Temple Terrace has planned for future population growth since the city’s Mobility Element group was formed by Hillsborough County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in 2004. Since then, a comprehensive plan was developed to analyze current infrastructure and design bicycle/pedestrian improvements for the city to implement as it grows and changes with time. The plan was adopted by Temple Terrace in June of 2009 and became effective in September of 2009, after the community showed its support for future roadway improvements at public input meetings.
The Temple Terrace Mobility Element’s Comprehensive Plan document suggests that the city adapt local infrastructure to increasing population growth associated with its close proximity to the University of South Florida: “Buses, guideway transit vehicles, bicycles, and walking are examples of modes of transportation which are alternatives to the automobile. In planning for its future growth, Temple Terrace officials should continue coordinating transit strategies with the surrounding areas of Tampa, particularly with the nearby University of South Florida (USF) campus. Improved linkages with USF were considered important by the citizens involved in the public input meetings.”
This is the purpose of the proposed shared path, which would run parallel to and south of Fowler Avenue between 40th and 50th Streets, connecting Temple Terrace to USF’s campus via the reserved rail right of way. The rail right of way is a wide, sandy trail where trains used to run and is now a convenient space to build a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians. The path will allow for public access to recreation and a variety of travel options for transportation to and from work, shopping, or class at USF.
The city’s comprehensive plan was based on recognizing and building on the city’s assets, such as the rail right of way and USF, says Michele Ogilvie, the Executive Planner at Plan Hillsborough, the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). “The University of South Florida is a major asset to the city. The University’s proximity is seen as the reason why the city has the highest education attainment in the county, why the city is attractive to families, and why the city is a natural for support of research and development,” says Ogilvie. “Temple Terrace is supporting the trail,” she adds, “and so if the City continues to champion the project, one day it will be a reality.”