Wheels Come Off Hillsborough Transit Planning
Hillsborough County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization has concocted an impractical transit scheme that involves tearing down 10 miles of Interstate-275 in favor of a boulevard concept, a plan ranked last by a survey of Tampa Bay citizens.
The unfathomable concept attempts to shoehorn a cumbersome light rail system onto an already congested area of Tampa and replace a roadway that is part of the U.S. interstate highway system.
The City of Tampa-centric proposal also defies the MPO’s own pronouncement that I-275, along with Interstate-4 and Interstate-75, is the most important transportation infrastructure to be protected from storm vulnerability. It is a major hurricane evacuation route for Tampa and Pinellas counties.
The concept envisions a grand corridor, a la the Champs-Elysses, with six to eight lanes of traffic, a two-way light rail system in the middle, and elaborate landscaping with sidewalks on the edges.
A light rail system would not only be useless in a hurricane but an impediment to evacuation as well.
At the MPO’s last board meeting it voted unanimously to finance a study of this grand corridor beginning immediately north of Tampa at the intersection of I-4. The county MPO asserted the study was requested by the citizens, but it