Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Elected leaders agree transportation fixes are a priority

TAMPA — This is not supposed to be possible.

But Hillsborough County commissioners sat down with leaders from the county's three cities and its transit agency Wednesday and managed to reach congenial consensus on a broad public policy matter.

Commissioners met with the county's three mayors and chairman of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit for what at first was billed as a transportation summit but what likely will be the first of several meetings of elected leaders. Their task is to identify what the county's transportation priorities should be and, eventually, how to pursue them given that local governments have little spare money.

"You have a whole new attitude," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "You have everyone singing from the same song sheet.

"I think we are ready to have a candid conversation about transportation."

The County Commission has a yearslong reputation for fractious relations with city leaders, particularly those from Tampa. The divisiveness has been driven in part by commissioners who represent suburban residents, some of whom resent their tax money flowing to public projects in Tampa instead of improvements to their own roads and parks.

The division played out three years ago, when county voters soundly rejected a referendum that sought their support of a penny sales tax hike to pay for transportation projects. The centerpiece was a new commuter rail system that many county residents thought would only benefit city dwellers.

At Wednesday's meeting, participants generally agreed that there is a need for an investment in the county's transportation system. They also accepted a premise, driven by the county, that the ultimate priority list should get shaped by projects that promote economic development around the county but in targeted areas where growth is desirable.

While there were no votes, the participants also agreed to begin discussing where to focus future investments and that, after that, what sorts of transportation projects should be pursued. Once that work is done, they'll start talking about how to pay for them.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who has previously said he'd like to see another referendum put to voters in 2014, said he heard a note of urgency from others on the panel, which he welcomes. But at the same time, the discussion should be deliberative, as other participants such as Commission Chairman Ken Hagan emphasized.

"There's no mystery that I want to get it done," said Sharpe, who leaves the commission in 2014 due to term limits, describing what he took from Wednesday's discussion. "But rather than starting with a conversation about how we're going to pay for it, let's determine what it is first."

Bill Varian can be reached at varian@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3387.

Elected leaders agree transportation fixes are a priority 05/22/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 10:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle