HART and FDOT get funds for new projects, staff will search for a new leader

TPO board membersFebruary 2023 – HART and FDOT get funds for new projects, TPO staff will search for new leader

On February 8, the TPO Policy Committee recommended staff conduct recruitment efforts for the agency’s next executive director in lieu of the pending retirement of Executive Director Beth Alden. At its meeting that followed, the TPO Board agreed. As Board Vice Chair, Temple Terrace Mayor Andrew Ross pointed out, instead of hiring an outside consultant, staff could conduct a national search, saving the agency time and money.

The Board also agreed to amend the Transportation Improvement Program to add funds for six projects: a new HART maintenance facility and FDOT projects for additional lighting on State Road 60, the resurfacing of a section of south Dale Mabry, additional truck parking at two weigh stations along I-4, and infrastructure for electric vehicle charging. Greg Slater, executive director and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority  (THEA), stressed that a new facility could add to the on-time reliability of HART’s bus fleet while attracting new workers.

The TPO’s proposed Safety Performance Targets garnered a lot of discussion after the report showed that 219 people died in traffic crashes in 2022. “This is always so terrible to see it increasing instead of decreasing,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp noted. “(We’re) number two in the nation for the highest number of fatalities and incapacitating crashes… people are getting killed.” She also pointed out that this was the reason the County and City of Tampa were awarded $39.7 million through a federal Safe Streets for All grant. The Board unanimously approved the report.

Other Items Discussed During the Board Meeting

A status report on the Gibsonton Drive Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study showed how FDOT hopes to address safety issues on Gibsonton Dr. between I-75 and US 301. Proposed changes include widening the roadway and installing bike lanes or shared use paths.

Expect the to discuss federal and state expectations for regional planning and coordination in preparation for upcoming partner discussions on the feasibility of merging the area’s MPOs at the next Board Meeting.

What You Said: Public Comments Received in Advance and During the Board Meeting

“The vision of Boulevard Tampa (the conversion of some portion of the I-275 corridor, north of I-4, to an at grade boulevard) has percolated out of the neighborhoods most negatively impacted by the I-275 corridor for over 60 years. It has evolved over a period of seven years, aided masterfully by the academic and professional work of Joshua Frank.” ~ Rick Fernandez, Citizens Advisory Committee Chair

“Unless rail mass transit (not Fake BRT) is going to be the centerpiece of any such application, just save us the grief, and punt all this again into the future.” ~ Tom Danahy

“Lifelong resident of the area now in Seminole heights. Why is there such a resistance to a commuter rail? Tampa is one of the biggest cities in the country with no commuter rail. Even Orlando has a commuter rail which is potentially going to connect into Polk. Why can’t we have something like this? We risk being left behind.” ~ Brian Loesch

View the rest of this month's Connections to Tomorrow articles