Frankland Bridge may get light rail line
October 25, 2009
Local officials are asking the state to come up with a plan more quickly for how the Howard Frankland Bridge could accommodate a light-rail line.
The Florida Department of Transportation expects to have such a plan by 2013 or so. Pinellas County officials, though, would like the plan as early as next year.
The DOT plan, which will cost about $2 million, could include modifying the bridge and highway structures or adding another span to connect Hillsborough and Pinellas counties by rail.
No timetable or cost estimate for an enhancement project has been determined.
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio on Friday called for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority to take the lead in urging the state to move forward on the Tampa Bay Rail Crossing project.
She said the magnitude of the project makes it a regional issue.
"This would be a critical piece in improving transportation," Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel said.
Iorio and Seel serve on the TBARTA board. TBARTA is charged with implementing a regional transportation master plan for a seven-county area that also includes Citrus, Hernando, Manatee, Pasco and Sarasota counties.
Board members on Friday said the group needs to better define how TBARTA will work with individual counties and their transportation operations to ensure future transit plans work with each other.
Hillsborough County is nearing the potential launch of massive transit improvements including light rail.
Ultimately, TBARTA could operate and coordinate elements of a regional transportation network serving routes through multiple counties.
What effect that would have on local transit operators such as the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority remains to be determined.
The Hillsborough transit improvements would depend on voter approval of a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase. The county commission is expected to decide in December whether to schedule a referendum in November 2010.
The sales tax surcharge would begin in January 2011, pending voter approval, and would generate $7.33 billion in revenue through 2040 for transit, along with additional money for nontransit initiatives such as highway improvements.
If voters approve the local sales tax, the county could qualify for $2.33 billion more in federal funding for transit, HART chief executive David Armijo said.
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