Deadline set for light-rail route
December 8, 2009
Transportation planners have set a deadline in June to recommend specific routes, technology and money sources for Tampa's first light-rail lines.
The deadline revealed Monday at a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority monthly meeting involves HART's analysis of transportation alternatives that could be used, which is required to qualify for potential Federal Transit Administration money.
Competing for the money requires a local source of revenue that the majority of the county commission hopes will come from county voter approval in November of a 1 cent sales tax surcharge.
Detailed information would be available on the referendum on where and what kind of new transportation that revenue would support. Of the 1 cent, 75 percent would go to light rail and buses, leaving the remainder for highway and other mobility improvements.
Potential routes for a light-rail system have been reduced from a map resembling "spaghetti" to about a half dozen alignments.
Public comments from outreach sessions on preferred Northeast corridor alignments gathered for a HART report showed 25 people favored Bruce B. Downs-30th Street. Remaining preferences were: Nebraska Avenue, 20; 22nd Street, 13; Florida Avenue, 12; the CSX freight rail line, 9, Interstate 275, 9; 40th and 50th streets, 7 and Central Avenue 4.
Preferences for the West Shore alignment were: Kennedy Boulevard, 38; Cypress Street 13; Interstate 275, 13; Main Street, 7; Cass Street, 4; Platt Street-Cleveland Street, 4; and Swann Avenue 3.
The Kennedy alignment would present the greatest challenge for adding a transportation line, but would provide a greater benefit in serving employment centers, HART chief executive David Armijo said.
The public response on preferred technology showed 54 in favor of light rail, 29 for bus rapid transit that can use special corridors and automatic signal changing devices for a combination of light rail and bus rapid transit, and one for monorail.
Light rail has dominated discussions as the preferred option to serve transportation corridors between the University of South Florida area and downtown and downtown and West Shore.
However, the federal government requires all types of transportation modes be considered in addition to an analysis of the outcome from providing no improvements. HART planners are covering those points in refining its alternatives analysis.
In another matter, the HART board in a 4-4 vote rejected a motion to provide Armijo, who received a stellar performance review, a 3 percent merit raise, citing the poor economy and possible adverse public response to providing a raise for Armijo when the county is seeking a tax increase for transit.
Armijo, who makes $174,700 a year, had voluntarily turned down receiving an annual performance bonus because of the impact of the economy on the community.
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