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Located midway along the west coast of Florida, Hillsborough County is approximately 2,719 km2 (1,050 mi2) of land and 62 km2 (24 mi2) of inland water area. The county's population reached just over 1,177,000 in 2006 with the City of Tampa, the largest of the incorporated cities in Hillsborough County accounting for 28 percent of that total. Aside from the jurisdiction's three municipalities, 84 percent of the area is unincorporated. The region's population is projected to reach over 1,532,000 by the year 2025. The region's economy is dominated by a service sector, consisting of health, administrative support, educational, and staffing services.
Hillsborough County is served by several transportation systems, including an international airport and a seaport. The Tampa International Airport (TIA) and the Port of Tampa play a significant role in the county's economy. More than 17 million international and domestic passengers pass through TIA annually. Additionally, the Port of Tampa is the 12th largest cargo port in the nation in terms of total annual tonnage and moves nearly half the annual tonnage of all seaborne freight passing through Florida annually. Busy cruise ship terminals also play an important role in transportation planning.
The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) cooperates with three adjoining counties and the Florida Department of Transportation in transportation modeling. In 1993 these agencies, along with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, formed the MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee, a regional decision-making entity. This committee established Florida's first regional conflict resolution process for MPOs to work towards better regional cooperation.
Goals are Consistent with the Communities' Visions: The plan references the land-use plans for the various cities and towns in the region, noting the differences between their land-use/development and community goals. Tampa has planned to accommodate sizable new development as well as some infill in established areas. Plant City, with an economy based on agriculture, manufacturing, and distribution, seeks to maintain its traditional residential neighborhoods and development patterns, while promoting commercial infill development. The unincorporated parts of the county have planned for clustered employment, service, and residential development. These divergent goals and development patterns are accommodated in the plan.
The goal of supporting the economic vitality of the region is to be met in part by a policy of providing facilities concurrently with development and encouraging coordinated intelligent transportation systems (ITS) between jurisdictions. The goal of promoting accessibility and mobility options is to be met by providing multimodal terminals in major activity centers. In areas where development patterns do not support fixed-route transit, paratransit or other appropriate services are to be provided. The goal of enhancing the environmental quality and quality of life is to be pursued by ensuring that transportation plans support local development goals and respect the priorities of local residents. Rather than setting forth a blanket approach, the plan is built on goals that embrace the region's diverse priorities, histories, and visions of the future.
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