Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Transportation talks coming to Hillsborough

TAMPA — Hillsborough commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to begin discussions with the county's three mayors and other government leaders about future transportation needs.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe rattled off a series of worst-of lists — from Forbes magazine to the GPS service TomTom — ranking Hillsborough near the bottom in terms of congestion. And he argued that it's not just a headache for those who live here but is hampering quality growth and business recruitment.

"We've got a PR issue," Sharpe said. "I know there are folks who say we need to sit tight and wait. I don't think that's a strategy at all."

The vote specifically directed County Administrator Mike Merrill to schedule and convene a transportation summit involving commissioners, the mayors of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, as well as the chairman of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, the county's main transit agency.

Other leaders from planning agencies to the heads of the Tampa Port Authority, Tampa International Airport and Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority likely will be asked to join later.

Merrill described them as the "funders and constructors." They will be urged to discuss what the county's priorities should be to improve transportation. Commissioners have specifically said they want to emphasize transportation projects that spur economic development, create jobs and bring a return on investment.

"There is a correlation between transportation and economic development," commission chairman Ken Hagan said.

Ideally, officials hope to convene the transportation summit within six weeks.

The vote came as dozens of advocates for both addressing transportation and creating other modes of transit urged commissioners to begin taking action and setting deadlines. A handful of speakers, including tea party sympathizers, urged caution when it comes to rail.

The most poignant moment may have been when the head of the Hillsborough County Young Democrats read a statement written jointly with his counterpart from the Hillsborough County Young Republicans.

"Improving Hillsborough's transit system is not a partisan issue," it read. "As young professionals, blue-collar laborers, students and entrepreneurs, we want to live in a community that encourages smart, cost-efficient and systematic growth."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who met with Merrill last week, applauded the direction the county is taking.

"I will be a willing and enthusiastic participant in any discussions," Buckhorn said. "It makes sense to look at this from a comprehensive, countywide perspective."

The talks begin as Pinellas County commissioners lay the groundwork for asking voters there to raise the sales tax in exchange for a reduction in property taxes to pay for new transit, including light rail. Pinellas officials are pushing for a 2014 referendum.

Supporters in Hillsborough similarly pressed commissioners to set a timeline for their own discussion. Merrill said that will come after the county's elected leaders reach a consensus on the direction in which they'd like to head.

Staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3387.

Comments
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

CLEARWATER — A 21-year-old fleeing from deputies on a motorcycle crashed into car while speeding away from a cruiser Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Brown, of Clearwater, was recklessly driving his 2016...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Updated: 4 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They aren’t just up for debate, they...
Updated: 4 hours ago
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Friday’s scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Published: 01/19/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18