Advertisement
  1. Transportation

Proposed Hillsborough transportation plan expected June 11

Community members attended a Go Hillsborough meeting on Monday in Town ’N County, where they were asked what the ideal transportation plan should be. There was disagreement.
Published May 27, 2015

TAMPA — Three months of public meetings aimed at developing a plan to fix jam-packed roads and improve limited transit offerings have come to an end, and now consultants have to reconcile transportation priorities that often vary with where commuters live.

Hillsborough County paid Parsons Brinckerhoff about $1 million to organize outreach and put together a detailed transportation plan, which it will present to local leaders on June 11 at the policy leadership group meeting. County commissioners will then have to decide whether they want to put a referendum on the 2016 ballot and, if so, what sort of tax they would ask voters to approve.

"I think the community outreach has been very successful," said George Walton, senior vice president of the national consulting firm. "It's an opportunity for people to come, listen, learn and engage in the overall process."

The series included 32 in-person meetings that drew a total of nearly 2,000 attendees, while thousands of others dialed in to four town hall teleconferences. Local leaders expressed concern last month that consultants hadn't reached enough people to build the consensus needed for a widely supported plan.

"There's a lot of people who don't even know what this is," Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura said at an April meeting. "There's not a big buzz."

In the last two rounds of meetings, a majority of people who filled out surveys about the options to pay for the plan were most supportive of a 1-cent sales tax — the same proposed tax that failed to gather a majority of votes in Pinellas and Polk in 2014 and Hillsborough in 2010.

People who filled out surveys said this type of tax "raises the most money" and "allows for everyone, including tourists, to pay for it."

Other options include a property tax, gas tax or smaller sales tax. Each of these comes with its own caveats. For instance, a 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax raises $25 million annually, while a sales tax brings in $200 million per year. Property tax, the least-supported option, puts the burden solely on property owners.

Six people gathered around a table Monday in Town 'N Country to discuss with facilitators what they thought an ideal transportation plan would look like.

Bob Clifford of Parsons Brinckerhoff prompted the participants on specifically what they wanted from local transit.

"With a bus, I'd be sitting in the same traffic and hitting the same lights as I do in my car," said Lynn Ravens, 33, of Town 'N Country.

Others at the table agreed. None relies on transit, so for them to use it, they said there would have to be sizable time and efficiency benefits.

"What you're both talking about is transit with a dedicated route," Clifford said.

While several nodded their heads, others pushed back.

"Part of the problem I have with a light-rail system is that it's a fixed route," said Barbara Aderhold, who lives near Odessa. "This county is very diverse, with very diverse needs. And how do we pay for it? We can't even maintain what we have."

The tension felt within that group is indicative of conflicts within the county. According to research gathered from previous meetings, those in the northeast and northwest agree that resources need to be spent on both roads and transit. But things are more polarizing for central and south Hillsborough: Those in the center of the county want the focus on transit only, while those in south county clamor for the roads to be fixed first, before anything else.

Throughout the past three months, Parsons Brinckerhoff identified four areas of improvements: bike and pedestrian, maintenance, roads and transit. But the percentage of money devoted to each of those areas remains unseen. Details on selected projects, funding sources and allocation of funds will be presented June 11 at the policy leadership group meeting.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401. Follow @cljohnst.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Florida Department of Transportation is installing lights on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as part of a $15 million project. During tests this weekend, engineers will illuminate the bridge in a pink hue to commemorate breast cancer awareness month. Courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation
    The Florida Department of Transportation is lighting up the span this weekend to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.
  2. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is hoping to secure a $21.8 million federal grant to help pay for a bus rapid transit line connecting downtown St. Petersburg and the beaches. St. Petersburg City  Council approved an interlocal agreement Thursday supporting the project. ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times
    Pinellas transit officials hope the project will get a federal grant in 2020. However, St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena still oppose it.
  3. The Cross Bay Ferry, Provincetown III leaves the Vinoy Yacht Basin in January with passengers headed to Tampa. For departure times and fares for this season, which will go from Nov. 1 through April 30, check thecrossbayferry.com. [SCOTT KEELER | Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Now in its third year, the ferry will run Wednesdays through Sundays, with service for every Tampa Bay Lightning home game.
  4. Col. Jennifer Crossman smiles as Boomer, a 5-year-old dog, sits in the passenger seat of her car during the firefighter challenge at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. [Times (2016)] Tampa Bay Times
    Uber customers can now be connected with willing animal chauffeurs — for a fee.
  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times Pasco County's long-range transportation plan no longer includes a proposed sales tax increase.
    The federally required plan guides transportation needs and expenses through 2045.
  6. Ryan Cummings, 23, of Tampa, left, and Alex Frey, 25, also of Tampa, rent Spin electric scooters from a corral located along Zack Street Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Tampa. Electric scooter companies Spin, Bird, Lime and Jump were being deployed within the next few weeks according to a tweet from the City of Tampa on Sunday. Campbell and Henigan spent a couple of hours Tuesday trying the electric scooters. Frey and his friend Ryan Cummings rented two scooters during their lunch break. "We are going to Armature Works, we couldn’t do that without these." said Frey. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Plus the most bizarre incidents of electric scooter vandalism around the city.
  7. The traffic signal for eastbound traffic on Drew Street at McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater. Image by Archive
    A reader wonders why the sign at the end of Bayside Bridge instructs trucks heading north to exit during specified hours rather than stay on the bridge.
  8. In this Feb. 23, 2015 photo, a car is hauled from a canal in West Palm Beach, Fla. The driver was taken to a local hospital where he died. Palm Beach County has over 300 miles of canals, built to move water. Since 1997, 181 people have drowned in vehicles that ended in canals. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP) LANNIS WATERS  |  AP
    Of the nearly 1,100 people nationwide who died from 2013 to 2017 when vehicles went into water, 1 in 6 died in Florida.
  9. Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald, a well-known Tampa plastic surgeon, died on Oct. 5 when his twin-engine plane crashed soon after taking off from Kokomo Municipal Airport in Indiana. Greenwald family | Tim Bath/The Kokomo Tribune via AP
    An employee at the Kokomo Municipal Airport said Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald told him he wanted jet fuel for the Piper Aerostar. A friend says there’s no way he would have knowingly done so.
  10. Rekira Owens, a bus driver with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, greets officials from behind a newly installed shield as they board a bus Thursday in Tampa. The clear divider is meant to protect drivers from physical assaults after a driver was killed in Tampa this year. CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The two transit agencies took action after a Hillsborough driver was stabbed and killed by a rider earlier this year.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement