In a brief conversation with Hillsborough County Commissioner Chairman Mark Sharpe, as he was on his way out to the Hillsborough County 2015 Budget public hearing, Sharpe wanted to make sure the WRMC could accommodate rail. I guess so, since he and his fellow commissioners have neglected roads in Hillsborough County yet again, as there is only about $5.4 million planned for roads in the 2015 budget currently planned for $3.9 billion, or about 0.13%.
In talking with Gao Ming, the FDOT Intermodal Systems Development Manager, regarding plans, timelines, costs, etc. He stated that this hearing was focused on collecting public comments for the recommended site, and that the site selection was not final. They will not know the final plans until the site is finalized. Then they can start on the plans on what to build, determine how much it will cost, the level of private participation, funding sources etc. The WRMC project is not yet funded.
There were several exhibits showing some of the ideas and concepts, as well as the criteria used to identify and rank the final sites. Several FDOT staff were available to answer questions, as were representatives from the Tampa Airport. TIA will connect to the WRMC via a new people mover, which is expected to take about 3 minutes to and from the airport.
|Site Map. Site C is the recommended site.|
Several sites in the area were considered and evaluated against a common criteria.
|Site Evaluation Matrix|
Elaine Van Aiken (at about 1:27 in the video), head of Human Resources for the DoubleTree on Cypress, delivered an impassioned statement about the 200 employees of DoubleTree, many long term, that would be out of work, as well as the impact of destroying one of the largest hotels in Tampa.
Another speaker, Ricky Roberts (about 3:37 in the video), was concerned the project is not taking into consideration the people that the WRMC will affect. He also expressed concerns about the increase in traffic in their neighborhoods, which they've already witnessed with all the increased development and denser development in the Westshore area. Roberts stated his concerns about the impact on their home values.
Who would think that increased densification would lead to more congestion?
FDOT also included some examples from Tempe, AZ and Athens, GA, as well as an artist rendering of what the WRMC may look like. Of course, this is all subject to change.
|Rendering of potential Multi-Modal center|
- The current work on that stretch of I-275 is slated to complete in the Fall of 2016.
- The "I-275 Express" lanes are supposedly funded (discussed in concept with an Atkins NA consultant who prepared the feasibility study for FDOT). That construction will not start at least until after Fall 2016, and likely take a couple of years.
- Given the WRMC linkage to a transit station in the I-275 Express lanes, the project dependencies imply that the WRMC may not be complete until well after I-275 Express lanes (depending on project design, funding etc.)
- This puts the WRMC opening well after 2020.
In other words, don't get too excited.
This hearing was part of the process. The final recommendation will be completed after all the public comments are received and reviewed by FDOT. The public still has time to comment until July 28 by going to www.fdotd7studies.com or calling Project Manager Elba Lopez at (813) 975-6403.
More details about the WRMC plans are at http://active.fdotd7studies.com/westshore/multimodal/public-involvement/public-hearing/ .