Why it’s TIME

Tampa Bay is growing up. We’re already in the top 20 most populated regions in the country. People are starting to feel it… you can see the construction in Downtown Tampa, St. Petersburg, Wesley Chapel, and many other areas. You feel it in the daily traffic. And these growth trends are not slowing.

Listen to Beth Alden, AICP, Hillsborough MPO Executive Director and Whit Blanton, FAICP, Forward Pinellas Executive Director talk about why It’s TIME Tampa Bay on The Current with Roxanne Wilder on Q105

It’s TIME Tampa Bay is a collaboration of the metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. As transportation planners, every five years we’re required to re-look at trends and where we’re going to be 20 years from now. As we assess this, we’re asking people what they think about the different directions we might go, as a metropolitan area.

The survey asks your opinion on three very different scenarios of growth and transportation in 2045. Each scenario is exaggerated to show the effects of investment decisions and growth policies. For example, what if we could install connected-vehicle technology to make roads 50% more efficient, and we allowed growth to continue to move outward? On the other hand, what if we focus on the cities and suburbs we have now, and put our resources into rapid transit systems to connect those areas? We have forecasted the impacts on traffic, job access, greenspace, and other factors.

There is no single solution. It will take a combination of investments to move people around our region, both today and in the future. Ultimately, we’ll take the best ideas from each scenario to build the 2045 tri-county transportation plan.

You might like some parts of a scenario, and not like other parts.  So we’ll ask you about individual parts too– for example, driverless vehicles, new express lanes with tolls, an outer loop expressway around the region, walkable and bikeable places, modern rapid transit by bus or rail, and new taxes/fees to pay for roads, bus, or rail.

The scenarios include some ideas inspired by other agencies’ studies, such as:

Our scenarios may include options that are not currently being explored by the sponsoring agency, for the purpose of public comment and dialogue as we look at the long-range future.

This is the first time we have done this as a tri-county initiative. Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas will jointly put forward a 2045 transportation plan to take advantage of federal and state funding. We’re sharing the decision-making process as one metropolitan area, because connections to jobs, universities, healthcare, airports, state parks and the beaches are important to everyone.

Each MPO will continue to do transportation planning for our own individual communities and neighborhoods, in coordination with local city and county land-use planning. Current/recent examples include the Brandon Corridors & Mixed-Use Centers study in Hillsborough, the Master Plan for Gateway/Mid-County in Pinellas, and the Wesley Chapel Roadway Connection study in Pasco.

We’re asking your opinion on how we should leave our region for the next generation. How can Tampa Bay best prepare for a thriving future?