When FDOT’s draft Tentative Work Program came out, listed among the District’s most important transportation projects was funding for many of the MPO’s highest priorities. The funded projects span the entire county with projects in Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, and unincorporated Hillsborough. They also fell nicely into the categories the MPO developed in anticipation of federal requirements for performance measures to track progress. Here are the much needed projects we can look forward to:
Preserving the system. Funding in fiscal year 2022 for Maydell Bridge replacement and HART’s bus replacement program.
Reducing crashes. Funding walk-bike projects on Floribraska Ave, Cass St, Morris Bridge Rd, and around eight elementary schools.
Managing congestion for drivers and shippers. Funding for interchange improvements on I-75 at Big Bend Rd and Gibsonton Dr, at Westshore and Gandy Blvds, 3 locations in Plant City, and the extension of Apollo Beach Blvd.
Providing real choices when not driving. Funding for the Tampa Bypass Canal Trail PD&E study, the first segment of the South Coast Greenway and a trailhead for the Selmon Greenway.
Major projects supporting economic growth. Improving access to the Port with a PD&E study for a grade-separated interchange at US 41 over the CSX rail lines. New funding for TBX is proposed only on Segment 5 (I-275 west of Downtown).
2016 State of the System Report
What are the benefits of performance measurement?
Just ask any parent on the day report cards come out. Seeing how well an expectation is met can be a great source of satisfaction, or if the results fall short, can point to where improvements are needed. Federal rules now require performance measures as a check and balance that proposed transportation plans and projects are helping to reach goals established by the community.
The Hillsborough MPO has documented the performance of the transportation system for a number of challenging goals, even going beyond those identified nationally. The performance areas include:
Preserve the system
Reduce crashes & vulnerability
Minimize traffic for drivers & shippers
Real choices when not driving
Major investments for economic growth
The plan is to continue to evaluate and adjust, track trends, and make progress toward a safer, more efficient, transportation system.
Community leaders will be gathering for the second of four Vision Zero workshops on January 31, 2017 from 9am – 11am at the Town & Country Regional Library (7606 Paula Drive). Part of the workshop includes a walking audit of Hillsborough Avenue and Hanley Road. Attendees will make observations of traveler behavior, road design, and if customer access and safety are taken into account at the nearby destinations. To gain more insight into local issues, students and seniors from the nearby middle school and senior center have been invited. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office staff will be on hand to help guide the tour with speed radar guns to aid in the discussions on addressing speeding.
By the end of the year, a Vision Zero Action Plan will outline steps to move Hillsborough County toward zero traffic deaths. For success, each and every one of us must be vigilant about traffic safety. If you are interested in participating, consider which of the four action tracks you can help with… not sure? Come to the meeting anyway, and then decide!
Five things your city should do to improve intersection safety
WTSP’s Noah Pransky interviews MPO Exec Dir Beth Alden
“Whatever you can do to address speed and bring the speed down, just a little bit, can make a life or death difference,” said Beth Alden, Executive Director of the Hillsborough MPO. “You know, if you design your road like an interstate, people are going to drive on it like its an interstate.”
An innovative approach to improving safety at intersections while also improving traffic flow is called a “Peanutabout.” The name may sound a bit confusing, but the concept is simple. Take a typical roundabout, already known for its benefits to traffic safety, and reshape to fit where right of way is tight… plus add a cycle track!
The MPO continues to be challenged with ways of moving the county’s growing population efficiently and safely. Large intersections have always been a concern for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists and the peanutabout may just be a solution we can sink our teeth into. Read more about peanutabouts in a recent article by Michael Andersen in STREETBLOG USA.
YBOR’s relief from trucks, opens doors
It might not immediately feel any differently, but on December 8, 2016, two main roadways moving through Ybor City were handed over to the City of Tampa from the state. The one-way pair of 21st and 22nd Streets from Adamo Drive to Hillsborough Avenue now belong to the city. What makes this exciting news is that trucks will now be restricted from using these roadways as a cut-through to I-4. Local deliveries can still occur, but longer trips are expected to be taken using the I-4/Selmon Connector. Without the truck traffic, the city can proceed with reducing lanes, providing wider sidewalks, on-street parking, decorative lighting, and additional landscaping, all leading to slower traffic that makes walking through this historic area more comfortable. Read about the improvements on TBO.com.
Himes Avenue safety project
The well-traveled section of Himes Avenue from Kennedy Boulevard to Columbus Drive is about to get a facelift. At the City of Tampa’s request, the FDOT set aside Federal Highway Safety Funds to transform this 5-lane section by adding a median to define where motorists should queue when turning, striping bike lanes, adding a midblock crossing, and best of all, reducing the speed limit. Work is expected to begin in 2018. Visit the City’s webpage for more information.
Brandon congestion relief
In the greater Brandon area, construction is anticipated in early 2017 on Hillsborough County’s Bell Shoals Road. The project calls for widening between Bloomingdale Avenue and Boyette Road. In addition to adding 2 lanes, a raised median, turn lanes, and signal improvements will be included. Not far from there, at Lumsden and Lithia Pinecrest Road, intersection improvements are being studied with construction to begin mid 2017. Other work has been completed in the Bloomingdale area to add lighting and more visible crosswalk markings. Intersection and signal improvements have been completed at Durant & S. Valrico Road and Brooker & Bryan Roads.
US 92 PD&E Study
FDOT just held two public meetings to receive comments about a proposal to widen US 92 through much of eastern Hillsborough County. The MPO has identified two segments as high priorities to receive available funds: the portion near I-75, west of Mango Road, and the portion east of Plant City, adjacent to the Polk County line. These areas are priorities because they have the highest congestion forecasts and also because they have the potential to promote job growth in the business districts they improve access to. FDOT has set aside funds to advance these two segments into the design and engineering phase in 2017. Read more about this study.
Overpass Road PD&E Study
Pasco County is working with FDOT on proposed improvements to Overpass Road that could include a new I-75 interchange in the rapidly growing Wesley Chapel area of Pasco County – For further information, please contact Kevin Sumner, Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-834-3604.
Rush Hour: Bus faster than a Porsche
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) now permits and encourages buses running on the interstate shoulders. Issuing guidance for District offices and transit agency partners, FDOT describes steps to evaluate and consider the use of interstate shoulders for operating buses.
Shoulder-running buses have been bypassing interstate traffic jams for decades in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where they also must contend with keeping the shoulders clear of snow. More recently, Miami-Dade implemented a pilot project in which the agency initiated three bus routes to travel on the shoulders of Miami Dade Expressway Authority facilities. The 3-year pilot project of buses operating on highway shoulders was deemed a success and achieved its objectives of reducing travel time, increasing on-time performance and ridership, and reducing fuel expenses as a result of shorter bus idling times.
In Tampa Bay, express buses bypassing traffic jams on the shoulders of I-275 would make a big difference to HART’s proposed AirPorter project. As reported in St Petersblog, HART’s top priority for new & discretionary funding in 2017 is a rapid bus route connecting downtown Tampa, downtown St. Petersburg, and the Carillon area of St. Petersburg to Tampa International Airport – mostly using congested I-275. As outlined by HART officials, the service would use a “premium vehicle” that would run every 15 minutes during rush hours and every half hour at other times, up until 9 p.m. on weeknights and 9:30 p.m. on weekend nights. “The AirPorter is obviously gaining a lot of traction, especially in the Legislature,” noted HART strategic planning committee chair Sandy Murman.
More WAZE to ease area traffic
Hillsborough MPO will provide WAZE information about school zones, posted speed limits, parking garage and where electric vehicle charging stations. In exchange, WAZE will offer continuous speed data, and show when congested, routing and road hazards.
The MPO board believes this could have a huge impact on local drivers, after reviewing data from the partnership in other cities. “‘We can see where are the trouble spots, where are the areas that are most congested, what areas need the most help,” said MPO Board and Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco. The city and county plan to use this data to make changes to bad traffic spots. They also feel adding additional information to an app many residents already use will also help with the commute. View the full story from ABC Action News.
Important dates & events for 2017
Florida Bike Month – March
Earth Day – April 22
National Bike to School Day – May 5
National Bike to Work Week – May 15 – 19
National Dump the Pump Day – June 15
World Car Free Day – September 22
New bridge helps tidal flow
Recognizing that Old Tampa Bay is still considered to be the bay’s “problem child,” the Florida Department of Transportation is proposing to build a 200-foot bridge, replacing part of the Courtney Campbell Causeway just west of the Ben T. Davis Beach to restore tidal flows and improve water quality. The Southwest Florida Water Management District, which will make the final decision on whether a permit should be granted, supports the concept in theory. “The legislature is pushing for flexibility so we’re taking the idea to the community for vetting,” notes Dave Kramer, the district’s surface water regulation manager. “It will be the first mitigation of its kind in the state.”