New transportation plan needs major improvements

Despite having several years to plan the Go Hillsborough initiative, the Hillsborough County Commission has failed to come up with a meaningful plan to make transportation in the city accessible to all citizens. 

Currently, Go Hillsborough will raise the sales tax by half a cent and the $117 million a year will be used to improve roads, buses and streetcar routes. 

Over 30 years, this plan would raise $3.5 billion. But according to the Tampa Bay Times, the “county’s transportation backlog is three or four times that figure, between $9 billion and $13 billion.”

This plan obviously is not going to be effective in financially handling the transformations needed to ensure transportation in the county is efficient. Unfortunately, there are many other issues with the poorly constructed measure. 

For some reason, the creators of the initiative are determined to focus on roads within the county rather than seeking out more effective transit options. Mass transit is essential to large cities and makes traveling a breeze for those headed to work or out on excursions.

Currently, roads are overwhelmed with vehicles making what should be short, stress-free trips into long, anxiety inducing excursions. Creating mass transit options would reduce the number of vehicles on the road which would not only make travel time faster, but have a positive impact on the environment. 

Hillsborough is in desperate need of realistic transportation modifications but instead of well-developed plans, citizens have only been given vague proposals like the Tampa rail project and the express toll lanes. 

Now, the Commission is saying it plans to create a ferry to take south county residents to the MacDill Air Force Base and an express bus in the southeast suburbs. But pouring millions of dollars into such lucrative and isolated measures is absurd. 

Only a select few would utilize such a ferry and the suburbs in question are sparsely populate. Not only is the measure absurd, it is also extremely vague in exactly how such projects would go about being created and completed. 

Why not invest the time and money in something the majority of the general public would be able to utilize? 

Hillsborough is a massive county and home to USF, the University of Tampa, Florida College, Everest University, the Art Institute of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College. There are thousands of businesses and over 1.3 million residents. 

It is disappointing that after years of planning, the Go Hillsborough initiative will ultimately be useless to the majority of the population. 

The commission is expected to vote Wednesday and decide whether to schedule a hearing and vote on April 27 to put the measure on the November ballot. 

The Commision has three days to somehow transform this weak initiative into a referendum that could greatly improve the lives of the citizens of Tampa. There is much work to be done to transform the current plan into a meaningful agenda, but unfortunately there is little time. 

If done correctly, the new initiative could connect various regions of the county and make Hillsborough easily accessible to all who live within it. However, if the measure is not enhanced, millions of taxpayers’ dollars will be wasted on frivolous projects that will only benefit a select few. 

 

 

Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.

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