Hillsborough residents could vote on transportation plan

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough commissioners are considering a plan to help ease congestion on the county’s roads. The master plan is called Go Hillsborough.

The proposal is designed to ease congestion – but at a coast. Commissioners will vote this week on whether to raise the sales tax by a half-cent.

“It is extremely important to have a good public infrastructure, roads, transportation and that paying for it is just part of improving the city that you live in,” Hillsborough County resident Eric Mitchell said.

A similar measure failed in 2010, but Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill believes this time will be different.

“We really made the effort to go out and find out what is it that they need, what are the concerns about, what do they see value in in terms of transit, roads and safety and that was what we got,” Merrill said.

In addition to major road and public transportation improvements, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn would like a portion of the city’s money to go toward a rail system between Downtown and the Westshore area.

“What we have seen around the country is when you build that first starter leg and people see it and they ride it and they recognize how it can work the other neighborhoods, start clamoring for the expansion, but you have to do that first leg first,” Buckhorn said.

The question now is whether voters are willing to pay for the proposal through the sales tax increase.

“I would support it. I would be willing to pay the extra half-cent tax because but it takes me almost an hour to get one way to work everyday,” Tampa resident Jennifer Gunnin said.

“I really do feel it would be better for us if we had that. Some people might not agree, but to me, I think it is I good plan; I really do,” Benjamin Wilson added.

Hillsborough County commissioners will get input from the public Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. They’ll make a final decision of whether to put the issue on the November ballot.


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