Let the discussion begin
You’ve likely been hearing about it over the past few months, but now the official public outreach process has begun in Hillsborough County. What is this outreach process about exactly? It’s about building a better transportation network throughout the county. Because let’s face it, we’re at a pivotal crossroads right now, and unless we act to fix the situation at hand, things will only get worse from here.
We are at a crossroads
The situation at hand is this: Hillsborough County’s population continues to grow each year. But, at the same time, transportation funding continues to decrease.
Our roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair or replacement.
Our county bus system can barely sustain existing levels of service and needs to double its size to be able to efficiently and effectively serve the needs to county residents.
Our county is among the worst in the nation when it comes to pedestrian and bicyclist related traffic incidents and fatalities. Our bike lanes and paths, as well as other pedestrian/bike facilities are simply not enough to provide safe travel via walking or biking.
We currently have no passenger ferry services.
The TECOline Streetcar is marred in financial problems and isn’t considered as a meaningful mode of passenger rail transport.
Congestion continues to increase with no meaningful solutions in sight for the forseeable future, leading to more frustration, longer and more stressful commutes, and less time for people to spend with their families.
What is Go Hillsborough?
Go Hillsborough is a comprihensive community transportation plan that is aimed at improving the transportation landscape in Hillsborough County. The plan comprises of an extensive public outreach process by which I will discuss briefly in a few moments. This outreach process will allow for all county residents to have their say in what they want to see in our transportation framework for the future, as well as discuss all possible options and help build consensus towards the end.
Go Hillsborough is being spearheaded by the Hillsborough County Transportation for Economic Development (TED) Policy Leadership Group (PLG). This group comprises of all seven county commissioners, the mayors of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, and the chairman of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Board of Directors. The group has been meeting over the course of the past several months to put a comprihensive transportation plan together for Hillsborough County.
How will the meetings work?
The Go Hillsborough public outreach process will consist of four interactive discussion sessions, listed below:
- Understanding issues: Understanding what is at stake when it comes to Hillsborough County’s transportation network, including how the network has been negatively impacted by limited funding sources.
- Exploring Options: There are tons of transportation options out there. This session will allow for public input on what options and modes that people want to see; whether that is expanded bus service, commuter rail, or more roadway fixes.
- Making Choices: Not every idea will be able to be carried out. But, what can be done is carrying out options that are both beneficial for everyone in the county, while being cost-effective on the county budget.
- Finding Consensus: The final set of meetings will focus on coming together as a community to determine which options are most likely to happen, while figuring out how such projects will be funded.
Each session will be capped off with a telephone town hall, to allow an additional avenue for people to make their voices heard.
Letting your voice be heard
In addition to the public workshops and telephone town halls, Go Hillsborough has set up an I-Neighborhood App, which allows you to easily view and comment on various county transportation projects. You can also sound off via Facebook and Twitter, or via the contact form on the Go Hillsborough website. There will also be a phone number set up to leave comments at, which is 813-274-6922.
For more information
While I created this blog post to provide a basic overview of Go Hillsborough, the latest detailed information can be found on the Go Hillsborough website.
Coming up next…
As you may have noticed, this post is Part 1 in a two-part series. Part 2 will focus on the many challenges that lie ahead for Go Hillsborough; including learning from the past failed transportation campaigns (2010 and 2014).