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Hillsborough Co. leaders pass 10-year transportation project

Project focuses on road construction
Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 01, 2017

"I mean at times it can be a little challenging,” said HART rider Qaadia Culberth.

19-year-old Qaddia Culberth catches the bus to his job.

"You can get WiFi on it so I think it's mostly convenience,” he said.

He likes the internet on-board so he can work or navigate but the Millennial wants more options to get around.

"I think a local city train. Like I say, I'm from Jersey, New Jersey, Jersey City, and I know, we have a light rail that takes you from Point A to Point B, maybe a doctor's appointment downtown. Takes you to the mall,” he said.

Hillsborough County leaders greenlighted a 10-year transportation project that largely ignores Hart, a ferry service, carpool vans and other alternate means of transportation...focusing instead on road construction.

Commissioner Pat Kemp was the only commissioner to vote "no" despite a spate of opponents.

"Why are we continuing to do the same thing over and over,” said Blannie Whelan of Tampa.

"Many of my neighbors are unable and cannot afford cars,” said Lena Young Green of Tampa.

"We need to address light rail. We need to address a much better bus system,” said Pam Eliopolos of Tampa.

HART’s CEO Katherine Eagan says they have a 10-year plan ready now outlining what $300 million in funding could do over a decade and why it's needed even if you don't ride the bus.

"If you have ever been at the emergency room at 3 in the morning, you used transit because the person drawing your blood probably came in on a 10 o'clock bus or they might be going home on a 6 o'clock a.m. bus,” she said.

Instead the plan spends $812 million on road construction, maintenance and safety projects like the widening of Lithia Pinecrest Road.

"We have the worst funded transit system in America. We need to try to catch up on that,” said Phil Compton with the Sierra Club.

Though voters shot down a half-cent sales tax last year that would've bolstered transit, some like Culberth say they are ready to new and innovative ways to travel.

"Same thing a bus does but it's quicker,” he said.

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