Monday, April 23, 2018
Transportation

Five Tampa Bay transportation projects in the works

Tampa Bay has long been torn over transportation projects. Many support expanding the region’s options, but voters have rejected attempts to pay for it in Hillsborough County in 2010 and in Pinellas County in 2014.

Then in 2016, the Hillsborough County Commission wouldn’t even give voters the choice and killed a plan to build a transit system and improve the bus network instead of putting it on the ballot.

TAMPA BAY TIMES REPORT: Tampa Bay has one of the worst public transit systems in America. Here’s why. (Feb. 16, 2017)

But there is still some progress being made. There are innovative options being added to existing highways, such as express toll lanes, and even some hyper-local transit options in the works.

Now this list doesn’t include the autonomous shuttle project touted along the Marion Street Transitway. The shuttle wasn’t ready by the end of January and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority had to fire the contractor.

And the controversial plan to add express toll lanes along Interstates 275 and 4 called Tampa Bay Next — previously known as Tampa Bay Express — has been delayed to get public input but is still in the works.

Here are the projects coming online soon, and in the future:

 

 

1. The Tampa Bay region got its very first taste of express toll lanes and managed pricing when the new lanes on the Veterans Expressway opened in December.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Express lanes set to open on Veterans. They’re free — for now.

The state chose a slow rollout, so for now the extra dedicated lane is free to use. But when construction is done, commuters will be able to pay if they want to bypass traffic using this new 9-mile express lane.

 

 

2. There’s a circulator coming to the University of South Florida area.

A public-private partnership plans to roll out a 7-mile circulator system that would connect the university, medical hubs and Busch Gardens. It would help medical workers, students and residents of some of Tampa’s poorest neighborhoods get around one of the worst traffic headaches in the bay.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Circulator system could be running in USF Tampa area by summer

But the USF area circulator is also important because it’s an example of a hyper-local system that could one day connect to a larger regional transit system.

 

 

3. Pinellas County officials one day hope to build a bus rapid transit system connecting downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches.

The project is called the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit system. The buses would run up and down First Avenues N and S in dedicated lanes, which means less stops and a faster commute to the beach and back.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Plan envisions ‘rapid’ bus trips from St. Pete to beaches. But will Trump fund it?

The plan calls for the rapid buses to run every 15 minutes along the 11-mile route, making 17 stops along the way. But Pinellas will need federal dollars to make it happen, so it has to wait and see if those funds will survive cutbacks proposed by the Trump White House.

 

 

4. Consultants believe Tampa Bay’s best bet for a regional transit system is building a 41-mile bus rapid transit system from St. Petersburg to Wesley Chapel.

The surprise option has replaced light rail as the top transit priority for a group of regional business and political leaders. In a region that has struggled to get voters to pay for light rail, those leaders reason, it might be more realistic for the region to pursue a less expensive BRT system.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa Bay’s transit future: Light rail’s out. Rapid buses are in.

A consultant said that regional BRT could be built within five years from now. But there’s a lot of political and financial hurdles to clear before the region will see its first regional mass transit system built.

 

 

5. The original span of the Howard Frankland Bridge — the current northbound span, built in 1960 — needs to be replaced. The state’s plans to replace it, though, mean re-imaging the entire bridge.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: New 2024 Howard Frankland plan: 8-lane bridge with bike path

When the new span opens in its targeted completion date of 2024, it will have four lanes of traffic and two express toll lanes going in each direction. The toll prices will fluctuate based on demand, but those lanes could also be used to accommodate bus rapid transit and even self-driving vehicles.

The state even wants to build a bike and pedestrian trail on the new bridge.

Comments
Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Those who use mass transit across the Tampa Bay area can ride for free on Sunday.To celebrate Earth Day, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be offering free rides on Su...
Published: 04/19/18
She calmly landed the Southwest flight and broke barriers as a fighter pilot

She calmly landed the Southwest flight and broke barriers as a fighter pilot

The pilot’s voice was calm yet focused as her plane descended with 149 people on board."Southwest 1380, we’re single engine," Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, said. "We have part of the aircraft missing so we’re going to n...
Published: 04/18/18
Carlton: Thanks, Gov. Scott, for the dreaded trip across Interstate 4

Carlton: Thanks, Gov. Scott, for the dreaded trip across Interstate 4

The other day I had to go to Orlando from Tampa on Interstate 4, which has to be one of the most disliked highways in Florida. And I say this as someone who learned to drive on Miami’s I-95.It turned out to be the same root canal of a trip we’ve come...
Published: 04/18/18
NTSB: Blown Southwest jet engine showed ‘metal fatigue’

NTSB: Blown Southwest jet engine showed ‘metal fatigue’

PHILADELPHIA — A preliminary examination of the blown jet engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that set off a terrifying chain of events and left a businesswoman hanging half outside a shattered window showed evidence of "metal fatigue," according ...
Published: 04/18/18
Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

TEMPLE TERRACE — If all goes as planned on Monday (April 23), at least 100 people will line the sides of one of the most dangerous stretches in Hillsborough County — 56th Street between Sligh Avenue and Busch Boulevard — in an effort to get motorists...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Big dig’s big cost: Pasco tunnel idea carries $550 million price tag

Big dig’s big cost: Pasco tunnel idea carries $550 million price tag

NEW PORT RICHEY — Construction costs to tunnel under U.S. 41 in central Pasco could top a half-billion dollars, four times the projected price of building elevated lanes above the highway’s intersection with State Road 54.The cost estimate, said Comm...
Published: 04/17/18
Dr. Delay: How to find out if you qualify for a speed hump; updates on the Pinellas Bayway

Dr. Delay: How to find out if you qualify for a speed hump; updates on the Pinellas Bayway

I live in St. Pete and would like to know how I could go about getting a speed hump installed on my street. Where do I start?Manuel Reyes, St. PetersburgThe place to start would be by contacting the St. Petersburg Neighborhood Transportation Manager,...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
He got fed up with Miami traffic, so now he commutes with dolphins and pelicans

He got fed up with Miami traffic, so now he commutes with dolphins and pelicans

Parker Lake got sick of the rat race. Sick of working in a cubicle. Sick of commuting on Miami’s mean streets. Sick of being overweight from sitting at a desk or in traffic jams.So Lake quit his unfulfilling job, sold his car and moved to a house on ...
Published: 04/09/18
A sixth person killed by the high-speed Brightline train in Florida

A sixth person killed by the high-speed Brightline train in Florida

The Brightline train fatally struck a man Sunday, bringing the total killed by the train to six people since it began test runs last year.The Delray Beach Police Department announced on Twitter that a pedestrian was hit Sunday by a northbound Brightl...
Published: 04/09/18
Dr. Delay: Will the lights at 87th Avenue N and Fourth Street cause extra congestion?

Dr. Delay: Will the lights at 87th Avenue N and Fourth Street cause extra congestion?

Massive new street signals were erected at the intersection of 87th Avenue N. and Fourth Street, just four blocks north from the light-controlled intersection at 83rd Avenue N. At the same time a new WaWa store/gas station is being constructed near 8...
Updated one month ago