) eNews 

July 2016  


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Executive Director message
Beth Alden_ AICP Twenty years ago, planners floated the idea of a greenway trail connecting Tampa's central neighborhoods with parks along the Hillsborough River. The proposal was shelved as a result of neighborhood opposition. The concern I remember hearing was a fear of outsiders cutting through residential areas, on two wheels.
Today, the story could not be more different. In partnership with the City of Tampa, the MPO is just wrapping up a feasibility and phasing study  for the central Tampa greenway loop known sometimes as the "Green Artery."  Next steps include sidepath and crosswalk construction when roads are repaved, and grant applications for other segments. (Check out Coast Bikeshare's Facebook post on our May 24 Open House event.)

This turn-around happened because of the tireless advocacy of a handful of residents, who encouraged their neighbors to think outside the box. The thousands of people who live in Tampa's central neighborhoods deserve a safe place to walk and bike. Overcoming the fear of change took a concerted grassroots effort around a vision of something better. And today that vision is starting to be realized.
Zoom out to a county with fresh civic rifts over heavily debated decisions on highway widening, tolls, taxes, and transit. We can't stop change from coming - our population is growing rapidly, and becoming more diverse and income-disparate; meanwhile the world's economy, climate and technology systems are rapidly shifting around us. What we *can* change is how we respond.  Where we go next as a community will depend on our ability to set aside our anxieties and find common ground. 
I hope we can agree that we have a lot of things that need to be fixed - everything from broken sidewalks and ancient traffic signals to clogged highways, discontinuous trails, and buses that stop running at 8pm. Focusing on one piece of the puzzle doesn't mean the other pieces will never happen. As a community, we have to look at a wide variety of strategies; there is no single solution to our many challenges. There are huge opportunities if we come together to achieve something better than the current trend. But make no mistake - we will get nowhere if we don't find a way to work together. If the Green Artery project taught us anything, it's that even great plans can take time to come to fruition... and that we can't make plans without you.

Beth Alden
Hillsborough MPO Executive Director

The community weighs in on the Perimeter Trail

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On the road to safe streets     
Vison Zero logo
On June 28, MPO Policy Committee members Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, Commissioner Sandra Murman, Wallace Bowers, and Trent Green hosted a roundtable discussion with community leaders on road safety. Traffic deaths in Hillsborough County averaged 167 per year over the last five years -- about 33 deaths per year more than the average county.

An overview of the grassroots Vision Zero movement, now in cities across the nation to bring death rates down, was given by guest speaker Richard Retting, an eighteen-year veteran of the national Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and former Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Safety with the New York City Department of Transportation. "Vision Zero is traffic safety on steroids," said Mr. Retting, acknowledging the ongoing work of safety engineers in city and county public works departments and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Richard Retting addresses the Vision Zero task force
As he described, many people in past decades died when their vehicles ran off the side of the road. As a society we could have just said they should have been paying better attention. But instead we asked the question, does a lapse in judgment have to be fatal? And we built guardrails, changed highway designs and required seatbelts, and now people walk away from such crashes.

"Traffic deaths are preventable," said Mr. Retting, as he described the walk/bike crash problem we still haven't solved. "This isn't just about individual drivers. We get what we build for." His slide stating "Traffic violence is a public health crisis" caught the eye of Dr. Leslene Gordon with the Florida Department of Health. Dr. Gordon's team has helped neighborhoods conduct walkability audits of local roads.
"Engaging our community members is so important," she told the group, if we are to find solutions that make a difference in peoples' day-to-day lives.

Other suggestions during the roundtable discussion included:
  • Spread the word that speed is a killer
  • Create a cultural awareness shift as happened with Driving Under the Influence
  • Seek partnerships with MADD, AARP, schools & parents, assisted living facilities, churches, and cultural organizations to reach people where they are
  • Consistent, 24/7 enforcement of traffic laws, using cameras that can be out there when a patrol officer cannot
  • Focus on repeat crash areas and repeat offenders, using data to see if the worst 20% is responsible for 80% of problems
  • Use creative strategies to raise awareness, including social media, public art, storytelling
  • Take advantage of new flexibility in road design rules, and work with local professional groups like ASHE and ITE to build expertise among practicing engineers
  • Understand community needs first

Vision Zero came to the forefront of transportation planning locally after a record breaking number of pedestrian deaths in 2015 inspired the formation of Walk Bike Tampa. This group of committed
advocates urged Tampa City Council, the Hillsborough County Commission, and the School Board to adopt resolutions in support of Vision Zero. A Vision Zero policy establishes a goal of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero, typically by a target date. The Hillsborough MPO agreed to sponsor a Vision Zero Action Plan in support of this local effort.    
Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione addresses the roundtable
Vision Zero is  an  approach  to  road  safety  that  began  in Sweden and has been implemented in that country since 1997. Many U.S. cities have adopted Vision Zero, including New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Austin, and San Diego. At the core of the worldwide Vision Zero movement is the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable - in other words, that these aren't "accidents," but the result of poor behaviors combined with unforgiving roadway designs. The resulting philosophy is to approach the problem from multiple angles, including targeted education and data-driven enforcement, as well as street designs that emphasize safety, predictability, and the potential for human error.

The Hillsborough MPO is a leader and partner with other local agencies in addressing and mitigating crash rates. Safety is a top priority of the MPO's Imagine 2040 Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program, and is specifically called out as a component of the MPO's federally-required Congestion Management Process, reframed here as the Congestion Management/ Crash Mitigation Process.

Last winter, the MPO and its partners sponsored a high school student walk/bike safety video contest to raise awareness among young people of how critically important it is to use crosswalks, bike on the right side, stop at stop signs and avoid distractions. At high schools around the county, 78 students prepared 32 video clips, winners were selected by a Hillsborough Community College media class and announced at the MPO Board, School Board, and Hillsborough County Commission. the videos have been aired by HTV,, Baycare Safe Kids, and on morning shows at schools around the county. 

The MPO sends a big thank you to community leaders for their ideas, with a shout-out to Baycare, Cigar City Brewing, NAACP, the Downtown Partnership, the Westshore Alliance, the Innovation Alliance, the Sheriff's Office, and Tampa Police, Hillsborough County, City of Tampa, and the Florida Departments of Transportation and Health.

The second Vision Zero workshop of four will be held on Tuesday, September 27th, at 9:00 am at the USF Connect Building Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd. Tampa. Contact Gena Torres if you'd like to be part of the coalition, and stay tuned!

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Five-Year Improvement Program includes TBX, with caveats
The MPO June 22nd TIP Public Hearing
On June 22nd, the MPO Board held what was probably one of the largest and most well attended public hearings in its history. Hundreds of involved and engaged citizens came to voice their concerns for and against projects in the Transportation Improvement Program, including Tampa Bay Express (TBX). The TBX project will expand portions of I-275 and I-4, creating new express toll lanes through Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa, making connections to Pasco, Polk, and Pinellas Counties. TBX includes rebuilding the Downtown and Westshore Interchanges as well as the Howard Frankland Bridge, along with other improvements. With 185 speakers and hundreds of attendees, public comments went well into the following morning with each speaker having three minutes to express their view. All board members stayed to hear everyone, and after careful consideration voted 12 to 4 to approve the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for fiscal years 2017 to 2021 with the following conditions on inclusion of TBX, which is still at the early stages of development:

  • A structure of continued communication and feedback created whereby officials from FDOT regularly update the board concerning TBX, answer questions, and provide updates on mitigation efforts, community engagement, and status of the Project Development and Environment Study (PD&E)
  • A presentation from FDOT on the Re-evaluation Study to the MPO prior to a Public Hearing in Spring 2017 to include considerations and commitments that FDOT is prepared to make, including toll lanes review, design elements, and formation of a community work group, and that the document will remain open after the public hearing for a 14-day comment period to be followed by FDOT's assessment of the public comments and input from the MPO, then finalizing the document before it is submitted for approval
  • Additional information be provided to the MPO Board for informed decisions in future years, including:
    • A final study and report on human impacts and how to pay for replacing them, including a map showing parcels of all homes, apartments, and businesses, noting those that are considered affordable housing, that are affected by the project
    • A final neighborhood mitigation plan for displaced residents and businesses, including design elements
    • Completed environmental impact studies for each segment, including  the I-275/I-4 PD&E re-evaluation study
    • Traffic and revenue studies that would analyze and provide justification for toll lanes
    • Report on the FDOT-sponsored premium transit study conducted by HART, to include consideration of the CSX-owned rail corridors
    • Status updates on the Federal Civil Rights investigation of the TBX project
The Board also requested FDOT provide information on the losses to the City of Tampa in ad valorem tax revenue using FDOT's most recent right-of-way acquisition map as well as the costs of operations and maintenance of any community impact mitigation treatments associated with the TBX project, and the impact to air quality resulting from TBX prior to any additional MPO Board vote on funding for TBX segments 5, 6, 7, and 8. The approved TIP includes:

  • Segment 4: I-275/SR60 (Westshore) Interchange: ROW and Engineering throughout the 5 years, $327M
  • Segment 7: I-275 Express Lanes from N of Busch to N of MLK, $67M Design Build in FY2021
  • Segment 8: I-4 Express Lanes, Selmon Connector to CR579/Mango Rd, $235M Design Build in FY2021
  • Segment 6: I-275/I-4 (Downtown) Interchange:
    • FY2017: $493,000 for ROW, $5,000 for design
    • FY2021: $58 million for design

The TIP is the five-year work program identifying project funding and phases in the first five years of the MPO's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The TIP includes $1.8 billion in funding, including roadway resurfacing, bridge maintenance, walk/bike improvements, intersection and signal improvements, bus replacement, and roadway capacity improvements.  Project highlights include:

-  Resurface Hillsborough Ave from Central Ave to 56th St - 2018
-  HART Replacement Buses - $24M, 2017 thru 2021
-  Collins St Complete Street - Construction added for 2018
-  Walk/Bike Improvements - Columbus Dr, Rome Ave, 46th St,
   Bayshore Blvd, and Willow Ave

-  Florida Ave intersection improvements at Bird St and Waters Ave -
   construction added to 2018

-  Dale Mabry Advanced Traffic Management System, $3.6M - 2018
-  Tampa Advanced Traffic Management System, $37.6M for
    construction 2017-2020

-  HART's Airport/Kennedy Blvd MetroRapid PD&E, $2.5M - 2018
-  Apollo Beach Blvd Extension from US41 to Paseo al Mar - 2021
-  HART Premium Transit Feasibility Study -  $1.5M
-  US92 Design Phases - US301 to CR579/Mango Rd and
   Park to Polk County Line

For more information, please visit our TIP webpage or contact Sarah McKinley, 813/273-3774 x382. 

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One region. One priority list.
With the merger of the West Central Florida MPO Chairs' Coordinating Committee (CCC) into the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA), the process of setting priorities for regionally-significant projects is a little different this year. There are a handful of grant programs that focus on regionally significant projects:
  • FDOT's Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP), a 50/50 state/local matching grant to add capacity on regional highway and transit facilities;
  • Florida's new SUNTrail Program, which seeks to connect major off-road trails into long corridors that cross the state;
  • FHWA's Transportation Alternatives program, which is divided into funds for specific metro areas and funds that can be spent anywhere in the state.
Every year, each MPO solicits grant applications from local governments in its area, then the projects are scored and the regional priority list is updated. 
This summer, for the first time, the MPOs will ask the TBARTA Board also to approve the priorities for TRIP and Regional Trails projects. And for the first time, the TBARTA Board will formally consider the CCC's review of its own major regional initiatives list which tends to focus on bigger-ticket items that require discretionary dollars and/or legislative earmarks.
This year's TRIP and Regional Trails priority projects from Hillsborough include:
  • The Regional Farebox program led by HART to install seamless farecard technology on all the region's buses;
  • On-ramp improvements at the I-75/ Big Bend Road (CR672) Interchange;
  • A project development & environment study for the proposed Tampa Bypass Canal trail;
  • Construction of a portion of the South Coast Greenway in the Ruskin area;
  • Construction of a walk/bike bridge over the Palm River as part of the Maydell Bridge reconstruction.
Past improvements in our area that were made possible by these grants include the widening of Bruce B Downs Blvd, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail, and the Dale Mabry Highway Advanced Traffic Management System in the Carrollwood/ Northdale area (funded but not yet implemented).

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Expressway Authority Reaching Out
Rendering of elevated Gandy Blvd.
The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority's (THEA) Selmon Extension is a 1.6-mile two lane tollway, located in the median of Gandy Boulevard. This enhancement will give local residents and regional travelers a choice of using Gandy Boulevard for local destinations or using the Selmon Extension for a direct connection (Eastbound) to the Selmon Expressway or Dale Mabry (Westbound) to the Gandy Bridge. The facility will be designed to maintain current access and visibility to businesses. The toll lane is anticipated to be 30 ft. high, double the height of typical urban bridges, in order to keep sight lines to businesses and roadways on both sides of Gandy Boulevard. The Extension is also anticipated to increase capacity through the corridor by at least 35%. 
The Gandy Bridge and corridor is one of only three evacuation routes out of Pinellas County, where many Hillsborough workers live and recreate. This area was identified as a vulnerable facility in the MPO's 2014 Surface Transportation Vulnerability Assessment Pilot Project.  The MPO has recently followed up on the Pilot with a study of adaptation strategies to make the western extension (Gandy Blvd area) of the Selmon Connector more resilient to flooding. These strategies will  be considered for the Extension Project.
THEA is actively reaching out to all the businesses and asking them to please take a few minutes to complete a  survey, so they can better understand the businesses' needs during the planning phases of the project. The more information they have about each businesses' peak hours and delivery times, etc., the less impact to those businesses during construction. On June 9, 2016, THEA sent a postcard to all of the Gandy business and property owners and a second reminder about the survey  was mailed on Monday, June 20th. 

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Chamber adopts US 301 beautification
This beautifully landscaped median is a county road but maintained by the community
Members of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce have come together to maintain the crepe myrtles that help define their downtown along US 301. Both residents and commuters through this stretch enjoy these street trees blooming in the medians between Progress Boulevard/ Bloomingdale Avenue and Gibsonton Drive/ Boyette Road.  
Why did they do that? The Florida Department of Transportation does not maintain landscaping beyond sod along state roadways, anything "extra" has to be maintained by the local jurisdiction or risk being removed for lack of maintenance. In this case the local jurisdiction is unincorporated Hillsborough County and its public works department has already stretched their maintenance dollars thin trying to contain potholes. To go above and beyond in the maintenance department and protect these iconic crepe myrtles, it helps to have a local group of residents or businesses sponsor a stretch of road.
The MPO's Livable Roadways Committee was initially created by a group of citizens that understood the many benefits of street trees, this is echoed by professional organizations:

"Trees can stimulate economic development, attracting new business and tourism. Commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers, apartments rent more quickly, tenants stay longer, and space in a wooded setting is more valuable to sell or rent." The Arbor Day Foundation

"Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property's value. The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams." USDA Forest Service

"In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension." Dr. Roger S. Ulrich Texas A&M University

The LRC congratulates and thanks these generous local businesses: All Family Law Group; Duffey Tree Care; Frosty's Air Conditioning; KB Home Tampa; Serenity Meadows Memorial Park; and the Mosaic Company for stepping up to make their community more valuable and beautiful!

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Database update important link to Bike/Pedestrian Safety

With the Tampa Bay region recognized as one of the most deadly areas for pedestrians and cyclists, the Hillsborough MPO is taking steps to change that.

One such project underway is updating the pedestrian and bicycle database. The database is an inventory of currently existing infrastructure that caters to pedestrians and cyclists. For instance, it identifies whether a road facility has bike lanes or not, the prevalence of parallel parking,  the width of any existing sidewalks, and a dozen other roadway features. With this data the MPO will be able to determine the level of service provided to pedestrians and cyclists on every road in the county.

The database will help to identify missing links in the network and sites for new investment to create a safer, more connected network. This project changes the way planners and engineers think about pedestrians and bikes and gives them higher priority in the planning process.

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Florida Scenic Highways is celebrating 20 years!

Florida Scenic Highways is celebrating 20 Years of Real Places and Real Stories. Their social media sites are featuring opportunities to learn about our byways and featured events throughout 2016. For a jump start on byway touring ideas, see their Scenic Highway Tour Highlights!

There is also an opportunity for photographers to enter the Florida Scenic Highways Photo Contest featuring four different themes of Wildlife, Natural Beauty, Recreation, and Byway Events. Get more information about the photo contest.

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In this Issue
Exec Dir message
Vision Zero
TIP approved
Regional priorities
Selmon Gandy extension
US 301 beautification
Database update
Florida Scenic Highways
Upcoming Meetings
July MPO Board
& Committee
MPO Board :
601 E Kennedy Blvd, Tampa
County Center, 2nd Floor

 Plan Hillsborough Room
County Center, 18th Floor

Date       Meeting 

NO  July MPO Board Mtg 

Jul 13    CAC 9:00 AM

Jul 13    BPAC - 6:00 PM

Jul 14   ITS - 1:30 PM

Jul 15   CCC - 10:00 AM

Jul 18   TAC - 1:30 PM

Jul 20   LRC - 9:00 AM

Jul 26   Policy - 9:00 AM

Jul 27   STWG - 3:00 PM  




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