Posted by: Vincent Cordo on Monday, May 2, 2022


All aboard!!! What better way to start the day than to be on a Pirate Water Taxi along the Hillsborough River? Introduced by the amazing Amanda Uliano and led by our day chairs: David Loos (LT’18), Senior Account Executive, National Accounts, Workscapes; and Todd O’Donnell (LT’16), Director of Business Development – Water/Wastewater, Wharton Smith, Transportation and Sustainability Day was off to a great start.

We kicked off the voyage with a history lesson from Rodney Kite-Powell, Tampa Bay History Center, Director of the Touchton Map Library and Florida Center for Cartographic Education. Flowing 60 miles through Pasco and Hillsborough counties to an outlet in the city of Tampa, the Hillsborough River provided a fast means of transportation for the surrounding communities. We also learned a bit about Harbour Island, originally known as Seddon Island, which was named after W. L. Seddon, chief engineer for the Seaboard Air Line Railway. Between 1985 and January 1999, Harbour Island was linked to Downtown Tampa by the Harbour Island People Mover, an automated rubber-tired tram manufactured by Otis Transportation Systems. The river is heavily used to this day, but remember, the river has gators, so tubing and swimming is not allowed.

Our day continued with a stop at Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) on Tampa's Riverwalk. We were greeted by the Buccaneer bronze masterpiece, sculpted by artist Vala Ola. Having a vibrant fusion of ingredients from Florida waters, Ulele was a fitting stop for a bite to eat while we learned about PURE (Purify Usable Resources for the Environment), led by Chuck Weber, City of Tampa, Water Department, Director and Brad Baird, City of Tampa, Infrastructure, Deputy Administrator.

The PURE project is still under development. Under PURE, Tampa will redirect up to 50 million gallons per day of highly treated reclaimed water from the City’s Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant that would otherwise be discharged into Hillsborough Bay. The water will be purified to exceed federal and state drinking water standards and repurposed for beneficial use. Tampa is examining the best options for reusing its reclaimed water to benefit its customers and protect the environment. Water is LIFE. Thank you to Chuck and Brad for all they are doing!

Next stop…Tampa International Airport!

Tampa Bay is home to two international airports, including top-rated Tampa International Airport, which offers nonstop flights to more than 60 domestic destinations and ten international markets.

A new addition to the airport is a massive floor-to-ceiling sculpture of Florida’s most well-known bird, the flamingo. 

It was time to hear about the Master Plan and Airport Metrics Overview of the BEST airport in the world from Danny Cooper, Senior Marketing Manager, Tampa International Airport. In 2021, TPA was ranked #1 in Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards among North American airports with 15-25 million passengers.

Special thank you to the Transportation Panel moderator: Mickey Jacobs, Vice President, Architecture – GMC Architects. The panel was chaired by Beth Alden, Transportation Planning Organization Executive Director; Danni Jorgenson, City of Tampa Transportation Engineering Manager; and Justin Hall, FDOT District 7 Planning and Environmental Management Office.

The Transportation Engineering Division provides an array of services. So much attention is being focused on the right things. Programs like congestion mitigation, neighborhood improvements, bike & pedestrian improvements and street safety are just a few amazing programs that are active. Learning about the Capital Improvements Program and what is coming was also exciting.

On a behind the scenes tour of the airport, we saw how technology was used to design the baggage handling system for efficiency. It enables 100 percent track and trace as each bag remains in the same tote throughout the baggage handling and integrated security screening process. The airport routinely processes upwards of 1,000 bags per day with a peak around the 2,500 mark – more than three times the initial projection. Newer technology and a more efficient system also means a reduction in energy usage. Several upgrades also reduced the maintenance required in the baggage claim area. In addition to updating the claim devices, TPA aimed to improve the flow of passengers retrieving baggage. Reducing the number of claim devices and establishing a new layout increased circulation space around devices by about 50%.           

We wrapped up our day at 7th and Grove - a space bringing a southern menu, warm ambiance, and amazing cocktails out of Ybor City. Founded by a trio of chefs who were frustrated at the area’s lack of southern cuisine, 7th + Grove is the go-to spot for southern classics and “neo-fusion.” 

We had a few drinks and listened to an overview of sustainability and resilience efforts from Tampa’s first Sustainability & Resilience Officer, Whit Remer. Whit is advancing Mayor Jane Castor’s commitment to 100% renewable energy and building a more resilient and equitable city. According to MIT's Treepedia study, the city of Tampa has the highest green view index – at 36% – compared to other major cities around the world. Whit is currently facilitating development of the Tampa Climate Action & Equity Plan. We also heard about the city of Tampa giving away 1,000 trees.

There are many ways to get around Tampa, but what makes it more fun is the story behind each means of transport and the wonderful people helping move the needle advancing how we all get around.