TBX and Go Hillsborough: Is Tampa big enough for both?
Ask any politician what’s holding Tampa Bay back from being one of the nation’s premier cities and you’re likely to hear the same answer -- transportation.
It’s the topic that’s dominated board meetings and public outreach for the past year. But it’s also one with multiple facets and, at times, competing interests.
It appears not all of these plans go together smoothly, as reported in this weekend’s story on the relationship between Hillsborough county’s proposed half-cent sales tax referendum and Tampa Bay Express, the state's $3.3 billion plan to add tolled express lanes throughout the bay area.
Hillsborough County's most avid transportation activists argue that many of those who support Go Hillsborough are tied up trying to stop the behemoth express toll lane project from rolling into Tampa.
In short: TBX seems to be sucking the oxygen away from Go Hillsborough.
"A lot of people who are passionate about a more connected urban community are spending a lot of time protesting the existential threat, TBX, instead of focusing on Go Hillsborough," said Kevin Thurman, executive director for transit advocacy group Connect Tampa Bay.
While it remains unclear how the two topics dominating the transportation discussion in the area might affect each other, Thurman said the heightened focus on these projects is elevating the importance of transportation in Tampa Bay.
“I think the good thing is that all of this focus on transportation will continue to keep it the number one issue in the area,” Thurman said. “In the end, it’s great that we’re having all these conversations because that will allow us to be able to actually push forward solutions.”