Ray Chiaramonte mentioned that some of the unfunded priorities of current improvement projects include an I-275/SR60/Memorial Interchange and SR 54/56 Corridor Improvements. The funded priorities include the Gateway Expressway, Howard Franklin Bridge, Suncoast Parkway 2, Tampa Bay Express, TIA People Mover Connection, which should be under construction in the next five years. In effort to improve transportation, there has been a tap in 3 million dollars in grants to support a regional fare card system, one call one click and a van pool program. In the van pool program, 7.7 million vehicle miles were saved last year and 308,431 gallons of gas were saved.
In 2016, Chiaramonte would like to change FDOT District 7 representative from a non-voting member to an advisor, to incorporate the chairman corporate committee into TBARTA subcommittee and update the TBARTA Master Plan every five years instead of every three years. The master plan studies are extremely expensive and eat into TBARTA’s annual budget. He explains the need for a merge of smaller transit organizations into TBARTA to reach a common goal of improving transportation in the Tampa Bay Area.
County Commissioner Janet Long spoke in the meeting stating that, “We have 9 govt. agencies in our community working on transportation; there is no synergy between them that have a mission and an objective towards the same goal. They all speak in silos.” She also explained how much wasted time is spent on conducting studies instead of making changes. Commissioner Long made it clear that going forward the public doesn’t have a sensitivity for an increase in sales tax after the defeat of Greenlight Pinellas.
Commissioner Long stated that, “I don’t know if 225 million is the magic number, but if you use those dollars to leverage state and federal money, then we have skin in the game.” Long believes that we cannot continue talking about 100-year-old tracks and trains especially with the advance of technology, we have to start thinking about the future.
Lastly, Evan Mory of the City provided a quick update on how the city plans on expanding parking at Williams Park after the PSTA move from the hub system to grid system. He highlighted that the city will be using back-in angeled parking on 2nd Ave N., which will reduce pedestrian accidents while also making it more convenient for loading and unloading vehicles.