After more than 32 workshops over three months, we’ve just entered the consensus phase of the GO Hillsborough community engagement. So far, we’ve asked residents like you to consider the issues drivers, commuters, bicyclists and pedestrians face when it comes to worsening traffic flow and congestion. We’ve also asked you to explore a variety of options and make some tough choices regarding potential solutions. In this phase of our ongoing discussions, we look to find consensus.

Our county is vast in size, and of course, meeting participants have varied priorities. That said, when considered from the community-wide perspective, the top four categories of priorities are maintenance, better roads (including intersections), transit options, more sidewalks and bike lakes lanes. Participants have also told us that they value safety, mobility, quality of life, choice and stewardship.

Our citizens strongly realize that traffic and congestion is getting worse every day, and that we have to address those issues now so that we don’t continue to experience even more. But now comes the hard part: how do we pay for all those priorities?

Consider this: on average, resurfacing an existing road costs between $225,000 and $900,000 per mile. Replacing a bridge can total about $2.7 million – and that doesn’t include planning, design, construction or future maintenance. The county faces $750 million in maintenance needs.

Revenue from gas taxes and property taxes is not enough. Even if we add more toll roads, require those responsible for new growth to pay a more equitable share and utilize federal and state grants, Hillsborough County still won’t be able to adequately address our traffic flow and congestion crisis. Simply said, the longer we wait, the worse it gets.

Now more than ever, we need your input. Please be sure to join us for any or all of our final community meetings: May 12, May 18 or May 19. You may also choose to take part in our final Telephone Town Hall meeting on May 21. You can RSVP by visiting www.gohillsborough.org.