How people and goods move within a community affects the overall quality of life for its residents and has an impact on the cost of doing business as well.
Locally, the Hillsborough County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) provides planning resources to government officials who make decisions and enact policies about what transportation options residents and businesses have available to use. It is part of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to elected officials and staff members of the municipalities of Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace, and Hillsborough County on matters related to transportation and other issues of concern to the community, such as managing growth and protecting the environment. The TPO is an entity mandated by state and federal law and ensures that transportation projects receiving state and federal money meet established criteria and standards.
Membership of the TPO Board consists of elected officials from Hillsborough County, Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace as well as representatives from Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority, Hillsborough County School Board, Tampa Aviation Authority, Tampa Port Authority and the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission.
Work performed by the TPO includes the development of the county’s Transportation Improvement Program, a five-year transportation plan effective as of October 2021, and the 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan, which was approved in 2019. The TPO also reviews plans created by various transportation agencies, such as HART and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Residents can become involved in the transportation planning process by serving on one of the TPO’s boards and committees, such as the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Livable Roadways Committee, among others.
Currently, TPO meetings are conducted in a hybrid manner, held both in-person and online via the Hillsborough County Meetings YouTube channel. Besides policy considerations, updates to transportation projects, such as the ones underway to improve the capacity of I-75 from Moccasin Wallow Rd. to north of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. are made.
Amber Russo, FDOT project manager for the related Project Development and Environment Studies, said the work is needed to meet the needs of the fast-growing region.
“The improvements are expected to enhance I-75’s overall regional functionality and improve the interstate’s operating conditions,” she said of the plans, which call for adding express lanes in each direction of I-75.
You can learn more about the TPO by visiting planhillsborough.org.