Tri-County Trail Project Scheduled for Construction in 2015
Pinellas County's expanding trail system is about to go regional with the scheduling of the design and construction of the Tri-County Trail in 2015. The MPO approved an amendment to its Transportation Improvement Program at their October 8 meeting to schedule the project, which extends from northeast Pinellas County to central Pasco County.
The five-mile Tri-County Trail connects the existing Pinellas Trail at the intersection of East Lake Road and Keystone Road to Starkey Wilderness Park in Pasco County. The trail alignment will utilize County right-of-way along Keystone Road and County-owned land along the Hillsborough/Pinellas County Line before reaching the Park.
The Tri-County Trail is number two on the list of regional multi-use trail priorities in West Central Florida as approved by the region’s MPOs. It is also part of the Florida Coast to Coast Connector Trail, which extends from Pinellas County to Titusville on the east coast. Earlier this year, the State awarded $15 million to complete the Coast to Coast Connector Trail. Pinellas County received $4 million of this allocation to construct the Tri-County project.
MPO Adopts Prioritiy Project Lists for Federal Funding
At their September 10 meeting, the MPO adopted its annual list of priority projects for federal funding allocated through the the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Transportation Alternative Program (TAP). The adopted lists are incorporated in the MPO's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and utilized by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to prepare their five-year work program.
Monies allocated through the STP can be used for any travel mode, but have historically been used to fund major road capacity improvements in Pinellas County. The amended STP priority list adopted by the MPO at the September 10 meeting retains the 13 projects on last year's list and adds six management, operations and safety projects on the state highway system. It also adds 11 congestion management projects on non-state roads. The projects added to the amended STP list were identified in a congestion management study conducted earlier this year.
The TAP funds the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities (e.g., trails, sidewalks) as well as safety improvements such as pedestrian activated flashing beacons and median refuge islands. The amended TAP priority list approved by the MPO includes modifications and replacements to 11 City of St. Petersburg projects and the submittal of three new project applications by the cities of Clearwater and Gulfport and Pinellas County. It also included removal of a Pinellas County sidewalk project that is being funded through another source.
The MPO also approved a draft regional TAP priority list for the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area (TMA), which includes Pinellas County and the urban areas of Hillsborough and Pasco counties. In accordance with FDOT guidelines, the three MPOs are required to develop a regional priority list for TAP projects in the TMA. A final regional priority list will be considered for approval by the TMA Leadership Group in November and subsequently by the three MPOs.
The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is a systematic approach to managing transportation facilities through the implementation of small scale physical and operational improvements to address areas facilities with high levels of congestion and crash rates. These are facilities where capacity improvements needed to alleviate congestion are not an option due to physical or policy constraints.
Public Comment Period Opens on Long Range Transportation Plan
The MPO authorized the opening of a 30 day public comment period at their September 10 meeting allowing a final opportunity for citizen input on the County's future transportation investments prior to the scheduled adoption of the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan in December. The MPO also acted to approve the current draft of the Plan, which identifies $1.58 billion in cost feasible improvements for roads, transit service, intelligent transportation system (ITS) applications, trails and bike lanes. The Plan also identifies $905 million in unfunded transportation improvement needs. A summary of the 2040 Plan projects and associated costs and revenues presented to the MPO is provided here.
Report on Trail Crossings Provides Countywide Guidance for Traffic Control
A growing concern among local governments in the County has been a lack of consistency in the treatment of trail intersection crossings from one city to the next. In response to this concern, a uniform trail crossing study was recently conducted by Sprinkle Consulting. A final report, providing a standard set of guidelines for local governments to follow when determining the most appropriate treatments in terms of signs, markings and signals, was approved by the MPO at their September 10 meeting.
Volunteer Auxiliary Rangers Needed!
Pinellas County is looking for additional volunteers to support its Auxiliary Trail Ranger Program. Auxiliary rangers augment the services provided by the County's staff of park rangers, patroling the Trail and providing assistance to people along the way. These volunteer rangers help to ensure the County's trail system remains safe and accessible to visitors and residents. Apply here.
MPO Endorses Countywide Adoption of Mobility Plan Policies and Codes
At their July 9 meeting, the MPO endorsed a set of model comprehensive plan policies and land development code provisions for implementation of the Pinellas County Mobility Plan by the County’s local governments. The Plan is intended to bring about a new countywide approach to addressing the transportation impacts of development projects in the wake of the removal of State-mandated transportation concurrency requirements in 2011, passed into law under House Bill 7207. Concurrency management requirements, which stipulate that public services and facilities needed to accommodate the impacts of development projects have to be in place prior to their approval, were the linchpin of the State’s 1985 landmark Growth Management Law. Concurrency laws still apply to public services and facilities other than transportation.
The Pinellas County Mobility Plan sets forth a framework for a coordinated multi-modal approach to managing the traffic impacts of development projects while increasing mobility, particularly for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users. Amendments to local comprehensive plans and land development codes are necessary to implement the Plan through their respective site plan review processes. MPO staff will be assisting local governments in the effort to prepare and adopt amendatory ordinances necessary to enact the model policies and codes later this year and in 2015. The MPO approved the Mobility Plan concept at their December, 2013 meeting.
The Mobility Plan calls for establishing a tiered development review approach requiring larger scale projects adding new trips to the surrounding road network to implement transportation management plan (TMP) strategies in-lieu of or as credit toward their impact fee payments. Transportation impact fees are a current requirement imposed through a countywide ordinance. Under the Mobility Plan, the ordinance will remain in place although renamed as the Multi-modal Impact Fee Ordinance. The TMP strategies include, for example, trail, sidewalk, bus stop and intersection improvements or trip reduction programs such as vanpooling or telecommuting. Smaller scale projects with limited impact on the transportation system would only be required to pay an impact fee commensurate with the number of new trips they generate.
Cost Feasible Projects Identified for Long Range Plan
A central requirement of the MPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan is to identify transportation improvements necessary to meet the County’s long term transportation needs and to determine which of them can be funded with available revenues. At their meeting on May 14, the MPO identified its unfunded “needs” projects for road improvements. On July 9, they reviewed a list of cost feasible road projects. A finalized list of cost feasible projects will be presented to the MPO in September. The cost feasible and unfunded project lists will be included in the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, which is scheduled for adoption in December, 2014.
The cost feasible projects reveiwed by the MPO include management and operations as well as capacity improvements. Capacity improvements include adding lanes, construction of overpasses, interchanges and frontage roads and major intersection modifications. Management and operation improvements are smaller scale projects that include the addition of sidewalks, bike lanes, intersection and drainage improvements and work necessary to reconstruct roads to standard lane widths.
MPO Endorses Regional Priority List
At their June 6 meeting, the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area (TMA) Leadership Group established a regional priority list of transportation projects. The MPO endorsed the list at their July 9 meeting.
New Transportation Improvement Program Adopted for 2014/15
The MPO adopted its new Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for fiscal year (FY) 2014/15 through 2018/19 at their June 11 meeting. The TIP is required by Federal and State Law and contains the transportation work programs of the County’s local governments, including the airports and the Port of St. Petersburg, as well as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 7 and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. It also contains priority lists for projects eligible for federal and state funding.
A new TIP is adopted by July 1 of each year to include the FDOT Work Program, which was initially reviewed in draft form by the MPO in December, 2013. The FY 2014/15 - 2018/19 FDOT Work Program identifies $2.4 billion in State transportation projects. Neary 50 percent of the total Work Program budget is allocated to bridge maintenance, rehabilitation and construction. Approximatey 17 and 10 percent, respectively, is allocated to road capacity and transit projects.
Ten new projects have been added to the FDOT Work Program. Five of them are on US 19 North. These include projects associated with the construction of interchanges, overpasses and frontage roads from north of SR 580 to Timberlane Road and a resurfacing project from south of Live Oak Street to Brittany Park Boulevard. Other new projects include a trail facility in St. Petersburg from the existing Pinellas Trail to the west end of Treasure Lane and intelligent transportation system (ITS) installations on Alternate US 19 from the Pasco/Pinellas County Line to 66th Street in St. Petersburg. The Work Program also reflects the advancement of the Gateway Express Project in mid-county so that each segment is scheduled for construction within the next five years. The project locations are shown on a map of road, intersection and bridge improvements and another of ITS and bicycle and pedestrian improvements that are part of the adopted FY 2014/15 - 2018/19 TIP.
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 places a high value on public
involvement. Presentations are made to professional,
civic and social groups. The MPO also participates
in community-based public involvement events including
public hearings, forums and community fairs.
One way to become involved in transportation
planning is by making a brief presentation on an issue
that deeply concerns you during the "Citizens to be
Heard" segment of the MPO's
monthly meeting. Another way is through
participation on one of the MPO's
advisory committees. Openings occur periodically,
and you are encouraged to apply if you
are interested and willing to make a time
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
Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.
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