MPO Adopts New Transportation Improvement Program
Twenty-three new State projects totaling $54 million were added to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) with the MPO Board’s adoption of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015/16 – 2019/20 TIP at their June 10 meeting. The annual spring adoption of the TIP incorporates the new Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Work Program. The total budget of the FDOT Work Program is $2.9 billion. The new projects include the following:
- US Highway 19 reconstruction from Timberlane Road to Lake Street, preliminary engineering (PE);
- US Highway 19 interchange improvements from 118th Avenue to 70th Avenue, project development and environmental study (PDE);
- Interstate-275 express lanes from south of 118th Avenue to south of 4th Street, PDE;
- Alternate US Highway 19 corridor study from Park Street to Belleair Road;
- Alternate US Highway 19 corridor study from Belleair Road to Pinellas/Pasco County Line;
- 49th Street intelligent transportation system (ITS) installations from 46th Avenue North to Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard;
- Pasadena Avenue corridor study from Gulfport Boulevard to Shore Drive; and
- Keene Road ITS applications from Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard to Alderman Road.
Subsequent to the MPO’s action, the TIP is submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit and Highway Administrations for review. The TIP is required by law in order for the County to receive Federal and State transportation funding.
MPO Approves Annual Priority Lists
The MPO approved its annual priority lists for Transportation Alternatives (TA) and Surface Transportation Program (STP) funding at their June 10 meeting. The TA Program provides an average of $1.7 million in annual funds to the County for the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
The MPO utilizes a local and regonal TA Program list. The regional list includes projects in the urban areas of Pasco and Hillsborough counties as well as Pinellas. With the June 10 MPO action, the Board added four projects to the regional list including the construction of sidewalks on Park Street/Starkey Road, trail projects on 71st Street in St. Petersburg and along San Christopher Road in Dunedin and a trail overpass at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. No projects were added to the local TA Program list.
The County receives an annual average of $14 million in STP funds. Although these funds can be applied to projects supporting any mode of transportation, the MPO has historically used them only for large scale road capacity projects. Last year, the MPO approved the inclusion of congestion management, operations and safety projects on the STP list and will be considering whether to allow STP funds to be allocated to non-road improvements such as transit and trail projects later this year.
At the June 10 meeting, the MPO approved the addition of several projects to the STP list that were identified and prioritized in the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan. These included US Highway 19 reconstruction from CR 95 to the Pinellas Trail, Interstate-275 express lanes from the Hillsborough/Pinellas County Line to Gandy Boulevard and the reconstruction of Gandy Boulevard from 4th Street to the Gandy Bridge.
Courtney Campbell Trail Overpass Added to List of Priorities
The Courtney Campbell Trail overpass project at the intersection of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater is now on the regional priority list for Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program funding. The MPO added it to the list at their June 10 meeting. The Courtney Campbell Trail is scheduled to open on June 22. Officials are concerned about the safety of the people reaching the western end of the Trail who then choose to cross Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard to continue north along Bayshore Boulevard to the Ream Wilson Trail after the project is completed. Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard is a six-lane road carrying 50 thousand vehicles a day in this area. The City of Clearwater is proposing the construction of a pedestrian overpass there to allow people to avoid having to cross the road at-grade.
Tampa Bay Ferry Service Expected To Begin Operations in 2018
Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik envisions himself standing in a ferry boat in Tampa Bay celebrating the opening of a new water taxi service on New Year’s Day 2018. That’s when the Tampa Bay Ferry service is expected to start operations, Turanchik informed the MPO Board during his presentation at their May 13 meeting. Currently employed by the law firm of Akerman Senterfitt, Turanchik is representing HMS Ferries, Inc. which is partnering with Hillsborough County and the South Swell Development Group on the venture.
HMS will cover the operational costs of the project and a combination of private sector and federal, state and local funds will cover the $23.8 million in capital costs required for construction of the terminal and the purchase of the ferry boats. The first phase of the Tampa Bay Ferry project will provide morning and evening commuter services on weekdays for MacDill Air Force Base employees from a port in south Hillsborough County. It will also include special event and weekend service between the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg. There are 7,831 employees working at MacDill who reside east of the air force base on the opposite side of Hillsborough Bay.
San Martin Bridge Study Considers Replacement Options
San Martin Bridge is a 52-year old structure that lies across Riviera Bay in northeastern St. Petersburg. The structure has reached a point of functional obsolescence and is scheduled for replacement in 2018/19. The County has retained the services of HDR, Inc., to conduct a project development and environment (PD&E) study on the bridge to evaluate options for the bridge regarding its position, width and height. HDR presented an overview of the study to the MPO on May 13.
In addition to addressing the needs of motorists, the study will consider how best to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians within the structure as well as along and across San Martin Boulevard. San Martin Boulevard is a key section of the planned Pinellas Trail Loop, as it connects the existing North Bay Trail to the planned Duke Energy Trail. The Road also provides access to the Weedon Island Preserve, located east of Riviera Bay.
Express Bus Study Considers High Speed Transit Service on I-275
A Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) study is underway to evaluate the feasibility of including a premium bus route within Interstate-275 from downtown St. Petersburg to Wesley Chapel in Pasco County. Project manager Scott Pringle of Jacobs Engineering presented the Express Bus in Tampa Bay Express Lanes Study to the MPO Board at their April 8 meeting.
The board expressed strong support for express lanes to downtown St. Petersburg and underscored the need to relieve traffic congestion between St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County to aid economic development efforts as well as to improve travel conditions for motorists.
They also requested that the traffic forecast for Interstate-275 in St. Petersburg be re-assessed to ensure the traffic projections did not reflect the improvements identified in the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, which failed to win voter approval last year. The Express Bus in Tampa Bay Express Lanes Study was initiated last year by FDOT in partnership with the Hillsborough County MPO. More information on the study is available on the Tampa Bay Express website.
FDOT Seeks Public Comment on State Transportation Plans
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is seeking feedback from citizens on two plans that are fundamental to shaping transportation policy in the State. These plans, including the Florida Transportation Plan (FTP) and the Strategic Intermodal System (SIS) Policy Plan define Florida’s future transportation vision and identify the goals, objectives and strategies aimed at reaching that vision. The FTP is the statewide long range transportation plan for all of Florida. The SIS Policy Plan identifies policies for planning and improving Florida’s SIS, the statewide high-priority network of transportation facilities most critical to Florida’s economy. FDOT representatives presented an overview of the plans to the MPO at their April 8 meeting. More information on the FTP and SIP plans, including how citizens can provide comments, is available on the Florida Transportation Plan website.
About the MPO
The Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) was established in 1977 following the passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1974. The task of the MPO is to develop plans, policies and priorities that guide local decision making on transportation issues. Principal responsibilities include the development of a 20-year Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) a five-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) a two-year Unified Planning Work Program and related transportation planning studies and projects. For more on the role of MPOs, read MPO's: A Primer.
The MPO seeks to improve transportation in the county for all principal modes of travel, including mass transit, walking, and bicycling, as well as automobile. The MPO prioritizes capital improvements to address the county's travel needs and allocates federal funding to implement the projects as identified in the TIP and the LRTP.
MPO Public Involvement Opportunities
MPO relies extensively on public
involvement to guide the development of its plans and programs. Staff members regularly appear before professional and civic groups to discuss transportation topics and issues related to its planning program. Staff also attends public events such as community forums, workshops and festivals to share information about MPO plans and to collect feedback from citizens regarding their transportation concerns and interests.
Individuals wishing to provide input to the MPO can do so by corresponding with staff directly by email or phone (see below). Public comments can also be made to the MPO during the "Citizens to be
Heard" segment of the MPO's
monthly meetings. Interested citizens are also invited to attend the MPO's Citizens Advisory Committee meetings and may apply to become a member as openings become available.
For any questions or comments regarding the contents of this website, please email, mail or telephone the MPO using the contact information below.
The Pinellas County MPO
310 Court Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
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