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.
New Director Selected for MPO and Pinellas Planning Council
The MPO and Pinellas Planning Council (PPC) became a unified agency earlier this year. On March 11, MPO/PCC Chairman Jim Kennedy announced its first director, Whit Blanton. Blanton is the vice president and founder of the Orlando-based Renaissance Planning Group, which was established in 1999. He is also a member of the American Planning Association (APA) Board of Directors and chairman of the APA Legislative and Policy Committee. He was inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows in 2012.
Blanton has over 25 years of experience in transportation and land use planning and has worked extensively with MPOs and local agencies to develop and implement plans to achieve their transportation and community development goals. He has a master's degree in urban and regional planning from Florida State University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in journalism and communications. He assumes his new position with the MPO/PPC in June.
MPO Adopts Pinellas Transportation Plan
The MPO adopted its Pinellas Transportation Plan (a.k.a., 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan) for Pinellas County at their December 10 meeting. The adoption culminates an extensive process of assessing existing and projected population, socioeconomic and mobility trends in the County, re-assessing local and regional transportation needs and identifying the necessary improvements to address those needs. The Plan is updated every five years and is required by Federal Law in order for the County to be eligible for Federal and State transportation funds.
Public comments provided at the MPO meeting were focused on the Transit Element of the Plan and the direction of future transit services provided by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in the wake of the failed Greenlight Pinellas referendum. The adopted Transit Element includes a "Core" option and a "Coverage" option. These options represent different approaches to providing bus service utilizing existing revenue sources. The Core option directs PSTA's resources to the most productive routes and calls for service cuts to the least productive routes. The Coverage option aims to maintain existing service coverage throughout the County by reducing frequencies, cutting unproductive segments of individual routes, and/or scaling back on the days/hours of service. Both options also involve identifying and implementing efficiency measures that could be achieved through changes in administration or operations. PSTA will continue to analyze the options and conduct community outreach to determine a future vision for transit service in Pinellas County.
FDOT Releases Tentative Five Year Work Program
The new Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 7 Tentative Work Program was recently released and a summary of the Program was presented by FDOT staff at the December 10 MPO meeting. The Work Program covers a five year period from fiscal year (FY) 2015/16 to 2019/20. New to the program are major road expansion projects on US Highway 19 from south of Timberlane Road to south of Lake Street and from 70th Avenue to 118th Avenue. Three corridor studies were added to evaluate traffic conditons and transportation needs and identify improvements on Alternate US Highway 19 in mid and south Pinellas County and Pasadena Avenue in South Pasadena. Public comment on the Work Program can be provided online or at an upcoming workshop hosted by FDOT.
MPO Approves Transportation Improvement Program Update
At their November 12 meeting, the MPO approved the annual update of its fiscal year (FY) 2014/15 through 2018/19 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is updated in the fall of each year to incorporate the most recently adopted transportation work programs of Pinellas County (map, table), municipal governments (map), airports and Port of St. Petersburg.
With over $235 million in scheduled projects from FY 2014/15 to 2019/20, Pinellas County's work program is the largest of the County's 25 local jurisdictions. Approximately 30 percent of the County's programmed funds committed to specific projects is dedicated to road expansion projects. This is followed by nearly 18 percent of the total funds dedicated to resurfacing, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects (not involving road expansion) and approximately 17 percent committed to Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects. New projects added to the County work program include those listed below.
- 118th Ave Expressway (part of Gateway Express project) from east of Roosevelt Boulevard to US Highway 19. This reflects the County's funding contribution to this road expansion project.
- Haines Road reconstruction from 60th Avenue North to US Highway 19.
- Whitney Road/Wolford Road intersection improvement.
- 38th Avenue North/28th Street intersection improvement.
- Alternate US Highway 19/Nebraska Avenue intersection improvement.
- Forest Lakes Road reconstruction from Pine Avenue to the Pinellas/Hillsborough County Line.
- Intelligent transportation improvements on SR 580, Curlew Road, Tampa Road, County Road 1, and 113th Street.
The current TIP was adopted by the MPO at their June 11 meeting. At that time the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 7 and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority work programs are incorporated in the TIP. The TIP is required by Federal and State Law in order for the County to receive federal and state funding for transportation improvements.
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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