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Guest Column
Why we support Hillsborough’s 1% sales tax transportation referendum | Column
The All for Transportation plan is a balanced solution to fund our community’s transportation priorities — better roads, safer roads and more transportation options.
Traffic is getting worse in HIllsborough. Here, traffic builds on Interstate 275 South on April 21 in Tampa.
Traffic is getting worse in HIllsborough. Here, traffic builds on Interstate 275 South on April 21 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Sep. 14

For more than a decade, a restlessness has grown in our community. In every neighborhood, in every corner of Hillsborough County, there is mounting frustration with our broken transportation system and the lack of solutions to fix it.

Tyler Hudson
Tyler Hudson [ Provided ]

We vent about it around the dinner table, at work or at practice where we arrive late too often. We live through the failures of our roads every day, which cost time sitting in traffic and cost money as the problem worsens. Tragically, and too frequently, our failing transportation system results in death and injury that does not distinguish between someone in a car, on a bike or simply crossing the street.

Fortunately, the All for Transportation plan will be on this November’s ballot, giving Hillsborough County residents an opportunity to turn that frustration into action that will save time, money and lives.

The All for Transportation plan is a balanced solution to fund our community’s transportation priorities — better roads, safer roads and more transportation options.

The plan, a 1% sales tax over the next 30 years, includes $183 million in road improvements annually. Road funding will touch every corner of Hillsborough County and its three cities, Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City. Hillsborough County and Tampa will each spend 28 percent of the funding to improve and repair existing roads and bridges, 26 percent to reduce congestion, 27 percent to make safety improvements aimed at reducing accidents, and 12 percent for network improvements like building and fixing sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes and trails.

The remainder will be distributed to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), which will double local bus service, increase frequency and reliability, explore new options such as bus rapid transit on major corridors and add circulator service in places like Westshore, south county, the USF area and downtown.

Christina Barker
Christina Barker [ AMY PEZZICARA OR PEZZ PHOTO | Provided ]

The plan creates a critical citizen oversight committee that will review plans and audits to ensure that the citizens’ investment is spent properly, fairly and transparently.

The All for Transportation plan is not new to Hillsborough County residents. It’s the same plan that was placed on the ballot by citizens and approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that only the county commission — not citizens — may determine how tax revenues are spent. In response, the Hillsborough County Commission placed the All for Transportation plan on the ballot this year.

Since 2018, our transportation crisis has only worsened.

The backlog of road, safety and transit needs has grown from $9 billion to $13 billion. By 2030, 65% of Hillsborough County’s major roads will be in poor or failing condition and 90% of the county’s 300 bridges will need repairs.

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Since the 2018 election, Hillsborough County has grown by nearly 100,000 people and 700,000 more are projected to move here in the next 30 years. Today the average Tampa metro commuter spends more than 200 hours per year in traffic. That’s like five weeks’ vacation stuck in traffic. As we grow, traffic does too.

In four years, more than 1,000 people have lost their lives on our roads. Our traffic fatalities jumped to an all-time high in 2021 and now compare to those of New York City — a city with six times the population.

We cannot afford to do nothing and miss this moment. The cost of voting no is far higher than voting yes.

All for Transportation began as a question about power: Who has the power to fix the transportation issues plaguing our community? As it turns out, we do. The All for Transportation plan is the community’s transportation plan. It is a reflection of the vision and priorities of Hillsborough County residents, and it’s our opportunity to create a better, safer future together.

Tyler Hudson and Christina Barker are founders of All for Transportation, the citizen-led effort supporting the 2022 transportation referendum.

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