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Caitlin Johnston, Times Staff Writer

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Johnston covers transportation, breaking news and features in Hillsborough County. She is a graduate of Indiana University, with her master's from the University of Maryland.

She's always looking for story ideas.

Phone: (813) 226-3401

E-mail: cjohnston@tampabay.com

Twitter: @cljohnst

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  1. Hillsborough planners take to streets to study pedestrian safety

    Transportation

    TAMPA — They stood on the sidewalk of the busy intersection, their fluorescent vests and clipboards catching the attention of passing drivers.

    The group, composed of a dozen or so transportation planners, engineers, politicians and law enforcement, scanned the roadway looking for any way to make it safer for those who walk or ride a bike.

    To start with, the sidewalk's steep slope wasn't compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. The crosswalk was slanted, not perpendicular to the curb, which is preferred. Across the street, a sidewalk stopped abruptly, leaving nowhere to go for walkers. Bushes, signs and a large green metal box made it difficult for drivers at the stoplight to see people who might cross in front of them....

    A group composed of Hillsborough County transportation planners, engineers, politicians and law enforcement cross Hillsborough Avenue and Kelly Road during an on-street audit of Town ’N Country roads Tuesday. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  2. Cross-Bay Ferry sets sail, leaving Tampa Bay's transportation woes in its wake

    Transportation

    The crowd of politicos buzzed on the deck of the Cross-Bay Ferry as it made its first journey Tuesday from the Vinoy Basin in downtown St. Petersburg across the bay to downtown Tampa.

    The wind whipped around them. Women searched for hair ties as groups huddled close, shouting over the din of the engine....

    The Cross-Bay Ferry sits at the Vinoy Basin in St. Petersburg on Nov. 1, 2016, hours before its maiden voyage to Tampa. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. New Tampa Bay ferry to make its maiden voyage on Tuesday

    Transportation

    Starting this week, people will finally have a way to cross Tampa Bay that doesn't involve driving on one of the area's congested bridges.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry departs on its maiden voyage at 10 a.m. today from the Vinoy Basin in St. Petersburg. But that trip is only for elected officials, transportation leaders, business groups and other designated "VIPs."

    The general public will have to wait until Friday to test out the region's latest transportation option. For the first three weeks, anyone can ride the ferry on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; the other days of the week are reserved for investors, businesses and other designated groups....

    The Cross-Bay Ferry departs on its maiden voyage at 10 a.m. today from the Vinoy Basin in St. Petersburg. It will sail to downtown Tampa and then return. Regular service for the public will start Nov. 26. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Hillsborough commissioners approve $600 million, road-based project list

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners approved a $600 million list of transportation projects that consists largely of road work, telling opponents they'll deal later with expanding transit options in the county.

    The commission voted in September to set aside the money for the work over the next 10 years, starting with $35 million in 2017 and increasing $5 million each year for a decade....

    Construction workers pave the northbound lanes of Dale Mabry Highway between Martin Luther King Blvd. and Hillsborough Ave. Friday after a depression opened up in the road Thursday.  The hole stretched more than 1,000 feet long and was likely caused by the recent heavy rains.
  5. Public comment on Hillsborough transportation plan to continue this afternoon

    Blog

    About 15 people spoke during the Hillsborough County Commission’s meeting Wednesday morning about a proposed $600 million, 10-year transportation plan -- and more are waiting to share their thoughts later this afternoon.

    Commissioner Chaiman Les Miller limited the public comment period to 45 minutes so the board could vote on other matters on the agenda. He said more than 30 people had signed up to speak. Those who did not have time in the morning are invited to address the board in the afternoon session. It’s unclear how many will come back to give their statements....

    Cars sit locked in evening rush hour traffic on Dale Mabry near Raymond James Stadium on Monday evening, April 25, 2016 in Tampa.
  6. State Senate | District 19

    Kyc

    Rep. Darryl Rouson, after narrowly edging out two other well-known lawmakers in the Democratic primary, will take on political newcomer John "Mr. Manners" Houman, a Republican, to replace longtime Tampa lawmaker Arthenia Joyner in the state Senate.

    About the job: Senate District 19 once covered portions of three counties, but has now narrowed to Pinellas and Hillsborough. State senators serve four-year terms and are paid $29,697 a year....

    Darryl Ervin Rouson
  7. Tampa City Council questions FDOT officials about Tampa Bay Express

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa City Council members want to know the full economic impact of Tampa Bay Express, the $6 billion road project that will add tolls to the area's interstates.

    The Florida Department of Transportation updated the council Thursday on the status of the massive road project, known as TBX, including potential community enhancements the state hopes to make once TBX is finished....

  8. Tampa City Council questions DOT officials about Tampa Bay Express

    Blog

    TAMPA — The City Council wants to know the full economic impact of Tampa Bay Express, the $6 billion road project that will add tolls to the area’s interstates.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Thursday updated the council on the status of the massive road project, known as TBX, including potential community enhancements the state hopes to make once TBX is built....

    Residents and businesses along Interstate 275 stretching from Bearss Avenue to the Westshore area could be affected by the proposed widening of the highway by the Florida Department of Transportation.
  9. Public scolds local officials over TBX, Howard Frankland tolls

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Community members on Tuesday berated local officials who voted to approve Tampa Bay Express, calling them "chumps" and accusing them of failing to properly vet the interstate expansion project that will add toll lanes from Tampa to St. Petersburg.

    The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, a group of elected and appointed officials who oversee transportation decisions in the county, had its first board meeting since state officials decided Monday to change course on an important part of TBX: replacing a free lane with a toll lane on the new northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge....

    State officials on Monday changed course on an important part of TBX: replacing a free lane with a toll lane on the new northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
  10. Public scolds local officials over TBX, Howard Frankland tolls

    Blog

    Community members berated officials during a board meeting Tuesday morning for voting to approve Tampa Bay Express, calling them “chumps” who failed to properly vet the road expansion project.

    The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, a group of elected and appointed officials who oversee transportation decisions in the county, had its first board meeting since controversy broke last month over the state’s plan to put a toll on the Howard Frankland Bridge....

    The northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge
  11. DOT reverses course, says it won't take free Howard Frankland lane

    Transportation

    The Florida Department of Transportation reversed course Monday and abandoned a controversial plan to add a toll to an existing lane on the Howard Frankland Bridge when part of it is rebuilt in 2019.

    The department also canceled two public hearings on the bridge replacement scheduled for this week.

    In a letter from DOT Secretary Jim Boxold to State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, the state announced it would keep all four of the bridge's lanes free for drivers....

    The northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge. [Times files]
  12. With evictions looming, residents begin last minute exodus at Mosley Motel

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Residents of the Mosley Motel continued their exodus Saturday as the threat of eviction loomed.

    While many had cleared out their belongings and found new places to stay, about 25 of the motel's 110 rooms were still occupied Saturday afternoon, said Cliff Smith, the city's manager of veterans, social and homeless services.

    Some who were still there Saturday were waiting on friends or family to help them move, Smith said. ...

    About a fourth of the residents remained at the Mosley Motel on Saturday. The new owner of the property plans to demolish it.
  13. We asked 14 local officials if they knew the Howard Frankland was losing a free lane. Only four did.

    Transportation

    Confusion is swirling around the Florida Department of Transportation's plan to replace the northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The state is converting one of the four lanes in each direction to a toll lane, leaving one fewer free lane for people to drive on.

    Officials said this doesn't reduce the road's capacity because the outside lane in each direction is currently an "auxiliary lane" that's meant to connect on- and off- ramps, not to carry traffic between Tampa and St. Petersburg....

  14. Sen. Latvala urges DOT to not put toll on existing Howard Frankland lane

    Transportation

    Another prominent elected official said Monday the Florida Department of Transportation mislead him about its plans to rebuild the Howard Frankland Bridge with one fewer free lane for drivers.

    Florida Sen. Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, wrote a letter to DOT District Secretary Paul Steinman conveying his "great concern" about the agency's plan to add a toll on one lane in each direction, creating "express lanes" that could cost as much as $6 to use. Drivers who don't pay will have three lanes instead of the current four....

  15. State's answer to Howard Frankland traffic: Pay a toll or lose a lane

    Roads

    Commuting across the Howard Frankland Bridge is already a slog.

    And state officials are poised to make the congestion even worse — unless you can afford to buy your way out of it.

    The Florida Department of Transportation plans to add a toll on one lane in each direction, creating "express lanes" that could cost as much as $6 to use. Drivers who don't pay will have three lanes instead of the current four....

    Traffic makes its way across the Howard Frankland Bridge on a rainy Thursday in June. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]