Hillsboro revamps transit plan; $66M trail fee could be reduced

It didn’t take long for Hillsborough County commissioners to begin slashing more than $570 million in proposed transportation spending.

During a 45-minute seminar Wednesday, the commission majority said they would cut $66 million from plans to build bike lanes and sidewalks and $99 million from bridge repairs, intersection work as suggested by County Executive Bonnie Wise. and planned spending on security projects.

The result is that the county spent $424 million on transportation, with repairing roads, repairing sidewalks and advancing nine road construction projects remaining top priorities. The cuts allow the county to propose sharing $145 million with the cities of Tampa, Temple and Plant.

However, the money is not guaranteed just yet. The state directed the county to develop a list of potential transportation projects that could be funded with $569.7 million managed from the repealed transportation sales tax.

Voters approved a 1% sales tax on transportation in 2018, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in February 2021 under a challenge from former Commissioner Stacy White. He argued the tax was illegal because the final distribution of spending was not overseen by elected officials. Instead, they are included in referendum ballot language.

The circuit judge also ruled that the state legislature should decide how 26 months of sales tax revenue should be spent — plus interest. The workshop was held Wednesday after the state Department of Revenue asked the county to recommend the program.

Initially, county staff proposed A list totaling $589 million Let members have a choice. Several immediately opted to cut funding for trails.

“That’s a luxury. We don’t really need that,” Commissioner Gwen Myers said.

But commission chair Ken Hagan has asked for a cost proposal to complete the next section of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. That’s $9 million, Wise said. Commissioner Pat Kemp proposed including all pilot projects and sending the state a list of more than $424 million so lawmakers can make their own choices.

She also asked that the list include $25 million to build a new maintenance and operations center for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Michael Owen wants to set aside construction funds to expand Lithia-Pinecrest Road. The list includes $10 million in design work but no construction costs. It has an estimated cost of $200 million.

“I fully expect that I will be alone in this situation,” Irving said.

The committee is scheduled to vote on its final list on Feb. 15. Ultimately, however, the decision rests with state lawmakers.

“I hope they take what we send them seriously and not throw it out the window, which is possible,” Owen said.

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The suggested spending amounts as of Wednesday are:

  • $130 million to pave 680 miles of road.
  • $116 million for congestion relief.
  • $81 million for crossover projects.
  • $40 million to repair 300,000 feet of sidewalk.
  • $37 million for safety projects, including improved walking routes to schools.
  • $20 million to repair and replace bridges.
  • $124.2 million to the City of Tampa.
  • $12.7 million to the City of Temple Terrace.
  • $8.57 million donated to Plant City.