The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has a new executive director.
Carl Mikyska assumed the helm of the organization in March, and took part in his first MPO board meeting on April 8.
Nectarios Pittos, who had been serving as the interim executive director, shared some of Mikyska’s background with MPO board members before turning the meeting over to him.
Mikyska was selected after a lengthy search, said Pittos, who is Pasco County’s director of planning.
Prior to coming to the Pasco MPO, Mikyska was the executive director of the Florida MPO Advisory Council.
That job involved collaborating with the 27 MPOs in the state of Florida, he said.
Before that, Mikyska said he worked with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago MPO and the Federal Highway Administration. His experience in the transportation field dates back to 1990.
He told the Pasco MPO board members: “I’m active in our national associations and hope to continue to do so, to represent the interests of Florida, particularly as we look at federal policy.”
Randy Stovall, of the Pasco MPO board’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), told the board that at its meeting, BPAC was “most interested in the item of building some wildlife culverts under S.R. (State Road) 52,” which had been discussed by the board at its last meeting.
“Our ears perk up when we think: Is there an opportunity for some kind of a public use there? Some walking? Some bike riding? Whenever culverts come up, there’s an opportunity, perhaps,” Stovall said.
He also shared that information from the county, regarding the intention to build some restrooms at the junction of Starkey Trail and Suncoast Trail.
“Certainly, that’s very well-received. I think there’s a need there that will be served,” Stovall said.
He said that BPAC was informed of a strategy that involves building segments of the Orange Belt Trail — rather than waiting for all of the funding to be available before getting started.
“I thought that made a lot of sense,” Stovall said.
“We also received an update about the Hardy Trail here in Dade City and the Withlacoochee Trail to the north, and the (U.S.) 301 Trail to the south, and related to that, I’ll just say, some of us attended the groundbreaking here on Dade City, here on March 10, for the new bike hub
visitor center that’s going to be constructed about two blocks from here (Historic Pasco County Courthouse), in the center of the Hardy Trail.
“That will provide really a good stop for people. Bathrooms and other facilities if they wish to stop here, and go up and down the trail — particularly with those connections to the north and south,” Stovall said.
Kurt Scheible, Pasco County Public Transportation director, also updated board members on a few issues.
He told them his department is getting ready to purchase three more vehicles through the Florida Department of Transportation. By doing that, they’ll be able to pay $9,000 versus $90,000 a vehicle, he said.
He also reported: “We’re still seeing some of the effect of COVID, but we’re starting to see some of the numbers rise up. It looks like our ridership is starting to recover, slowly but surely.”
The county bus system also is planning to take a look at all of its service areas, through a route contraction/route expansion study.
As part of that, the department plans to look into adding some transit in Dade City, St. Leo/San Antonio and south of Zephyrhills in the Crystal Springs area, he said.
“We really haven’t moved the transit routes around in a long, long time,” Scheible said.
But, he noted that significant input will be sought from all stakeholders during that process.
The Pasco County MPO is the lead transportation planning agency in Pasco County that serves the following municipalities in Pasco: Zephyrhills, San Antonio, St. Leo, New Port Richey, Port Richey and Dade City.
According to federal and state laws, the Pasco County MPO is responsible for establishing a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process for Pasco County. Key responsibilities include the creation of the 20-year Long Range Transportation Plan, the five-year Unified Planning Work Program and the five-year Transportation Improvement program.
Published April 21, 2021