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Editorial: Speak up on North Pinellas transportation issues

This week North Pinellas residents will have a chance to give their input on some important future transportation issues. Since traffic congestion is usually the No. 1 complaint of north county residents, it is time to show up and speak your piece.

From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, you can share your thoughts about a Pinellas County proposal to widen and improve Sunset Point Road from its western terminus at Edgewater Drive to Keene Road. The meeting will be at Kings Highway Elementary School, 1715 Kings Highway, Clearwater.

Final designs for the Sunset Road project will not be completed until 2010, so no one knows yet how the finished road will look or even how wide it will be. The county is just beginning a study to answer those questions.

However, county public works officials want to hear ideas from people who live along Sunset Point Road or drive it regularly. What do you think the road needs to be safer, less congested or easier to drive? What does it not need? Those are the kinds of questions county officials hope to get answered in this early planning meeting with residents.

On Thursday, take advantage of an opportunity to do some brainstorming about future mass transit projects with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA).

TBARTA is an agency with an important mission: to create a transportation master plan for the seven counties of the Tampa Bay region. At the top of the list is whether and how those counties could be tied together with an effective mass transit system.

TBARTA is holding workshops in each of the seven counties this month to hear and share ideas. The workshop for Pinellas is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Select, 3535 Ulmerton Road, near the intersection of Ulmerton and Roosevelt Boulevard. This is a drop-in style workshop, so you can go by after you get off work.

TBARTA was created by the Florida Legislature last year to address the Tampa Bay region's acknowledged transportation challenges. The region is growing, and more cars are added each year to the already congested roadways. Yet governments are less able to afford the high cost of building more roads, and the cost of driving is an increasing burden on Tampa Bay families.

Some people believe the only real solution is a rail system, but that idea also has its detractors. TBARTA plans to take two years to study the problems, hear from the public and then develop its master plan. Then, unlike some previous transportation study groups, TBARTA can take the next step. The Legislature gave the agency the authority to issue bonds and build a system as well as manage it.

Part of TBARTA's mission is also to find out what residents of each county think is needed, and where improvements such as new roads, express bus lines or rail lines should go. For more information on TBARTA, its work and the officials involved, check out the Web site at

Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of transportation planning. The future can look better than the river of red tail lights you see on area roads now at rush hour.

Editorial: Speak up on North Pinellas transportation issues 03/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2008 1:12pm]
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