Monday, October 25, 2021

PSTA Forcing Road Diets in Pinellas County As Even the Times Admits Road Diet Lane Reductions Causes More Traffic Congestion -

The Tampa Bay Times admits that vehicle lane reductions aka Road Diets causes congestion. 

According to this Times article of October 21, 2021, a temporary lane reduction to one lane to remove an out-of-service reclaimed water pipe will cause more congestion on westbound Pasadena Ave S. The lane closure is from Matthews Road S to Sun Island Dr on Pasadena Ave S.

Of course that is true. We know that when vehicle lanes are removed for whatever reason, it causes more congestion and can cause more hazardous road conditions. 

However, the Times never sounded a similar warning about the increased traffic congestion that will result from PSTA's costly, unneeded and duplicative Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle aka the "SunRunner". The BRT boondoggle permanently eliminates valuable lanes of vehicle traffic and parking for bus only lanes on First Avenue North and South in St. Petersburg. The BRT boondoggle also permanently eliminates valuable vehicle lanes of traffic on State owned Pasadena Ave S - the main road artery through S Pasadena.

These permanent Road Diets are being implemented without one public hearing being held. Pasadena Avenue S is a State Road and the main artery through S Pasadena. S Pasadena city council and S Pasadena residents strongly OPPOSED the Road Diet but FDOT shamefully allowed the Road Diet that will increase congestion in an already congested, hazardous area right before the Corey Causeway Bridge. FDOT never held one public hearing before rubber stamping their Road Diet approval of a State owned road.

This must change....because the Transportation Planning Organizations of both Pinellas and Hillsborough have miles and miles of Road Diets throughout their transportation plans. Unbeknownst to most, the 2018 unlawful and illegal All for Transportation rail tax included funding hundreds of miles of Road Diets in Hillsborough County that would cause more congestion.

FDOT has also rubber stamped removing valuable lanes of traffic for PSTA [empty] bus only lanes on State owned Road 34th Street S between 22nd Avenue S and 54th Avenue S. About a half dozen or more large towering new apartment complexes with large parking garages for vehicles, have recently opened or are about to open along this route with more coming. Obviously, those moving to these new towering complexes are bring their vehicles and are not expected to ride PSTA's buses.

Again, no public hearing was held about the 34th St S Road Diet and it is being done under the radar of an FDOT repaving project. Everyone the Eye has spoken to who live nearby this planned Road Diet in Pinellas County knew nothing about it....and they are appalled. 

We need to stop the Road Diet agenda in fast growing Tampa Bay and Florida. We need very very strict criteria before any Road Diet is proposed by any jurisdiction.

Reform is needed ASAP. The State must start requiring at least 1, if not 2, public hearings held in every jurisdiction where a Road Diet is being proposed BEFORE any decision is made to implement any Road Diet. Those impacted by the Road Diets have a right to be publicly heard in front of the decision makers before any vehicle lane that taxpayers have paid for and have been paying to maintain is removed.

We have posted many many times about PSTA's costly, unneeded and duplicative Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle aka the "SunRunner". This BRT boondoggle will run from downtown St. Petersburg through S Pasadena to St. Pete Beach - duplicating an existing bus route that does not go away with the new costly service. Simply search on the Eye for "PSTA Central Avenue BRT" to find those posts.

Residents of S Pasadena and St. Pete Beach told PSTA directly they opposed the BRT boondoggle and Road Diets. The cities of S Pasadena and St. Pete Beach formally OPPOSED the BRT boondoggle passing Resolutions unanimously in opposition. They were all ignored by PSTA, the governing PSTA Board, the Pinellas transportation planning organization "Forward Pinellas" and FDOT. 

PSTA's governing board, comprised of all elected officials except for 2 citizen members, has been covering for PSTA's fiscal mismanagement, incompetence and malfeasance for years. 

PSTA's CEO Brad Miller was caught misusing Federal transit security funds on electioneering activities for PSTA's Greenlight Pinellas rail tax boondoggle in 2014. Miller was forced to return to the Feds over $300K of the federal funds PSTA was caught misusing on campaign activities. 

Instead of doing the responsible thing and firing Miller, the PSTA Board kept him. While PSTA's ridership has crashed and tanked, the PSTA Board has continued to give Miller pay raises for years since. This is malfeasance, a display of unaccountability and fiscal irresponsibility by the PSTA Board.

PSTA clearly stated in their federal grant request to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) they cannot operate the BRT boondoggle without a new funding source. In other words, operating the BRT boondoggle will bankrupt PSTA without new funding.

PSTA's grant request to FTA stating PSTA
needs new funding to operate their BRT boondoggle as
their operating expenses escalate

PSTA ridership was always anemic before the pandemic. Post-pandemic ridership has tanked even more as people prefer the safety and security of individual vehicles. The BRT Boondoggle drastically increases PSTA's operating expenses as PSTA ridership tanks. PSTA and the PSTA Board knew this....they don't care. 

H/T to Tom Rask for pointing out: 

"PSTA's own numbers show that "paying passenger" bus trips are now 46% lower than they were for FY 2015. As you can see [below], the passenger collapse continues as we speak, with this September having 25.3% percent fewer passengers than September last year."

More malfeasance from PSTA when they lied to the FTA that the city of St. Pete Beach was contributing $1.5M to the BRT boondoggle. St. Pete Beach OPPOSED the BRT boondoggle and never agreed to contribute a penny. 

And more malfeasance from PSTA in 2017 when the PSTA Board voted only to approve a route alignment of the BRT boondoggle that ended at 75th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard. But PSTA lied to the FTA that the BRT boondoggle route was ending at the Don Cesar on Gulf Blvd. 

Today's lessons are:

Stop the current Road Diet agenda that is causing more traffic congestion....even the Times admits lane reductions increases congestion. 

Don't Trust PSTA! 

No taxpayer bailouts for fiscally mismanaged PSTA.

If the Times can report warnings about increased traffic congestion from "temporary" lane reductions, the Times can warn the public about increased traffic congestion from "permanent" lane reductions.

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