June 2022 – The Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) approved the 2022 update of its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a five-year plan that included $4.2 billion in funding for local transportation projects.
Held on June 8, 2022, the three-hour-long public hearing included funding recommendations for projects such as the widening of US 92 at McIntosh Rd., the reconstruction of the I-75/Fowler Ave. interchange, and the Heights Mobility Project. Members of the public shared comments in support of the Heights Mobility Project, but they also shared frustrations about previously approved projects at the I-4/I-275 Downtown Interchange (DTI).
“We should be moving to lessen the impact of I-275 and move to smarter, more sustainable transportation options,” Christopher Martinez wrote on social media.
Mr. Martinez was one of 15 members of the public that addressed the Board in person and over the phone during the hearing.
The TPO Board previously approved ~$3 million for right-of-way acquisition (in May 2021) and ~$150 million for construction (in October 2021) of the DTI projects which will add lanes on the three ramps that connect I-4 and I-275 and a new exit on I-4 at 14th St. When Hillsborough County Commissioner Overman asked if the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) could stop the project, FDOT District Seven Secretary David Gwynn explained that the project was past the design stage.
“Once it gets past the approval of the PD&E (Project Development and Environment)… that’s when the design starts,” Secretary Gwynn said. “This will be awarded to a contractor in two weeks. It’s certainly well beyond the design phase.”
Secretary Gwynn did share some good news: FDOT secured funding for the installation of sound walls at Robles Park, which was a concern that the TPO Board and community members mentioned at previous board meetings. He also said FDOT plans to meet with the community about future designs for I-275 underpasses, thanking Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers for sharing the community’s concerns with him.
At one point, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) CEO Adelee Le Grand announced that the agency would submit a lane repurposing application to FDOT. Secretary Gwynn welcomed the move which would be a catalyst for dedicated bus lanes along Florida Ave. and Tampa St.
Temple Terrace Mayor Andy Ross shared concerns about a lack of funding for walk/bike and safety improvements along Fowler Ave. from 56th St. to I-75. In response, FDOT District Seven representative Justin Hall indicated that FDOT anticipates announcing 2027 construction later this year.
Two Board members, City of Tampa Council members Guido Maniscalco and Lynn Hurtak, opposed the TIP with Council member Maniscalco saying a vote for the TIP would go against community sentiment about the DTI.
Other public comments included support for Complete Streets traffic calming projects in South Tampa and requests for traffic light synchronization, sidewalks, and road resurfacing along other roads in the County.
One member of the public attending in person applauded a motion by Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp to discuss, at the TPO’s August meeting, the removal of from the Long Range Transportation Plan of a project to construct two additional lanes on I-275 between Hillsborough Ave and Bearss Ave.
Ultimately, the TPO Board approved the TIP with a vote of 12–2.
Now that the TIP is approved, it will become effective October 1, 2022–September 30, 2023. When the plan goes into effect on October 1, citizens may use an online mapping tool to get current information about all of the TIP’s projects.
A Robust Plan Six Months in the Making
The annual process of updating the TIP began with a review of the Florida Department of Transportation’s Work Program. The TPO also recommended projects based on its 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan and the recommendations of other planning partners, such as Hillsborough County, the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board, HART, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, and Port Tampa Bay. TPO staff presented the TIP to its seven committees and solicited public comments during formal committee presentations.
A one-page summary of the major changes in this year’s TIP update was mailed to more than 12,000 addresses, published in three papers, and promoted online, with opportunities to provide feedback to the board via email, mail, phone, and social media. The final step was a TIP presentation during the public hearing on June 8.
For more information about the newly approved TIP and the full list of projects, please visit the TPO’s website at planhillsborough.org/transportation-improvement-program-tip/. For inquiries, contact Johnny King Alaziz Wong, Ph.D. at 813-699-7370 or email@example.com.