Airport Will Be Ready For Mass Transit

Published: Mar 11, 2007

It is very rewarding to see so much emphasis on the need for mass transit in the Tampa Bay area. As the executive director of the Tampa International Airport and a member of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, I have seen first hand the enthusiasm that is beginning to build to improve the transportation system.

There is no doubt that the Tampa Bay area will grow to the point where a regional mass transit system will be needed and at some point in the future, the system will have to connect with the Tampa International Airport.

With this in mind, we have selected a team of consultants to help us complete the conceptual planning to define exactly how a transit system would access the airport and to make sure we provide the necessary right-of-way for the system to enter the airport from the south with a station at the current terminal complex as well as a station at the new north terminal complex which will be open and in service in October 2015.

Our vision is also focused on the system exiting the airport at the north end along Hillsborough Avenue. This will allow the system to pass "through the airport" similar to how the Metro System in the Washington, D.C., area passes through Reagan National Airport with a station at the terminal complex.

We plan to have the alignment and station location study completed by the end of 2007 at a cost of approximately $400,000.

As our community continues to grow we need to ensure that the residents can get from where they live to where they work, to the educational systems and to places for recreation like Tropicana Field, the St. Pete Times Forum, Raymond James Stadium, Bay Walk and the cultural arts district in downtown Tampa.

Once the regional transportation system is well integrated throughout the Tampa Bay area, it will be time to bring it to the airport and one thing for sure is we want to make certain we are "rail ready" when that time comes.

The next few years will be critical to making sure we don't lose the momentum that is building in the Tampa Bay area to complete the planning process for an integrated mass transit system.

Louis Miller is executive director of the Tampa International Airport.

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