With the merger of the West Central Florida MPO Chairs’ Coordinating Committee (CCC) into the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA), the process of setting priorities for regionally-significant projects is a little different this year. There are a handful of grant programs that focus on regionally significant projects:
- FDOT‘s Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP), a 50/50 state/local matching grant to add capacity on regional highway and transit facilities
- Florida’s new SUNTrail Program, which seeks to connect major off-road trails into long corridors that cross the state
- FHWA’s Transportation Alternatives program, which is divided into funds for specific metro areas and funds that can be spent anywhere in the state
Every year, each MPO solicits grant applications from local governments in its area, then the projects are scored and the regional priority list is updated.
This summer, for the first time, the MPOs will ask the TBARTA Board also to approve the priorities for TRIP and Regional Trails projects. And for the first time, the TBARTA Board will formally consider the CCC’s review of its own major regional initiatives list which tends to focus on bigger-ticket items that require discretionary dollars and/or legislative earmarks.
This year’s TRIP and Regional Trails priority projects from Hillsborough include:
- The Regional Farebox program led by HART to install seamless farecard technology on all the region’s buses;
- On-ramp improvements at the I-75/ Big Bend Road (CR672) Interchange;
- A project development & environment study for the proposed Tampa Bypass Canal trail;
- Construction of a portion of the South Coast Greenway in the Ruskin area;
- Construction of a walk/bike bridge over the Palm River as part of the Maydell Bridge reconstruction.
Past improvements in our area that were made possible by these grants include the widening of Bruce B Downs Blvd, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail, and the Dale Mabry Highway Advanced Traffic Management System in the Carrollwood/ Northdale area (funded but not yet implemented).