Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is announcing his support for the All for Transportation referendum on the November ballot.
The Sheriff cited safety in his endorsement of the referendum, which hopes will bring substantive improvements to the county’s transportation network.
“This investment in fixing our transportation infrastructure will help make everyone safer,” Chronister said in a statement. “More sidewalks and crosswalks for our children to keep them out of harm’s way. Additional bike lanes for cyclists to ensure safer rides. Improved maintenance and expanding lanes on existing roads to help relieve traffic congestion.”
Chronister added that the initiative to reduce traffic complications would also allow for faster response times for first responders.
“Supporting an initiative that reduces traffic injuries and fatalities while allowing for faster response times for first responders is smart and I am confident that this plan will help do that. I support these initiatives as they further enhance public safety in our community and directly benefit the citizens we serve. While it’s never a good time to raise taxes, the cost of doing nothing is staggering,” he continued.
The All for Transportation referendum will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot in Hillsborough County. It would levy a 1-cent sales tax in the county on most non-essential goods and services, with things like groceries and medicine exempted.
Tim Pearson, president of Hillsborough County Firefighters Local 2294, also announced his endorsement for All for Transportation.
“For at least the past 15 years Hillsborough County’s infrastructure spending has not been able to keep pace with our growth,” Pearson said in a statement.
“As first responders, we fight through traffic every day trying to get to someone’s emergency and each year it gets harder as more cars are on the roads. Firefighters and paramedics need infrastructure that allows us to arrive quickly to any fire, heart attack, stroke, or traumatic injury anywhere in the county.”
Chronister and Pearson join the Tampa Bay Times and La Gaceta in supporting the All for Transportation referendum.
“We must fund infrastructure that meets the everyday needs of the community while planning for future growth. Your firefighters and paramedics are ready to respond at a moment’s notice, we want to reach you and your loved ones before it is too late. As a first responder, I support the AFT plan to improve the safety of our citizens and visitors. As a commuter, I support being able to travel quickly and safely. As a taxpayer, I’m willing to do my part to make improvements for Hillsborough County’s transportation infrastructure,” Chronister continued.
The All for Transportation plan seeks a balanced approach to meeting the county’s transportation needs, including a 28% allocation to maintenance and vulnerability reduction, 26% to congestion reduction, 27% to transportation safety improvements, and 12% to transportation network improvements within the general funding provision of the plan, which accounts for 54.5% of all spending.
Of the total revenue raised, 45% would fund transit network improvements. The remaining half-percent of funding would go toward planning, data collection, analysis, grant funding and oversight to ensure projects are consistent with the Long Range Transportation Plan established by the Transportation Planning Organization.
“No matter where you live or work, the All for Transportation plan benefits everyone in our county including our first responders who see firsthand the tragedy that comes along with having some of the most dangerous roads in the country,” All for Transportation co-Chair Tyler Hudson said in a statement.
Hillsborough County currently has a $13 billion backlog of road, safety and transit needs, which are growing $1 billion per year. The county is also experiencing unprecedented growth with more than 700,000 people expected to move to Hillsborough in the next 30 years, the lifetime of the proposed All for Transportation plan.
Data shows 44 people are killed in traffic accidents on Hillsborough County roads annually, with the Tampa metro ranking in the Top 10 nationally as one of the most dangerous places to walk.
Transportation fatalities in Hillsborough County have risen nearly 40% since 2014. Estimates show the tax would save more than 1,100 lives, avoid more than 55,000 injuries and prevent more than 140,000 car crashes, which would also reduce traffic congestion.
Investment under the plan would create more than 350 miles of safety projects, fill more than 1,400 miles of missing sidewalks and reduce fatal and injury crashes by 35%. It supports 500 miles of new streetlight corridors on currently unlit roads, which contribute to nearly 40% of pedestrian deaths.
Four years ago, organizers with the group All For Transportation successfully ushered in the plan, with 57% of voters backing the 2018 referendum.
A series of legal challenges derailed the tax, bringing it back to the ballot this year. This year’s initiative is largely the same as the 2018 referendum, with few minor changes.
Unlike in 2018, which was placed on the ballot by voter petition, the Hillsborough County Commission voted 5-2 to place the question before voters again. That move remedies problems identified in previous legal challenges.
The new language also eliminates a restriction on expenditures for road widening and shifts a half-percent allocation from transportation planning to road improvements, changes meant to appeal to a broader segment of voters.