Roads to sprawlville on new transportation plan
So far, an outer-county Beltway or “Bypass” is only a gleam in the eye of those developers who want to smear subdivisions all over the green spaces still left in Hillsborough county. But now your county Planning & Growth Management Dept. has proposed we carve it into the stone of our Comprehensive Plan.
Your county Parks Dept. strongly disagrees. They list 10 preserves that would be heavily impacted by the Bypass and other new roads proposed in the South County Transportation Plan, writing,
each of these roads has the potential to significantly degrade the environmental qualities of the above-mentioned Preserves through habitat fragmentation, hydrologic impacts, wildlife movement patterns, road kills, pathways for exotic plant invasion and alteration of site management techniques (such as prescribed burning). In essence, the efforts of the ELAP Program to acquire, connect, and manage these lands over the past twenty years will be placed in serious jeopardy.
The road they now call a “Bypass,” is the same road they previously called a “Beltway,” passing through Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough & Manatee counties, looping all around the Tampa Bay area. (See the whole Beltway on this old map, along with the original Bypass route, which is now toast.) Do they think we’ll like the Beltway better if they call it a “Bypass”?
Any plan for a multi-county Beltway or Bypass should begin with a regional vision, but this proposal loosely sketches half a Beltway on half a county plan, which is half-baked planning.
This Beltway-Bypass was not part of the county-wide Transportation Corridor Plan adopted just last month, on Aug. 23, but then it appears on this half-county map 6 days later, on Aug. 29. That county-wide plan was shown to community groups throughout the county with no Bypass on it, so citizens in north Hillsborough are blissfully unaware that this Bypass is about to be adopted. It is not fair to citizens in the north half of the county to introduce this controversial highway into a south county Plan amendment without consulting them, because if this south half is adopted, the north half would inevitably follow, impacting their neighborhoods even though they were not involved in its initial introduction into our Comprehensive Plan.
There has been no study done to determine a viable path, so the Bypass is being hurled onto our Comprehensive Plan as a 2-mile-wide swath, threatening the property rights of everyone within 2 miles of the monster. Are we planning to ask every property owner within that broad area to preserve some right-of-way just in case we build a Bypass somewhere in that 2-mile-wide “conceptual alignment”?
The ill-conceived Bypass is just one of many problems with the South County Transportation Plan, which is snarled with expensive roads-to-nowhere ripping through rural Hillsborough. It is a plan to eradicate agriculture, eliminate opportunities for rural lifestyles, and wipe out wildlife in south Hillsborough county, while devastating nature preserves and ruining neighborhoods, with taxpayers footing the bill for the expensive infrastructure called for. And all for what? Just so a few developers can buy cheap farmland to build more subdivisions full of commuters bound to clog our inner roads as they drive from far-flung suburbs to jobs & services in the urban core.
The Planning Commission has recently re-confirmed that we have plenty of room WITHIN the Urban Service Area for all the growth projected for the next 20 years. We do not need, and cannot afford to expand urban development into the rural areas in the way projected by this Transportation Plan.
We can’t afford all the infrastructure we need WITHIN the Urban Service Area—we’re BILLIONS of dollars behind on the roads we need now. We should be spending our money on infrastructure where the people are, filling our existing needs first and focusing growth where it will make mass transit feasible.
Finally, there are also some new roads and bridges proposed in urban areas that impact neighborhoods and conflict with community plans.
You can see the map and list of all the proposed projects. And you can come to these meetings to learn more and provide your input:
Tues., Oct. 23, 6:30–8:30 pm
South Shore Regional Service Center
410 30th Street SE, Ruskin, FL 33570
Wed., Oct. 24, 6:30–8:30 pm
Riverview High School Cafeteria
11311 Boyette Road, Riverview, FL 33569
I have submitted a letter with my comments about the proposed plan, including some objections to specific road projects. You can provide your comments by e-mail to these county planners: Wally Blain, Joe Zambito & Ned Baier, and/or contact your commissioners with the handy form set up by R-LAND, and add your comments to this Lithia organization’s list of objections.
In addition to the 2 public meetings I mentioned on Oct. 23 & 24, they’ve just added another one:
Mon., Nov. 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Pinecrest Elementary School
7950 Lithia-Pinecrest Road, Lithia, Fl 33547
The notice says:
“The same information will be presented at all 3 public meetings, as well as suggestions and/or concerns that are heard at the previous meetings.”