R.I.P. Green Swath of Death is finally DEAD!

 Well, it is finally over. After more than a year of fighting with local and now regional government officials, the ill-conceived Green Swath of Death, Bypass, Beltway, Sprawlway, and most recently "Freight rail Corridor" that would have cut through rural and preservation lands in Hillsborough bringing with them certain sprawl, is finally dead. TBARTA voted Friday morning to go with the recommendations of the revised Master Plan that does not contain Corridors C or D on Map 8. George Niemann of U-CAN delivered the eulogy during public comments, and I couldn't resist dressing in all black for the occasion.

Lies, conspiracy theories and loss of government trust are all things that came with this experience of fighting the Swath. Massive citizen opposition has killed this idea many times over, including an EAR amendment, the BOCC, the South County Transportation Plan, and finally the MPO Needs Assessment Map. That is a lot of funerals, but it was dead at the county level.

TBARTA is regional, and for some reason it thought it would be appropriate to resurrect the Swath. So, should we have ever had to wage this war in the first place? No. The good news is that the power of the public prevailed in spite of the hidden agendas, political motives, and the powerful developers that wanted to make this road a reality. Mr. Neimann asked TBARTA to please nail the casket shut this time. Maybe now they can get on to finding transportation solutions where people already live........INSIDE the URBAN SERVICE AREA.

Here is an interesting note........before the final vote to approve the map with the remaining routes, commissioners, appointees on the board, and mayors spoke up about specific lines that did or did not make it to the next phase. They noted the actual placement of lines, some because it would never work and others because they don't see the exact alignment they want,and this goes on for quite some time. I have attended the last three meetings, and I found it funny that I haven't heard them speak out about this before now with the exception of Commissioner Nora Patterson of Sarasota, who is not shy about protecting her community. In other words, turns out - they are all just a bunch of NIMBYs like me. Finally, Patterson makes an amendment to the motion that includes everyone's concerns regarding the remaining lines. (I know you are dying to know if our Hillsborough representative, Commissioner Ken Hagan, said anything about our county...............he wasn't there). Mayor Pam Iorio gave them a lashing for their maps, though, since she didn't see the part of the Tampa Rail line she wanted. Bob Clifford of FDOT assured her that it was there.

Oh and there is more promising news. Chairman Shelton Quarles, former Buc, knew where the meeting was this month, and there were two great presentations given by agencies in our county (I can't believe I just said that). Was I just so excited that the Swath was removed that I actually enjoyed these presentations? No. Over the last year I have suffered through many presentations at the BOCC, the MPO, the Planning Commisson, TBARTA, and community meetings, so I know a good one when I see it, and these two were both excellent on Friday. The Hillsborough Aviation Authority gave a great presentation on how it is  ready for mass transit. Ray Chiaramonte of the MPO also gave an excellent presentation of Hillsborough's plans for mass transit. Both presentations showed me that our area has done their homework with respect to their plans. I hope TBARTA will do the same.

I hope this is my last post about the Swath. What can you do? Go out and celebrate!

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