Congestion Management Process
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
MPO works with the Florida Department of Transportation,
the federal government, Pinellas County agencies
and municipalities to identify road improvement and bicycle and pedestrian project priorities eligible for State and Federal funding. Safety, cost, traffic congestion, economic impact
and preservation of neighborhoods are all
given due consideration in prioritizing and planning roadway
improvements. The MPO utilizes an assortment of data sources in this process, including traffic
counts and crash information, which is collected on an ongoing basis.
Congestion Management Process
As required by Federal Law, the MPO is required to implement a congestion management process (CMP) which is designed to ensure that lower cost alternatives to major capital investments are considered in identifying improvements necessary to address roadway congestion. The MPO's CMP is centered on its State of the System Report which highlights travel trends and presents information on traffic conditions and transportation system performance.
Travel trends and patterns evaluated for the Congestion Management Process are reported in the annual MPO Level of Service Report as well as the MPO Crash Data Report. These traffic congestion and related problems are then addressed by identifying small scale physical improvements such as intersection modifications, median closings and sidewalk construction to fill existing gaps in the network. They are scheduled in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Transportation Systems (ITS) seek advanced technology solutions
to addressing traffic congestion. ITS concepts
were first introduced by the United
States Department of Transportation in 1996 with a goal of
saving every American up to 15% in travel time.
of ITS technology include computerized traffic
signal systems that automatically adjust to maximize
traffic flow and to permit emergency vehicles to pass
through intersections quickly; freeway management
systems, such as electronic message signs and highway
advisory radio messages that warn travelers of heavy congestion; and electronic fare payment on public
buses that reduce passenger boarding time.
MPO works to coordinate these planning efforts in the County through its ITS Committee, which is
composed of public and private sector transportation
planners, engineers, and representatives responsible for traffic management, emergency
management (including fire and rescue), law enforcement,
transit service, communications and tourism. MPO
board members and an MPO
Citizens Advisory Committee representative also
serve on the committee.
An ITS Implementation Plan for Pinellas County was completed in 2009. The Plan called for the installation of an extensive array of advanced traffic management system improvements on major roadways including signal pre-emption for emergency vehicles, closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) and electronic message signs. The Plan also included the coordination of signal systems through a primary control center. The Plan for ITS improvements on major roads identified three phases. Improvements on the highest priority corridors such as US Highway 19 and Ulmerton Road were completed under phase one. Phase three is anticipated for completion by 2018.
Addtional ITS Documents
and Pedestrian Travel
The MPO's three-pronged approach to creating safer and friendlier environments for walking and bicycling focuses on education, engineering and enforcement. Education encompasses activities related to increasing the awareness of laws affecting walkers and bicycles as well as safe pedestrian and bicycling practices.
The Pinellas County Pedestrian Safety Action Plan reflects a comprehensive approach by the MPO and its partner agencies to improve travel conditions for pedestrians. The MPO also works closely with community groups and organizations, such as the Community Traffic Safety Team, Florida Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition, and the Pinellas County School Board, in these education initiatives.
Engineering revolves around efforts centered on expanding the County's sidewalk, trail and bicycle lane networks to create more and better opportunities for these travel modes. The MPO's most direct inolvement in these efforts is by prioritizing and allocating funding to construct bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout the County through the Transportation Improvement Program. Development of the County's sidewalk, bicycle lane and trail networks is guided by the MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan Facilities Element.
Enforcement refers to the MPO's partnering with local law enforcement agencies to ensure laws affecting bicyclists and walkers are being appropriately enforced to improve their safety. Law enforcement officers from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and municipal police departments participate on the MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and the Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST), which provide input to the MPO decision making process on matters affecting bicycle and pedestrian safety in the County.
A primary objective behind the
MPO's bicycle and pedestrian activities is to allow for bicycling and walking to be viable commuting alternatives in addition to being healthy recreational activities. This not only helps to reduce traffic congestion, it reduces auto emissions, saves energy and creates a healthier population and improved quality of life for the County's residents. The MPO's Safety Pages provide additional information on bicycle and pedestrian safety with an emphasis on school-age children.
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County is nationally recognized for its extensive
trail system network, which includes the nationally recognized Fred
Marquis Pinellas Trail. This facility extends 45 miles from East Lake Tarpon to St. Petersburg. The County's planned and existing trail network is identified in the MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan Facilities Element.
The Pinellas Trail and its connecting facilities include bridges over waterways,
connections to shopping and employment centers, parks,
schools and other popular destination points. An
important element in the planned trail network is the 20.6-mile
Trail, which when completed, will provide a north/south
in eastern Pinellas County and will complete the Pinellas Trail Loop. The northern end of the Duke/Progress Energy Trail will connect with the
East Lake/Tarpon Springs section of the Pinellas Trail and the southern terminus will connect to the
planned Weedon Island Trail.
The Pinellas County Parks Department is looking for volunteer auxiliary rangers. The rangers play an important role in patroling the Trail and providing information to visitors, and assisting with light maintenance and special events. Volunteer rangers are required to complete a certification training course and 100 hours of service within a one-year period. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Auxiliary Ranger Program can sign up here.
Detailed information for Pinellas Trail users is available in the Guide to the Pinellas Trail.
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Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is the primary
public transportation provider in Pinellas County,
Florida. The main objective of PSTA’s fixed route system is to provide affordable transportation that connects people to their places of employment, recreation areas, tourist destinations and shopping locations. In addition to serving the general public, PSTA plays an important role in serving the transportation needs of the disadvantaged population.
Bicyclists can also access PSTA buses through the agency's Bikes
on Buses Program. This program allows riders to mount
their bikes on the front of PSTA buses for long
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Disadvantaged (TD) Program
The state-funded TD Program provides low-cost, non-emergency transportation throughout Pinellas County to individuals who qualify as "transportation disadvantaged." To be qualified, a person must have no means of transportation, including family and friends, and an income no greater than 150 percent of the federal poverty level. With unlimited use bus passes (Go Cards), TD Program customers can receive transportation to anywhere a bus can take them for a reduced fee of $11 for a 31-day pass and $5 for a 10-day pass. For
those unable to ride the bus, non-emergency
service is provided by taxi cabs or wheelchair
accessible vans. The cost is $3 per one-way trip.
The PSTA is the designated Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC) for Pinellas County. As the CTC, PSTA is responsible for managing the TD Program.
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addition to the above planning areas, the MPO
works with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) to promote commute alternatives to single occupant vehicle travel, which represents nearly 80 percent of all vehicles on the State's roadways during peak hours of travel. These alternatives include carpools, vanpools, transit, teleworking and compressed/flexible work weeks coordinated by TBARTA.