A key element of the TBARTA Master Plan is to provide a transit linkage across the Howard Frankland Bridge (I-275/SR 93) corridor, linking Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. This linkage would run from Hillsborough County’s proposed Westshore station to Pinellas County’s proposed Gateway station. These stations would not serve as termini, but would allow uninterrupted transit movements from the St. Petersburg and Clearwater areas across the Howard Frankland Bridge(I- 275/SR 93) corridor to and through Tampa’s Central Business District (and vice versa). However, for this linkage to be possible, the Howard Frankland Bridge corridor must be able to accommodate the appropriate transit provisions. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) plans to replace the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge in the future since it is approaching the end of its useful service life. Therefore, the FDOT wishes to ensure that this transit study will determine the opportunities and challenges of constructing a potential transit envelope in conjunction with the bridge replacement.
Click here to see the various types of transportation choices being studied as part of this evaluation.
The transit study will help to answer such questions as:
- How can transit be included in the design of the replacement bridge?
- Will a new structure be required for transit?
- What are the transit alternatives that will be considered (i.e. rail alternatives, managed/dedicated lanes, Bus Rapid Transit, Express Bus, others)?
This transit study was not originally conceived as a formal Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Alternatives Analysis. However, this study may evolve into a full formal AA if funding and other circumstances allow.
The major work efforts during this transit corridor evaluation will include development of a purpose and need statement; generation of cost estimates; estimates of future transit ridership; identification of potential economic, social and environmental impacts; and the recommendation of a preliminary Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA).
What is New Starts?
Projects eligible for FTA Section 5309 New Starts funding include any fixed guideway system which utilizes and occupies a separate right-of-way, or rail line, for the exclusive use of mass transportation and other high occupancy vehicles, or uses a fixed catenary system and a right of way usable by other forms of transportation. This includes, but is not limited to, rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, automated guideway transit, people movers, and exclusive facilities for buses (such as bus rapid transit) and other high occupancy vehicles.
What is required in the FTA Project Development Process?
- Alternatives Analysis (AA) – Corridor-level analysis of mode and alignment alternatives after developing a Purpose and Need Statement that identifies problems and issues. The AA is considered complete when a locally preferred alternative (LPA) is selected by the local decision makers and adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in its financially constrained metropolitan transportation plan.
- Preliminary Engineering (PE) – Once the LPA is adopted, the local project sponsor may submit a request to the FTA to initiate the preliminary engineering phase of project development. During PE, a more detailed analysis of the alternatives is conducted, considering all reasonable design alternatives. The detailed analysis includes estimated capital and operating costs of the alternatives. In addition, requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) must be met. For New Starts, this usually means development of a Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), where a more detailed evaluation of each alternatives impact on the surrounding environment is documented.
- Final Design – Once a proposed project has completed PE, the project sponsor may submit a request to the FTA to enter the final design phase of project development. The request must demonstrate the technical and financial capacity of the local project sponsor to advance the project. Final design includes: right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, preparation of final construction plans, and request for a Full Funding Grant Agreement.
- Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) – The Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) is the final step of the project development process. FTA and sponsors of New Starts projects enter into this multi-year contractual agreement that formally establishes the maximum level of Federal financial assistance and outlines the terms and conditions of Federal participation.
- Construction – FTA participation is based on the details in the FFGA. This includes State safety certification, system and vehicle testing and start-up.
- Revenue Operations – The project is complete, operational, and in revenue service.
The FTA New Starts Planning and Development Process is presented in the diagram below: