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.
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.
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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