South Coast Greenway now fully funded & prioritized!
Thanks to all who joined forces to support the South Coast Greenway, today the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted unanimously to:
(1) fully fund all 6 segments of the South Coast Greenway, and
(2) raise the priority of this multi-use paved trail into the top 20% of all projects listed in the 2035 Transportation Plan
This is exactly what was requested by several organizations and many citizens across the county, so let’s all thank our representatives for listening to us and responding to our requests.
You can thank the MPO board by e-mailing MPO administrator Linda Ferraro and asking her to forward your message to all the MPO board members: email@example.com (Also see this list of the full board, who all voted in support.)
Please send special thanks to these representatives who led the board to this action:
Mark Sharpe <firstname.lastname@example.org> made today’s motion, including not only the funding, but also the lift in priority. The funding is important, but raising the priority is critical to getting the Greenway built sooner rather than later. Sharpe recognized our disgraceful position as one of the deadliest spots in America for cyclists & pedestrians, and spoke movingly about having attended the funeral of a well-loved & respected retired Admiral who was killed while riding his bicycle just last week, concluding that we must invest in safe cycling & walking infrastructure.
Rose Ferlita <email@example.com> seconded Sharpe’s motion and gave a strong report of the MPO Policy Committee’s favorable recommendation on this issue. Ferlita chaired the Policy Committee and lent considerable support to this Greenway which connects Ruskin through Apollo Beach and Gibsonton to Tampa in her district.
Mary Mulhern <firstname.lastname@example.org> & Linda Saul-Sena <email@example.com> were staunch advocates leading both the Policy Committee and the Livable Roadways Committee to recommend full funding for the Greenway. These recommendations carry great weight with the MPO board. Both Mulhern & Saul-Sena did their homework on this issue and worked hard to steer these committees our way.
These citizens helped a lot:
Don Schings, chair of the South Shore Round Table, was a very compelling advocate at the MPO Policy Committee meeting and at today’s Public Hearing. Lyn Safien & Vera Chapman brought this issue to the attention of the South Shore Democratic Club, and Lyn was a terrific speaker at the hearing. Alan Snel raised awareness through SWFBUD’s “Bicycle Stories” blog and wrote a letter from that group. Bruce Marsh & Dr. Hal Ott talked up the Greenway to MPO Board member Kevin Beckner last Friday when he held office hours in Ruskin.Thanks to everyone who stood up & spoke up for the Greenway at today’s hearing: Don Schings, Lyn Safien, Marcella O’Steen, Mike Fite, Gail Parsons, Pam Clouston, George Niemann, Chip Thomas, Peggy Hannon (& me). Thanks to Mike Peterson (SSRT), Sandy Council (RCDF), Fred Jacobsen (SHED Council) & Allen Witt (HCC) who each wrote letters for their respective organizations; and to Tampa Bay Sierra Club for posting the item in their newsletter and on their web site.
The support of all these groups made for a very impressive & effective broad-based coalition:
- South Shore Round Table (an alliance of all the chambers & civic organizations of Riverview, Gibsonton, Balm, Wimauma, Sun City Center, Apollo Beach & Ruskin)
- Ruskin Community Development Foundation
- South Hillsborough Economic Development Council
- SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers)
- Tampa Bay Sierra Club
- Hillsborough Community College South Shore Campus administration
- South Shore Democratic Club
Finally, thanks to everyone who sent an e-mail to the board members supporting this Greenway. It’s a great accomplishment to move government to make a change to a $12-billion 25-year Plan like this, and we couldn’t have done it without every bit of the help given by everyone.
Two months ago, funding for the South Coast Greenway had been dropped entirely from the 25-year Transportation Plan, and the on-road Bikeways along Shell Point Road & 19th Ave., connecting the Greenway to south county communities, had also slipped off the list of funded projects. Thanks to the efforts of many citizens and groups, those Bikeways were restored as funded projects, and placed very high on the priority list (#46 out of 505), and the South Coast Greenway is now fully funded, and prioritized within the top 20% of all projects!
Also see WMNF Evening News report with audio & video.
For background, see this previous article on efforts to save the Greenway; and this one on past efforts to fund the connecting on-road Bikeways.