Hillsborough rolls out $800M transportation plan

- Hillsborough County is going to spend nearly a billion dollars to upgrade roads.

County commissioners approved $800 million to be spent over the next 10 years, in hopes of relieving traffic and accommodating a population that is expected to double in the coming decades.

The money was approved Wednesday, with spending focused on roads in the unincorporated parts of the county - areas outside Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace.

-$350 million for widening roads

-$275 million to fix roads

-$125 million on safety projects

County residents agree, traffic and roads could be better.

"If the timing was better on the lights, and the roads were just a little bit wider, we wouldn't be having these problems," said one driver.

"Five-minute rides turn into 20 minutes," said another.

But for a county that expects population to nearly double in just 25years, Commissioner Pat Kemp says these are just temporary fixes.

"I think what we have is a list, but what we really need is a plan," said Kemp.

She was the only commissioner of seven to say 'nay' to the $800 million, insisting that the county should be focused on doubling bus service and promoting van pools. She's also at odds over the $100 million the county is now going to spend to widen just 3.6 miles of Lithia-Pinecrest Road - from two lanes to four.

"You have two ways to deal with a congested road, and one is to have more efficient vehicles and travel on it. The other is to keep widening it. We are at a point where we really can't widen these roads anymore," said Kemp.

Though there is a million-dollar budget line for a ferry serving MacDill, those who ride the bus, like an airport worker who told us he spends more than four hours a day on the bus, say he deserves relief, too.

One commissioner promised that plans for buses should be made, as long as they could find an exclusive revenue stream. The county administrator says, while this is not a complete master plan, the foundation has been made to fix a backlog of problems.

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