Transportation summit takes big picture view

The daily grind of transportation snarls, and the glacial flow of vehicles at rush hours never seems to have any quick fixes.

But, a transportation summit at Pasco-Hernando State College will give residents a chance to get a big picture view of projects – current and future – that could ease the traffic burdens.

The summit will bring federal, state and local officials together to discuss what’s already happening, what’s in the pipeline, and what’s on someone’s drawing board.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore, and The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce will host the event.

“There’s a lot of information out there from what is happening to what will happen in the future,” said Moore.

But, instead of people “pulling bits and pieces” from different sources, Moore said the summit will provide a single platform to tie everything together.

Much of the focus will be on transportation issues in East Pasco and Central Pasco. However, Moore added, “We’re bringing as much information as we can in one night, that will answer a lot of questions and explain how things are going.”

Dwight Gwynn, the secretary for District 7 of the Florida Department of Transportation, will be on hand to address the state’s transportation projects.

Bilirakis in particular can offer insights into potential federal funding for transportation.

“I want to really hear from the audience with regard to projects at the federal level,” Bilirakis said. “I want to advocate on their behalf.”

Residents can ask questions, but Bilirakis also said, “I want people to be informed.”

Some issues that will be addressed are the recent traffic delays due to errant crossing arms at CSX rail lines at State Road 54, the Ridge Road extension, the diverging diamond at Interstate 75 and State Road 56, and a bill that Bilirakis supports on self-driving vehicles.

He has proposed an amendment to bolster efforts to accommodate seniors and disabled individuals in the design of these vehicles.

Bilirakis anticipates Congress will begin work in committee on an infrastructure bill by the end of the year. He expects this bill to have bipartisan support.

“There’s got to be some certainty with this, and long-term stable funding from the federal level,” Bilirakis said. “It’s something we can agree on.”

The Wesley Chapel area is among the fastest growing in the country, which is putting pressure on infrastructure, he added.

“It really is the No. 1 issue in this area,” Bilirakis said. “I want to address it.”

What: Transportation summit
When: Aug. 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Pasco-Hernando State College, Porter Campus, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel
Cost: Free
Details: Hosted by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore and The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce

Published August 16, 2017

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