More than 200 people packed the ballroom of the Tampa International Airport Marriott to be charged up by transformational projects in the Tampa – Orlando super region. Convened by the Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco MPOs, the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Summit featured dynamic federal, state, regional and private sector leaders.
Hillsborough County Aviation Authority CEO Joe Lopano welcomed participants to Tampa International Airport. He reminded them that 42 years ago TIA was built with a revolutionary design involving automated trams connecting the main terminal to airsides – the first such use of automated guideway technology in the world. Later on, he presented TIA’s Master Plan.
Hillsborough Commissioner and MPO Chair Mark Sharpe kicked off the summit. Stuart Rogel, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Partnership, stressed the importance of regional transportation to economic development. Mr. Rogel emphasized that with better local and regional connections, the combined Tampa – Orlando super region would be the 10th largest market in the U.S.
Congressman John Mica, from the Orlando area, is the former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He gave a pep talk telecast from his Washington, D.C. office. “Referenda often fail on the first try,” Rep. Mica said, “so don’t give up.” He emphasized the need for the region to speak with one voice, citing the Miami Intermodal Center as a prime example of regional cooperation.
The summit highlighted key projects in the Tampa – Orlando Super Region and throughout Florida. Highlights included:
- Rusty Roberts from All Aboard Florida‘s update on the Florida East Coast Industries’ exciting plan to connect Miami, Ft Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport with a new, privately financed passenger rail system. Of particular significance, these stations will be served by local streetcar, people movers, and transit circulators. All Aboard Florida is already fueling revitalization efforts.
- Mike Wacht of Sunrail briefed attendees on the construction of the new commuter rail system that will parallel I-4 through the Orlando urban area, with service starting next year.
- Metroplan Executive Director Harold Barley presented Orlando’s ambitious public-private partnership and I-4 Master Plan for expanding and adding express toll lanes to a 21-mile stretch of interstate; the project will cost over $2 billion and take six years to accomplish.
- Situated between Orlando and Tampa, Polk County has a referendum coming up in 2014 to swap a property tax for a penny sales tax; Polk Transit Exec. Director Tom Phillips provided a preview of “My Ride” plans tailored for each of Polk’s 17 cities.
- Likewise, Pinellas County has scheduled a 2014 referendum to fund light rail and expanded bus service. PSTA Executive Director Brad Miller shared Greenlight Pinellas, a plan that includes a premium transit connection to Tampa across the Howard Frankland Bridge.
Other speakers include FDOT District 7 Secreary Paul Steinmann, TBARTA Chair Ronnie Duncan, Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority Executive Director Joe Waggoner, Pasco County Planning Director Richard Gehring, Sarasota-Manatee MPO Executive Director Michael Howe, and Hillsborough County MPO Executive Director Ray Chiaramonte. Each presented multi-modal initiatives in their respective areas.
Hillsborough Television captured the entire event and posted the summit in two parts, available at on the Hillsborough County YouTube channel:
In addition, all of the presentations are available on the Hillsborough County MPO’s website.