All for Transportation Archives - Florida Politics

Bob Buckhorn goes all-in with ‘All for Transportation’ plan

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is going all-in for the All For Transportation plan, which seeks to raise sales tax 1 percent to fund transit and transportation improvements.

“The lack of investment in our core transportation infrastructure has reached a crisis point,” Buckhorn said in his endorsement Wednesday. “We need funding for projects that reduce congestion, make our streets safer and provide new and reliable transit options for people to get to and from work.”

The All For Transportation plan would raise $280 million annually. Of that, 45 percent would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority for enhancements to Hillsborough County’s existing bus service and for new transit options.

One percent would fund oversight on how revenue is spent while the rest would go to the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City for road and bridge projects including new roads, pothole repair, repaving, traffic congestion relief as well as pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

The referendum would raise about $9 billion over its 30-year life.

Money raised cannot fund new highways, however; those projects that are typically funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Buckhorn joins a long list of endorsements from community leaders that includes Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen, Charlie Miranda, Mike Suarez, Yolie Capin and Guido Maniscalco in addition to Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller and Florida State Senator Darryl Rouson.

Several local chambers of commerce have also backed the plan including the Greater Tampa, Upper Tampa Bay and South Tampa Chambers and the local tourism arm, Visit Tampa Bay.

Through a recent op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik also endorsed the plan. 

All three local major league sports teams, the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Lightning, each contributed $100,000 to the campaign in favor of Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2. The teams noted transportation was a vital part of ensuring the quality of life for employees and provide better options for fans attending games.

Poll: Hillsborough transportation initiative poised to pass

Good news for All For Transportation: Hillsborough County’s transportation initiative should pass if the latest polling holds true.

In a St. Pete Polls survey, 48 percent of respondents said they would or have already voted yes on the All For Transportation referendum. Only 43 percent indicated they would or have already voted no.

The transportation initiative is Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot. Mail-in ballots have already gone out to voters. The initiative would raise sales tax 1 percent to fund both transit and transportation improvements, county-wide.

Of those survey respondents who said they had already voted, 55 percent voted ‘yes’ on the transportation referendum while nearly 42 percent voted no.

Among those who still plan to vote, 45 percent said they would vote yes while 44 percent would vote no.

The issue is perhaps unsurprisingly enjoying more support from Democrats than Republicans. Of the 447 Democrats, 57 percent support the transportation referendum. Among the 388 Republican respondents, that number plummets to 38 percent.

The survey results come as the Tampa firefighters union endorsed the referendum because they say it would increase public safety.

The St. Pete Polls survey included 1,095 responses from likely voters in Hillsborough County. Respondents were selected at random. Those who said they weren’t planning to vote were not included in results. The survey has a 3 percentage point margin of error.

The survey also included another sales tax issue on the November ballot. The one half percent sales tax increase for the Hillsborough County Schools District shows overwhelming support.

Overall, 55 percent said they would vote in favor of the referendum, which would authorize the additional tax for ten years. Only 40 percent said they would or already had voted no.

The margin is even wider among those who already voted by mail. Of those, 61 percent voted yes and just 37 percent voted no.

Like the transportation referendum, support is more widespread among Democrats than Republicans with 66 percent of Democrats approving and 29 percent disapproving. Republicans favor the plan 40 percent while 53 percent reject the plan.

Jeff Vinik personally endorses Hillsborough transportation initiative

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik took a rare step into the public and political spotlight Friday.

He penned an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times urging voters to approve Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2, the county’s transportation and transit initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“Having studied this issue for over three years alongside fellow business and community leaders, I realized this might be our best shot,” Vinik wrote.

“Our best shot to reduce traffic and give people more time with their families. Our best shot to prevent tragic bike and pedestrian fatalities. Our best shot to expand our transit network. Our best shot to invest in ourselves and our future.”

The All For Transit Referendum would increase Hillsborough County sales tax 1 percent from 7 to 8 percent. It would raise $230 million a year — $9 billion over 30 years — for both transit and transportation projects.

“It was balanced and pragmatic: road improvements, congestion reduction, pedestrian and bike safety, transit options and technology upgrades like traffic-light timing,” he wrote. “All of this to serve the entirety of Hillsborough County, so every single citizen in every single neighborhood will benefit.”

The citizen-led group that authored the referendum and gathered more than 50,000 voter signatures to put it on the ballot, made sure this effort differed from failed referendum attempts.

The 2010 Moving Hillsborough Forward measure failed and suffered criticism from detractors that it lacked detail and was too transit heavy.

The similar was true for Pinellas County’s 2014 Greenlight Pinellas initiative. That plan focused on a light rail route connecting St. Petersburg, mid-Pinellas and Clearwater. It would have also funded enhanced bus service and new buses.

But voters in parts of the county that don’t tend to use transit didn’t see the value in using their tax dollars to fund service in other areas.

The latest effort tackles all of those problems. It includes a detailed framework for how the money can be spent. A little less than 55 percent would go to the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City as well as Hillsborough County to fund much-needed road resurfacing, pothole repair, traffic congestion relief and other road projects.

The rest, 45 percent, would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit authority for transit enhancements.

But the language is vague enough that individual communities can use the revenue in ways that best suit their needs.

Vinik also weighed in on the potential return on investment that comes when a community has a quality transportation and transit network.

“This dividend comes in the form of shorter commute times, filled potholes, greater access to jobs, wider mobility options including transit, and safer streets for everyone. This plan would deliver all that in addition to helping grow our economy and preparing Hillsborough for the 700,000 new neighbors we will meet in the coming years. It is a local investment that can only be spent within Hillsborough County, yet every visitor to our county will help pay for it.”

Vinik joins a growing list of groups and individuals endorsing the All for Transportation plan. The list includes The Tampa Bay Times, La Gaceta, Visit Tampa Bay, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, South Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.

His support is not a surprise: Vinik has personally, and through his companies, given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the initiative since it launched.

More traffic: Hillsborough County’s projected 30-year growth could fill Bucs games for more than a season

More than 700,000 people are expected to move to Hillsborough County by 2045, according to the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s estimates. That’s a 52 percent increase to the county’s current 1.35 million population. An increase in residents means an increase in traffic.

The campaign backing Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 on the November 6 ballot is pushing that number as a way to gain support for the proposed 1 percent sales tax increase to fund transportation and transit projects.

“Residents can vote yes on Hillsborough County Charter Referendum No. 2 to fund improved intersections, make our roads safer, reduce traffic congestion and be prepared for the continued population growth. Doing nothing will just lead to more gridlock,” said All For Transportation campaign member Brian Willis. “We know that Hillsborough County already has a $9 billion backlog in transportation projects. That backlog means our roads have more potholes, more accidents, and more traffic. And, when I am stuck in traffic after work, that means less time at home with my daughter.”

The campaign wants residents to put the population growth into perspective.

Adding 713,000 to Hillsborough’s population is roughly the same as adding all of Miami and Orlando’s residents. The two cities have populations of 453,579 and 277,173, respectively, according to U.S. Census data.

It’s double the population of Tampa, which currently has 377,165 residents. It’s 28 more Temple Terraces and 18 more Plant Cities.

That population growth could fill Amalie Arena 34 times. It could fill the stands of Raymond James Stadium for all eight Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games and still have enough people left over to populate three more games.

“We have transportation plans ready to go in every community that just need funding. So, the bottom line for Hillsborough voters is this: We do nothing and face more delays, accidents, and lost time or we vote Yes to Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 and keep things moving,” Willis said.

The All For Transportation plan would impose a one-cent sales tax to fund transportation initiatives in Hillsborough County. It is estimated that tax will raise $230 million a year for 30 years totaling about $9 billion. The plan calls for 45 percent of the revenue to go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority for enhancements to the agency’s existing bus service as well as to fund new transit.

Most of the rest of the funding, less 1 percent is for oversight, would go to the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City as well as Hillsborough County for use on road projects like resurfacing, traffic mitigation, pedestrian and bike paths, safety and pothole repairs. 

Read more about All For Transportation here.

No ‘fake news’: All For Transportation clears up myths

With less than a month remaining before the Nov. 6 election, the All For Transportation campaign is trying to combat what it says is misinformation about the 1 percent sales tax referendum on the Hillsborough County ballot.

“With an existing backlog of $9 billion in transportation projects and an estimated 700,000 more people expected to move into Hillsborough County within the next 30 years, we can’t continue to ignore our transportation and transit problems,” said Tyler Hudson, All For Transportation chair.

But a ‘Yes’ vote in November will be a decisive step toward reducing congestion, making our roads safer, and improving our overall quality of life.”

The group documented several misconceptions it has heard from voters.

Some think the All For Transportation plan is the same plan that was rejected in 2010. That referendum was similar in that it would have raised sales tax 1 percent, but its provisions were vastly different.

Moving Hillsborough Forward, the 2010 transit initiative, was mostly focused on transit enhancements. Of the money raised, 75 percent would have gone toward those projects and the plan lacked restrictions on how the money was spent.

This year’s transportation plan allocated 45 percent to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority with most of the rest going to cities and Hillsborough County to pay for roads and safety projects, among other non-transit needs.

That’s another misconception campaigners are hearing from residents worried the tax won’t ease congestion or pay for new lanes or roads.

The referendum would use about 20 percent of the $280 million raised each year to pay for all of the road widening and new road projects in the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s long-range plan that are currently backlogged and un-funded.  

All For Transportation campaigners are also reminding voters that the county does not spend enough on transportation. There’s a $9 billion backlog in transportation projects and that number gets bigger every year as the county continues to fall short on keeping up with transportation needs.

The campaign is also pointing to a provision in the referendum that provides specific oversight responsibilities on how revenue is spent. The referendum — No. 2 on the Hillsborough ballot — requires an independent oversight committee with 13 members who ensure money is spent in accordance with the referendum by conducting annual audits.

The members cannot be elected officials or earn or otherwise receive direct or indirect compensation from any of the agencies allocating resources. That includes the three cities in Hillsborough County and the county as well as HART.

All For Transportation has widespread backing from bipartisan groups included the Greater Tampa, South Tampa and Upper Tampa Bay chambers of commerce, Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Times.

But opposition is out there. The Florida chapter of Americans For Prosperity launched an ad last week that blasts the referendum as an unnecessary tax hike.

However, other than AFP, there is no local organized opposition to the transportation initiative.

No Tax For Tracks, the committee registered with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections that fought the 2010 referendum, has not raised funds. Meanwhile, All For Transportation has raised more than $2 million.

Hillsborough transportation initiative rakes in $1 million as pro sports teams go all-in

The All for Transportation campaign raised more than $1 million during the second half of September, according to campaign finance documents filed with Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.

All three of the region’s major league sports teams — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Rays — contributed to the 1 percent sales tax referendum. Its aim is to fund sweeping transportation and transit enhancements in Hillsborough County.

The three teams each contributed $100,000 to the campaign.

The Bucs and Lightning play in Tampa, but the Rays’ stadium is in St. Petersburg where the transportation revenue could not be used. However, the Major League Baseball team is taking steps to build a new ballpark in Ybor City.

“Our organizations have long supported improvements in transportation for our community, and we proudly support the All for Transportation plan, which will reduce congestion, increase safety and expand transportation options for our fans and citizens of the region,” the teams wrote in a joint statement on Twitter.

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik also contributed $100,000. And he contributed $100,000 through his Strategic Property Partners entity, which is behind the $1 billion downtown Tampa Water Street development.

The largest contribution this reporting period came from Third Lake Capital, which donated $125,000.

Pamela Muma, wife of philanthropist Les Muma, donated $100,000. Sykes Enterprises also cut a check for $100,000.

Other notable contributions came from the law firms of Holland & Knight, and Shoomaker Loop & Kendrick, which each contributed $25,000.

Blue Grace Logistics and attorney Arnie Bellini each contributed $10,000.

The Yerrid Law Firm, Mosaic Global Sales and David Felman, a shareholder at Hill Ward Henderson, each contributed $5,000.

All for Transportation spent a little more than $341,000. Of that, $115,000 went to Mercury Public Affairs in New York City for direct mail, and another $49,000 for advertising. The campaign launched its first television ad this week touting the potential benefits of voting ‘yes’ for the referendum.

The campaign spent $87,500 for canvassing through Minneapolis-based GRSG Company.

All for Transportation has raised $2.15 million to date and spent a little over $1 million.

The initiative would raise $230 million a year, totaling about $9 billion over its 30-year lifespan, if approved.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority would get 55 percent of that to fund enhancements to its existing bus service and additional transit amenities. The rest would go to Hillsborough County and its three municipalities — Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace  for road and safety enhancements.

Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

AFP Florida fires salvo at Hillsborough transportation referendum

Americans for Prosperity-Florida launched 15-second television and radio ads Friday calling on Hillsborough County voters to reject a 1 percent sales tax increase for transportation and transit projects. Americans for Prosperity is a nationwide tax watchdog group that has chapters throughout the country.

“Plans for a $230 million tax increase would give Hillsborough County the highest sales tax in Florida,” the ad begins. “It would cost families hundreds of dollars every year to pay for wasteful spending.”

The ad then goes on to describe the increase as a transit tax.

The ad is in response to Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 known as All for Transportation. The 1 percent sales tax increase would raise $230 million a year and $9 billion over its 30-year lifespan.

While the Americans for Prosperity ad calls the referendum a transit tax, only 55 percent of the revenue generated would be earmarked specifically through transit projects by being allocated to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. Most of the remaining funds minus 1 percent for oversight would go to Hillsborough County and the three municipalities located within the county to fund transportation improvements including road enhancements and repaving.

Other allowable uses include transportation technology to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion as well as safety enhancements including crosswalks and pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

In a press release, Americans for Prosperity-Florida describes the proposed sales tax increase as regressive and harmful to “hardworking families” and one that would hit “the community’s least fortunate the hardest.”

“Hillsborough families already rejected an unnecessary sales tax hike in 2010,” said AFP-FL coalitions director, Demetrius Minor referring to the failed Moving Hillsborough County Forward initiative. “The burdens of addressing Hillsborough’s critical infrastructure needs shouldn’t fall on our least fortunate and hardworking families; elected leaders should be solving these problems responsibly, not asking them to dole out more of their hard-earned money to pay for a plan with more holes in it than Big Bend Road. We urge Hillsborough voters to oppose this harmful tax increase.”

Sales tax is considered regressive because it disproportionately affects the lowest earners who can least afford the increased cost. However, supporters of the All for Transportation plan note that the tax burden would be partially absorbed by tourists visiting the county and the benefits would compensate low-income residents by providing better transit access.

The 2010 referendum focused almost exclusively on transit and was criticized for lacking details and oversight. Because of its focus on transit, supporters also struggled to show value to residents in areas that don’t rely on public transportation like Brandon and rural areas.

All for Transportation gathered more than 50,000 petition signatures from voters throughout the county to place the referendum on the November 6 ballot and has since earned endorsements from the Greater Tampa, South Tampa and Upper Tampa Bay chambers of commerce as well as Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Times.

All for Transportation launched its own television ad this week.

More taxes? Shhh: All for Transportation launches first TV ad

The All for Transportation campaign launched its first television commercial Thursday, asking voters to approve Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 raising sales tax 1 percent to fund billions in transportation and transit improvements.

The ad highlights all the benefits and, in a strategic move, doesn’t mention the tax increase.

The referendum would raise about $280 million a year and $9 billion over its 30-year authorization, if approved. The additional revenue would be used for repaving roads, modernizing traffic signals and other transportation technology, increasing safety and enhancing transit options throughout the county.

“Hillsborough’s traffic is bad and only getting worse. New growth. Old roads. County referendum No. 2 will change that,” the 30-second spot begins. “Computerized lights to increase flow, new transit options, hundreds of miles of road improvements to improve traffic and reduce accidents. Safer roads means saving lives. We have a choice. More of the same or new roads, safer streets and less traffic. We spend too little on transportation. It’s time to change that.”

The plan also includes the creation of an independent oversight committee to ensure new revenue is spent transparently.

The ad hit airwaves on local channels Thursday. All for Transportation is also planning a day of action October 13 when volunteers will go on a community bike ride, phone bank and knock on doors.

“In an election year with one of the longest ballots voters have ever seen, All for Transportation is getting its message out to voters in every way we possibly can,” said All for Transportation Chair, Tyler Hudson. “This plan has something in it for every person, neighborhood, and business throughout the county. Everyone benefits from fixing our failing and deadly transportation network.”

The referendum has backing from the Greater Tampa, South Tampa and Upper Tampa Bay Chambers of as well as Visit Tampa Bay. Several Tampa mayoral candidates offered their support for the measure during the first debate of the campaign season Wednesday night. That includes City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez, former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, business consultant Topher Morrison and community activist LeVaughn King. Attorney and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik was critical of the plan, but said he might vote yes.

The Tampa Bay Times also endorsed All for Transportation.

The ‘Hillsborough Triangle’: The 3 worst intersections for crashes

The three most dangerous intersections in Hillsborough County are clustered into a potentially deadly three-mile radius.

Waters Avenue W. at Sheldon Road had 107 crashes spanning a little more than a year, data from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shows.

More than 200 accidents occurred on Waters Avenue at the intersections of Anderson Road and Hanley Road.

Between the three intersections there is nearly one accident per day along a three-mile stretch of Waters Avenue.

“Our roads are some of the most dangerous in the country with more than 20,000 people suffering injury or even death every year from crashes,” said All for Transportation volunteer and Tampa attorney Brian Willis.

The All for Transportation campaign is a citizen-led group that gathered more than 50,000 petitions from Hillsborough County voters to place a 1 percent sales tax increase referendum on the November 6 ballot.

Willis claims the increased revenue if voters approve the tax could lead to 800 lives saved by improving 450 miles of dangerous roads.

The 1 percent sales tax would raise about $280 million every year. A little over half would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority for bus enhancements and new transit opportunities, but the rest could be used for a variety of road and safety projects throughout the county.

The funding would pay for more than 600 miles of new streetlights to increase nighttime safety.

Intersections like the three on Waters Avenue could get safety enhancements like smart traffic signals that time traffic flow to eliminate backups and help prevent red light running. The funding could also pay for new turn lanes and signalized crosswalks.

Those types of enhancements are planned at 640 intersections throughout the county. The All for Transportation plan is based on the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s long range transportation plan that includes other enhancements like wider sidewalks and pedestrian bulb outs that better protect walkers from passing traffic.

The top ten most dangerous intersections based on the number of traffic crashes between last May and the end of this August include:

Sheldon Rd./Waters Ave. W. – 107 crashes

Anderson Rd./Waters Ave. W. – 103 crashes

Hanley Rd./Waters Ave. W. – 98 crashes

Hillsborough Ave. W./Sheldon Rd. – 96 crashes

U.S. 301 S./Gibsonton Dr. – 95 crashes

Waters Ave. W./Himes Ave. N. – 89 crashes

U.S. 301 S./Big Bend Rd. – 86 crashes

Bruce B. Downs Blvd./Fletcher Ave. E. – 84 crashes

Bell Shoals Rd./Bloomingdale Ave. – 82 crashes

Bloomingdale Ave./Providence Rd. – 81 crashes

North Hillsborough, South Tampa Chambers all-in for transportation tax

Two Tampa Bay-area business groups voted Tuesday to endorse the All for Transportation referendum, a one-penny sales tax increase to fund sweeping transportation and transit improvements throughout Hillsborough County.

The Upper Tampa Bay and South Tampa Chambers of Commerce each based their decision on referendum language that would provide funding for projects to relieve traffic congestion, increase safety, improve intersections, widen roads and expand transit.

“Based on the projected population increases and the growing demands on the already overburdened transportation infrastructure, the board believes that a carefully prepared and well-executed plan with clear metrics directed and controlled by a private sector partnership closely coordinated with and supplementing government-directed programs can materially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our transportation system,” said Jerry Custin with the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.

The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce covers parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and includes areas like Westchase and Citrus Park. Both areas went soundly against the 2010 Moving Hillsborough forward referendum that would have increased sales tax by one-half percent for transit improvements.

The All for Transportation authors, a citizen-led group, crafted the language to make sure the referendum had something in it for everyone to entice broader voter support.

Of the $280 million raised annually, 55 percent would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority to enhance existing bus service and implement new transit options while most of the rest of the funding would go to Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace for use on road projects.

“The South Tampa Chamber supports the All for Transportation referendum because we believe that this is the best proposal to date to provide much-needed, long-term funding for multimodal transportation options, including expanding our county bus system, but also providing opportunities to increase the safety of streets in our neighborhoods,” said Kelly Flannery, President and CEO of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The two chambers join the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Downtown Partnership, Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Times in endorsing All for Transportation.

Voters take to the polls to decide November 6. Joining the transportation referendum on the ballot is another one-half percent sales tax increase request from the Hillsborough County Schools District. If voters approve both, Hillsborough County’s sales tax would be 8.5 percent, the highest in the state.

Supporters note that while the higher sales tax might not be ideal, both funding proposals are necessary to prepare Hillsborough for the future and increase economic development opportunities.

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