Public Invited to PSTA Workshops on Route Service Re-Design and Proposed Fare Increases
The Pinellas Transit Authority (PSTA) is hosting a series of workshops on a proposal to re-design its existing route structure and to increase bus fares. The route changes involve a 10 phase evaluation of the entire system. The first phase, which is scheduled to take effect in 2015, focuses on the lowest performing routes. The route re-design workshops and a public hearing by the PSTA Board to consider final approval of the changes are scheduled in August.
The proposed adjustments in fares include a $0.25 increase in one-ride fares as well as $5 increases in the 7-day and 31-day unlimited ride bus passes. There are three workshops on the proposed fare increases, August 24 and 25 and September 8, followed by a PSTA Board public hearing in September 9.
Pedestrian Safety Awareness Week, October 26-30
The MPO is urging all motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to be especially alert and aware during Pedestrian Safety Week, October 26 – 30. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in the United States in 2013. There were 501 pedestrian fatalities in Florida that year, including 25 in Pinellas County. As part of the Pedestrian Safety Awareness Week campaign, the MPO’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) works with the Pinellas County School Board and local public and private schools to distribute over 120 thousand pedestrian safety brochures to students and their families. The brochures educate and remind drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians of traffic safety laws and rules, particularly as they pertain to intersections, crosswalks, and mid-block crossing areas. In addition, Pedestrian Safety Awareness Week is supported through the cooperative efforts of local law enforcement agencies and the Florida Department of Transportation’s ongoing safety initiatives.
Teen Crashes on the Rise in Pinellas Based on Latest Crash Report
At their July 8 meeting, MPO Board members received a presentation of their latest Crash Data Report. The Report provides a summary and analysis of crash incidents occurring along the County’s major roads and parking areas from 2011 to 2013. Some positive trends included a decline in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and injuries.
However, Board members raised concerns about a number of trends moving in the wrong direction. These included a significant increase in crashes involving teens, and impaired and aggressive drivers. In the case of teen drivers, crashes increased by 61 percent from 2011 to 2013. “Coming up with solutions to improve conditions in the short term is critical,” responded Commissioner Dave Eggers.
Commissioner Eggers and others on the Board also underscored the need to increase public awareness of the safety issues raised in the report in particular with regard to high accident locations. Over 50 percent of the total crashes in the County between 2011 and 2013 occurred at 40 intersections. Fifteen of the intersections are on US Highway 19, including Tampa Road and Curlew Road at number one and two, respectively.
Data from the annual Crash Report is used for road safety assessments, consideration in road design plans, justification for public funding, project prioritization, and to identify Long Range Transportation Plan improvements.
Pinellas Trail Use Up By 20 Percent According to State of System Report
Over 618 thousand people biked, walked or skated on the Pinellas Trail in 2013, the second consecutive year the number of annual Trail users grew. This was among the highlights of the MPO’s 2014 State of the System Report released in June and presented to the MPO Board at their July 8 meeting. The biennial Report provides a snapshot of transportation trends in Pinellas County, including road, trail, and transit usage along with crash incidents and a mileage inventory of roads and pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
In addition to the growth in users, total mileage of trail facilities in the County expanded to over 100 miles in 2013, a 17 percent increase from 2011. Bike lane and sidewalk coverage grew as well. Bike lanes existed on 19 percent, 179 miles, of the County’s major road network as of 2013, a five percent increase from 2011. New construction from 2011 to 2013 resulted in a 1.5 percent increase in the mileage of the County’s sidewalk facilities along arterial and collector roads, paralleling 75 percent of the County’s major road network.
MPO Adopts New Transportation Improvement Program
Twenty-three new State projects totaling $54 million were added to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) with the MPO Board’s adoption of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015/16 – 2019/20 TIP at their June 10 meeting. The annual spring adoption of the TIP incorporates the new Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Work Program. The total budget of the FDOT Work Program is $2.9 billion. The new projects include the following:
- US Highway 19 reconstruction from Timberlane Road to Lake Street, preliminary engineering (PE);
- US Highway 19 interchange improvements from 118th Avenue to 70th Avenue, project development and environmental study (PDE);
- Interstate-275 express lanes from south of 118th Avenue to south of 4th Street, PDE;
- Alternate US Highway 19 corridor study from Park Street to Belleair Road;
- Alternate US Highway 19 corridor study from Belleair Road to Pinellas/Pasco County Line;
- 49th Street intelligent transportation system (ITS) installations from 46th Avenue North to Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard;
- Pasadena Avenue corridor study from Gulfport Boulevard to Shore Drive; and
- Keene Road ITS applications from Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard to Alderman Road.
Subsequent to the MPO’s action, the TIP is submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit and Highway Administrations for review. The TIP is required by law in order for the County to receive Federal and State transportation funding.
MPO Approves Annual Priority Lists
The MPO approved its annual priority lists for Transportation Alternatives (TA) and Surface Transportation Program (STP) funding at their June 10 meeting. The TA Program provides an average of $1.7 million in annual funds to the County for the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
The MPO utilizes a local and regonal TA Program list. The regional list includes projects in the urban areas of Pasco and Hillsborough counties as well as Pinellas. With the June 10 MPO action, the Board added four projects to the regional list including the construction of sidewalks on Park Street/Starkey Road, trail projects on 71st Street in St. Petersburg and along San Christopher Road in Dunedin and a trail overpass at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. No projects were added to the local TA Program list.
The County receives an annual average of $14 million in STP funds. Although these funds can be applied to projects supporting any mode of transportation, the MPO has historically used them only for large scale road capacity projects. Last year, the MPO approved the inclusion of congestion management, operations and safety projects on the STP list and will be considering whether to allow STP funds to be allocated to non-road improvements such as transit and trail projects later this year.
At the June 10 meeting, the MPO approved the addition of several projects to the STP list that were identified and prioritized in the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan. These included US Highway 19 reconstruction from CR 95 to the Pinellas Trail, Interstate-275 express lanes from the Hillsborough/Pinellas County Line to Gandy Boulevard and the reconstruction of Gandy Boulevard from 4th Street to the Gandy Bridge.
Courtney Campbell Trail Overpass Added to List of Priorities
The Courtney Campbell Trail overpass project at the intersection of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater is now on the regional priority list for Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program funding. The MPO added it to the list at their June 10 meeting. The Courtney Campbell Trail is scheduled to open on June 22. Officials are concerned about the safety of the people reaching the western end of the Trail who then choose to cross Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard to continue north along Bayshore Boulevard to the Ream Wilson Trail after the project is completed. Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard is a six-lane road carrying 50 thousand vehicles a day in this area. The City of Clearwater is proposing the construction of a pedestrian overpass there to allow people to avoid having to cross the road at-grade.
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.
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, use the information below or refer to the staff directory.
The Pinellas County MPO
310 Court Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
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