In the eagerly anticipated release of Tampa’s comprehensive mobility plan, Mayor Jane Castor presents an innovative vision for the city’s transportation future. This groundbreaking initiative, known as Tampa MOVES, aims to revolutionize city streets by implementing key measures to improve daily life.
Imagine Tampa in 2050 – a city with record-low daily miles driven, zero road fatalities and life-altering injuries, and commute times reduced to a mere 15 minutes or less. Furthermore, Mayor Castor envisions that half of all commuters will be embracing sustainable modes of transportation, such as walking, biking, or utilizing public transit.
To turn this vision into a reality, the plan requires a substantial investment of $2 billion. Developed over two years, Tampa MOVES offers a comprehensive assessment of the city’s current transportation infrastructure. The plan prioritizes the needs of residents over the next three decades, utilizing a fair and data-driven approach that is influenced by community feedback.
Through Tampa MOVES, Mayor Castor seeks to create a future where transportation is seamless, safe, and accessible to all. Join us as we embark on this transformative journey toward a bright and sustainable future for Tampa.
“With Tampa MOVES, we will make significant progress in communities that lack comfortable and reliable ways to get around by foot and bike,” Castor said in a written statement. “We will also invest in our existing assets by resurfacing roadways in Tampa’s neighborhoods.”
In Tampa, there is a significant need for improvement in transportation infrastructure and maintenance. Compared to other cities of similar size, Tampa lacks essential transportation investments, such as rapid bus lines and light rail.
Not only do Tampa residents spend a higher percentage of their income on housing and transportation compared to their counterparts in Pittsburgh, Richmond, Austin, Charlotte, and Orlando, but Tampa also experiences more fatal crashes per capita. Additionally, a larger proportion of Tampa residents drive to work alone, except Orlando.
According to city data, only about 10% of major streets in Tampa have suitable and comfortable bicycle facilities for all riders.
To address these issues, the city has developed the MOVES plan, which focuses on five core principles: mobility, opportunity, vision, equity, and safety. These principles will guide the prioritization of maintenance, repair, and expansion of Tampa’s transportation offerings.
“Our focus is: How can we use data to pick out where we should put our limited dollars and our future dollars?” said Tampa’s interim chief planner Alex Henry. “Where are they going to make the most impact toward our transportation vision?”
Henry, the leader of Tampa’s Vision Zero Team, dedicated to eradicating road fatalities and severe injuries in the city. Under his leadership, the city has already seen a decrease in roadway fatalities this year compared to last year. Out of the 17 fatalities, 8 were pedestrians.
Tampa’s population has been steadily growing, with an increase of over 50,000 residents from 2010 to 2021. The city is attracting more people than the national average, and to accommodate this growth, the MOVES plan proposes a shift towards a context-based design framework.
“This means the right design for the right place,” Bhide said. “And also harmonizing the planning process.”
But wait, how did we come up with this game-changing plan? Our dedicated city staff left no stone unturned. They conducted online surveys, held virtual meetings, and even had in-person town calls. In 2021, we asked our community members about their mobility challenges and desires, and we were blown away by the response. Over 400 comments poured in through online surveys, and more than 150 people actively participated in virtual meetings. We listened, and we acted.
The following year, we took things a step further. We hosted walking audits, engaged in focus groups, and organized an interactive workshop right in the heart of West Tampa. We went directly to the streets to understand firsthand what improvements were needed.
And what did we discover? The recurring needs were not a surprise. Our community is passionate about improving sidewalks, expanding protected bicycle lanes, introducing traffic calming measures, enhancing transit offerings, and increasing crosswalks. These are the changes our city yearns for, and with the MOVES plan, we’re ready to make them happen.
Funding is, and has always been, the biggest obstacle, Bhide said.
“We’ve got anywhere from eight to 10 times the funding needs compared to the funding available today. That’s a huge lift,” he said. “We’re a public agency that delivers on community resources. We can only do what we can with the resources that we have.”
City Secures $125 Million in Federal Grants to Improve Transportation; Aims to Attract More Funding Through MOVES Plan
The city has successfully obtained over $125 million in competitive federal grants in the past four years to address transportation issues. Now, city staff are hopeful that the MOVES plan will help attract even more funding.
Exciting news came in February when U.S. Rep Kathy Castor and Mayor Castor (no relation) announced a $20 million federal grant specifically for street safety changes near parks, schools, and transit hubs. This grant will provide much-needed financial support for some of the city’s initial priority projects under the MOVES plan. One of these projects includes the construction of a new crosswalk and the implementation of traffic calming measures along W Main Street in West Tampa, which will greatly benefit the growing commercial district. Other important priorities of the MOVES plan include creating a new protected cycle track on downtown Morgan Street and establishing a safe bicycle route from Westshore to downtown along Gray Street.
However, it’s worth noting that the plan has faced recent challenges, with four senior female staff members leaving the department. All four of these staff members were involved in the development of the plan and have expressed concerns about its direction. Despite this, the department remains confident in its ability to implement the plan successfully. When questioned about the potential impact of these departures, department representative Bhide stated that they have a strong pool of talent and will fill the vacancies soon.
By securing these federal grants and through the implementation of the MOVES plan, the city aims to greatly improve its transportation system and create a safer and more efficient environment for its residents and visitors.
“We feel very good about our team,” he said. “We’ve always been able to perform well with limited resources and that is because of our staff.”