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Whit Blanton

John Morroni to chair Forward Pinellas board next year

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Forward Pinellas, the transportation and land use planning agency for Pinellas County, has new board leadership and several new members going into 2017. Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni will serve as the board’s chair; Clearwater Commissioner Doreen Caudell, vice chair; Indian Rocks Beach Commissioner Cookie Kennedy, treasurer; and Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, secretary. All votes were unanimous. Forward Pinellas is the organization formed by the merger of the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Pinellas Planning Council. Forward Pinellas is…

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It’s dangerous to be a pedestrian in Pinellas County, traffic report says

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Pinellas County has the highest fatality rate for pedestrians involved in traffic crashes among urbanized Florida counties, according to an annual report of traffic crashes. The 2016 Traffic Crash Trends and Conditions Report was presented Wednesday to Forward Pinellas. It also showed Pinellas with a pedestrian fatality rate that was 80 percent higher than the national average over the five-year period from 2011-2015. When compared with Palm Beach, Orange, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Broward counties, Pinellas ranked No. 1 in pedestrian…

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Pinellas County receives $7.1 million in state funding for trail projects

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Two major projects connecting and completing Pinellas County trails have received $7.1 million in funding from the Florida Department of Transportation’s SUN Trail program. The grants were part of the total $44.4 million the SUN Trail program awarded across the state. The bulk of the money — $5.7 million — will go for construction to close a gap in the Duke Energy Trail between Chestnut Park in Clearwater and Enterprise Road, a key part of completing the Pinellas Trail Loop around the…

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Forward Pinellas votes to support Tampa Bay Express

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Members of a countywide group that oversees Pinellas transportation and planning issues voted to send a resolution to their counterparts in Hillsborough supporting the controversial Tampa Bay Express. But the support had some caveats and it was not unanimous. Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers was the lone vote against the resolution. “It seems like we’re rushing to make some kind of statement,” Eggers said. “I’m just uncomfortable with moving forward this quickly.” The Tampa Bay Express (TBX) is the name…

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Metropolitan Planning Organization, Pinellas Planning Council are now Forward Pinellas

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Consider it a marriage of convenience, of sorts. In 2014, a special act of the Florida Legislature combined the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization and Pinellas Planning Council into a single entity with a 13-member governing board of elected officials representing the different communities in Pinellas County. After extensive consideration about its mission, role and responsibilities, the organization has been officially rebranded as Forward Pinellas. As a transportation planning organization, Forward Pinellas’ identity conveys motion, with a focus on helping…

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Regionalism is bar to transportation accessibility, Forward Pinellas director says

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Contrary to popular belief, Pinellas is not a “built out” county but one that has plenty of room for growth, according to one local transportation expert. “We have a lot of capacity for redevelopment,” Whit Blanton told the audience at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Friday. Blanton is executive director of Forward Pinellas, the new name for the organization formed by the merger of the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Pinellas Planning Council. Pinellas has the potential to add…

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Pinellas adopts new, long-awaited Countywide Plan

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After five years of polishing, Pinellas County’s new Countywide Plan (CWP) has finally become a reality. The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the new CWP at their Aug. 4 regular meeting. The updated plan contains new strategies and rules, as well as a new map. Its creation was made possible by Florida’s “Special Act,” which, since being passed by the Legislature in 2012, provides for a onetime repeal and replacement of the county’s existing CWP. Guidelines for the Special act’s…

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