Brandon chamber looks at transportation future
BRANDON - A survey conducted by the Metropolitan Planning Organization has led the transportation agency to focus on better bus service, congestion fixes and intersection improvements. The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s Government and Economic Advisory Development Council recently heard from Rich Clarendon, a senior planner for the MPO, who told them the survey, conducted after a transportation funding referendum failed in 2010, is focusing on doing more with less. The 1-cent sales tax, turned down by voters, would have generated $800 million for road, bridge and transit construction. “Just because a referendum doesn’t pass doesn’t make the problems go away,” Clarendon said. The county needs $35 billion to build transportation by 2035. Without the referendum’s funding, it has a little less than $10 billion from gas taxes, impact fees and other funding.“Even with the referendum, there would be a funding gap,” he said. The MPO survey showed that the referendum failed because voters didn’t want more taxes, thought the costs were too high or were confused by the plan for future construction. An MPO focus group of average residents showed that their biggest concerns were traffic congestion and biking and walking safely. They also want the MPO to look on funding large projects incrementally. “More of them were interested in projects that improve the overall transportation system,” rather than local fixes, he said. “The major concern is continued growth when transportation needs are already lacking.” And 42 percent of those surveyed considered traffic congestion a “very serious” concern. Brandon-area residents should look at what the MPO is considering for future priorities and see how they stack up with their own needs, said Derek Doughty, co-chairman of the chamber committee. “Decide what you feel is needed and necessary.” And the public does have that opportunity. This summer, the MPO will develop scenarios for transportation needs in the county, and the public is invited to participate through a working group, which already has held its first meeting. It is not too late to to offer input on the county’s transportation needs through 2040, Clarendon said. Go to www.hillsboroughmpo.org and then click on Current Projects.