CEOs & the public debate better transportation

Urban_Traffic_Arterial_eveningThe potential for major local transportation improvements is back in the news as Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace, and HART joined County Commissioners to explore how to position Hillsborough County to successfully compete in the marketplace to attract and retain jobs. Coupled with updates to all four local comprehensive plans and the upcoming update to the MPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan, the Transportation for Economic Development initiative reflects the first major cross-jurisdictional effort on transportation since voters turned down a sales tax referendum three years ago.

A Policy Leadership Group made up of County Commissioners, mayors and HART board chair has accepted the challenge of building consensus on solutions.

Recent presentations by business representatives and site selection firms, and the first of a series of public forums show perspectives on the issue differ widely. Some local CEOs said that mass transit is crucial to recruiting companies and attracting talented young professionals. Other business executives asserted that proximity to markets and customers is their top concern and transit is less important.

Citizens echoed these arguments in a public forum sponsored by the Policy Leadership Group on August 6th. More than 150 people attended, and various speakers pointed out how reliant we are on autos. Others commented on the difficulty in getting around by public transportation. Transit opponents, on the other hand, stressed that voters turned down a half cent sales tax for transportation in a referendum held three years ago.

Unlike prior efforts, the current initiative is focused on how transportation can support economic development. Funding decisions for transportation solutions will come later in the process and are expected to reflect a variety of methods and sources.

  • Another public meeting on the Transportation for Economic Development initiative will be held at 6 PM on September 16th at King High School, 6815 North 56th Street, Tampa.
  • The Policy Leadership Group is slated to meet again at 1:30 PM on September 25th on the 26th floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., in downtown Tampa.
  • Contact Eric Johnson at 272-6582 for more information.