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Largo reflects on its place in Tampa Bay mass transit future

As Tampa Bay's mass transit future is being discussed across the region, Largo officials have been pondering: Where do we fit in?

At a transportation luncheon hosted by the Largo-Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, city community development director Carol Stricklin posed the hopeful possibilities, and how the city is trying to make them so.

One of the more pressing precursors to the city finding its place in the grand scheme of a regional mass-transit network, Stricklin said, is being "transit ready."

"Largo's certainly is doing its part to make that a reality," she said.

A part of the city's "Moving Largo" transportation initiative to improve area transit, and improve its compatibility with things like light rail and rapid transit buses, includes a shift in urban design away from car-centric planning.

"We're changing roads so they do more than move traffic, but better serve pedestrians and businesses," Stricklin said. "We could certainly classify it as transportation-oriented development."

The Community Streets portion of Largo's strategic plan calls for a network of byways throughout the city to connect local destinations by pedestrian and bicycle-friendly means.

"Looking at ways to get people to shopping, the park, without using cars," Stricklin said.

Tom Morrissette, president of the chamber, said the city's plans are robust.

"It's a very ambitious plan," he said.

Another speaker at the luncheon, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority executive director Bob Clifford, said in order to improve the region's transportation, which includes some of the worst commuter traffic in the nation, according to Forbes magazine, cities need to be making steps like Largo.

"We don't have the money or ability to build more lanes," Clifford said.

One of the obstacles in trying to develop a mass transit system now, said County Commissioner Karen Seel, another speaker at the luncheon, is that "we're unfortunate in that we're in terrible economic times."

But she was optimistic that progress could be made through communication and collaboration between cities, counties and the transportation authority.

"We will have somebody from Largo to be the go-to person for updates," Seel said.

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or dtao@sptimes.com.

Largo reflects on its place in Tampa Bay mass transit future 04/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 9:04pm]
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