We know transportation plans can take a long time to become a reality. When you read about bridges being built 10 years from now, it can feel like an eternity away as you sit in traffic.
One of the core documents Forward Pinellas produces each year in its role as the metropolitan planning organization is a critical part of making a needed transportation project come to fruition more quickly. Last week, the Forward Pinellas Board adopted the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a document that shows all transportation projects in Pinellas County with state and federal funding for the next five years. Each year, Forward Pinellas reviews and approves a new TIP that advances local government, public transportation, airport, port and state projects. This moves projects along in sequence, with new projects typically receiving funding in the fifth year. And like all our work products, the TIP legally requires – and benefits from – the opportunity for meaningful public input.
The TIP starts with Forward Pinellas adopting a priority list each year of needed transportation projects. The Florida Department of Transportation uses that priority list as a basis for allocating funding in Pinellas County. The TIP includes projects that will be designed or constructed in the next five years. It also includes capital purchases like transit vehicles and maintenance projects like roadway paving and bridge repairs.
The way the TIP is created and approved is based on the phasing of transportation projects and the variability of funding sources that pay for them. Any given budget year may have more or less revenues available to apply toward a transportation project. The TIP is typically reviewed and adopted twice a year, once with projects that receive state and federal funding and later in the year with projects funded locally. Those time points coincide with the federal, state and local fiscal year budgets. Throughout the year, the TIP may be amended as projects advance, funds become available, and their details become more well-defined.
A project cannot receive state or federal funding unless it is both included on the priority list and included in the TIP. It also has to be included in the adopted Long Range Transportation Plan, which looks out 25 years into the future to identify the county’s travel and transportation needs. Forward Pinellas seeks input continuously from the public to identify transportation needs, especially when developing the Long Range Transportation Plan. Both the priority list and the TIP are adopted in a public hearing.
As a new TIP is developed from year to year, details might change – a project might increase in cost or scope, or the estimated year of completion might be pushed up or back based on funding availability or political pressure. Typically, a project only comes out of the TIP once the project is fully funded and construction is underway.
So, what do the next five years look like for Pinellas County transportation projects? A few highlights:
New projects for this TIP include
- Construction of a bicycle/pedestrian overpass on the Courtney Campbell Causeway at Bayshore Boulevard
- Funding for initial design of a shared use bike path or trail on 71st Street North between the Pinellas Trail and 38th Avenue North
- Funding for initial design to add lanes and reconstruct I-275 from 54th Avenue South to Gandy Boulevard
- Resurfacing Gandy Boulevard from US 19 to Grand Avenue and on 34th Street North from 44th Avenue North to Park Boulevard
- Traffic flow and safety improvements on 4th Street North from 30th Avenue North to 94th Avenue North
Multiple projects have a new phase added in this TIP
- Preliminary engineering for improving traffic flow and safety on Alternate US 19 from Park Street North to the Pinellas/Pasco county line
- Construction added for interchange, traffic flow and safety improvements on US 19 from 66th Avenue North to 118th Avenue North
- Right of way for adding lanes, reconstructing and adding interchanges on US 19 from Nebraska Avenue to Lake Street in northern Pinellas County
- Construction of the Treasure Island Causeway/Pinellas Trail Connection
Other projects have been moved to a later date
- Construction of frontage roads, reconstruction and resurfacing of US 19 from Main Street to Northside Drive is being pushed back by one year and is now funded in fiscal year 2020-2021
- Sidewalk construction for Hercules Avenue/Greenbriar Boulevard from Sherwood Street to Sunset Point Road is pushed back two years and is now beginning between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
- An extra phase was added for right of way acquisition on the Harn Boulevard overpass above US 19, pushing construction to after June 30, 2023.
The full list of projects is available here.