MPO wins resiliency grant for the region

March 2018 – The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, in collaboration with the Pinellas MPO, Pasco MPO, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, and the Florida Department of Transportation District 7, is excited to announce we have been selected for the Federal Highway Administration’s Resilience and Durability Pilot Program. This Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area (TMA) project will help further the state of practice in developing transportation sector resilience.

On the west coast of Florida, the Tampa Bay region is often highlighted in national reports and news articles as one of the most vulnerable areas in the country, and experiences frequent storm events and persistent flooding. While the Tampa Bay region has not been directly impacted by a major hurricane in nearly 100 years, a series of close calls — most recently experienced during Hurricane Irma in 2017 — indicates the looming potential threat posed by a major hurricane.

The tri-county area has an estimated population of 2,797,000, with 36% classified as transportation disadvantaged, and the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area is ranked as the second largest metropolis in Florida. Our region is an important part of Florida’s economy, as a state hub for the tourism, higher education, commercial shipping, medical services, business/financial services, defense/national security, and agricultural sectors.

Rising temperatures, leading not only to gradual sea level change but also to more frequent severe storms with inland flooding from heavy precipitation events, exacerbate our region’s vulnerabilities. Approximately 39% of the region’s population lives in areas at risk from flooding, and nearly two-in-five of the region’s 1.1 million jobs are in zones susceptible to storm surge from hurricanes.

This pilot project is timely in that the MPOs are currently conducting their 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) updates. New federal requirements state that future LRTP updates must work on “improving the resiliency and reliability of the transportation system and reducing or mitigating the stormwater impacts of surface transportation…” Moreover, LRTPs must address “enhancing travel and tourism.” These new planning factors directly address Tampa Bay’s geographic vulnerability and economic dependence on the tourism industry. This effort will assist the MPO in meeting the new federal mandates as well as inform the LRTP updates for three MPOs and the regional LRTP.

The study will take 18-24 months and result in recommendations for strengthening our highway, transit, and other regional transportation systems. For more information, contact Allison Yeh at 273-3774 x 351 or yeha@plancom.org.

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