Spending your transportation dollars
The Hillsborough County Transportation Task Force is finalizing a plan to bond our Community Investment Tax to improve transportation. The 500-million-dollar pie is being divided into: $250 million for roads, $160 million for intersection improvements, $40 million for transit/HART, $30 million for right-of-way acquisition, and $20 million for advanced traffic management systems and traffic signals.
So my first thought was, “How typically short-sighted! 82% for roads and only 8% for mass transit!” But County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who is the Transportation Task Force chair, assures us that this 500 million is just the beginning. “Then,” he says, “we are going to begin the important work of improving our mass transportation with strategic improvements and investments with a goal of another $1.5 billion from existing revenues.” Someday.
Today, the $500 million is the pie on the table, and it’s our pie, so let’s make sure they’re devouring it our way. Check to see which roads come first on the county’s prioritized list, keeping in mind that $500 million will only go so far towards the $1.8 billion needed just to improve our failed roads, which is only part of the $3.1 billion needed for all our roads. HART needs $162.3 million for busses & bus rapid transit. (We’ve got to stop electing leaders that allow development to put us farther and farther behind!)
OK, so we can’t have it all in the next 5 years. One thing we can have—but only if we ask for it right now—is bike lanes and sidewalks connecting to our Greenways Trails. County staff says bike lanes will be added to every road we improve. But looking back at that prioritized list of road projects, none of those roads are identified in our Greenways System as part of the planned network of bikeways taking cyclists to the major paved trails we are now beginning to build. So I’m asking our county to carve out a small sliver of our pie for our Greenways System for bike lanes and sidewalks along roads like Symmes Rd., 19th Ave., & Shell Point Rd. leading to the South Coast Greenway; and Old Memorial Hwy leading to the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.
Whatever your thoughts about spending your transportation dollars, now’s the time to speak up. You can speak to the Transportation Task Force during the public comment portion of their next meeting: Monday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m. in the Conference Room on the 26th Floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. (Their final meeting on this phase is May 21.) For information contact Lucia Garsys at (813) 272-6214.
You can also e-mail the task force (start your note with a request that your comments be distributed to all the task force members), and/or contact the individual members of the task force. Here are a few individual contacts: Ken Hagan, Mark Sharpe, Ray Chiaramonte.
We don’t get to spend $500 million every day.