The main part of the meeting, however, was dominated by discussion of the consolidation of Pinellas and Hillsborough County’s MPOs. City Council member Jim Kennedy, Executive Director of Forward Pinellas Whit Blanton, and County Commissioner Janet Long were all in attendance along with St. Petersburg’s business leaders.
The discourse revolved around both the nature and timing of such a merger, as well as the establishment of the new agency’s supervisory body. Pending clarification of new federal guidelines, 2020 seems a likely time for implementation; by then, various studies will have been completed. Consensus was that regional coordination and cooperation regarding transportation, land use, and economic development was both inevitable and desirable, and that a thoughtful and united initial effort would set the region in good stead for the future. Puget Sound, Denver, and the Twin Cities were held up as models of successful regional integration. Various extant entities will have to be consolidated or eliminated to facilitate efficient and effective coordination.
The meeting closed with an update on the Coast St. Pete bike share, including the completion of additional bike and pedestrian infrastructure downtown.
To read more about Tampa Bay’s regional integration on Whit Blanton’s blog, click here.