Congestion Management Process
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
County's transportation system consists
of a vast network of roads, bridges, airports,
bus routes, trails and sidewalks that serve as a lifeline to the local economy and the quality of life afforded to the area's residents.
Addressing the future transportation needs of Pinellas County requires a multi-modal planning approach that encompasses all the major modes of travel. Planning programs and activities associated with these modes are described below.
MPO works with the Florida Department of Transportation,
the federal government, Pinellas County agencies
and with municipalities to identify road improvement priorities
for Surface Transportation Program (STP) funding and bicycle and pedestrian projects eligible for Enhancement Program funding. The expansion
and redesign of U.S.
Highway 19 is a current example of
a high priority project for STP 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 documents travel trends and traffic patterns on the major transportation system elements (roads, buses and non-motorized modes) and identifies traffic congestion issues.
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
As one of its many responses to congestion
problems, Pinellas County has begun implementing Intelligent
Transportation Systems (ITS) on its arterial
roadways. This approach seeks technical and
practical solutions to alleviating traffic congestion
problems. Examples 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, cameras and detectors that identify
congested areas and travel advisories that inform
drivers about these problems and recommend alternative
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. This includes safety
training exercises MPO staff provides to children and adult groups
at schools, community fairs and other
civic or social events.
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.
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. Details on the MPO's education, engineering and enforcement activities is contained in the Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan. The MPO's livable communities initiative and related efforts have emphasized creating more bicycle and pedestrian friendly environments through local land use policies and regulations affecting land development projects.
A primary objective behind the
MPO's bicycle and pedestrian activities is to encourage these travel modes as commute alternatives to the automobile
in reaching their destinations. 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 37 miles from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg.
The Pinellas Trail and its connecting facilities include bridges over waterways,
connections to shopping and employment centers, parks,
schools and other centers of interest. 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. The Progress Energy Trail's northern end will connect with the
East Lake/Tarpon Springs section of the Pinellas Trail. The southern terminus will connect to the
planned Weedon Island Trail.
The Trailways Plan
also calls for a connection between the Progress
Energy Extension and the Friendship Trail
(Old Gandy Bridge), a multi-use recreational
trail spanning Tampa Bay with trail connections
in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. This Plan is included as part of the regional trails map developed under the auspices of the Chairs Coordinating Committee.
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 $8.25 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. Cost is $3 each 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 the 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.
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