HART gets light rail cost estimates
March 18, 2010
Costs for a light rail corridor generally run $3.7 million a mile but can escalate to $32 million or more a mile for elevated sections, consultants for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority said Monday.
The high price for segments that must be elevated will have a major effect on decisions to select light rail corridors between North Tampa and downtown, and downtown and West Shore from four to two each.
Most light rail lines nationwide run on a combination of dedicated track and down the middle of major thoroughfares, but some segments need to be elevated to avoid major obstacles, such as freeways.
"By April, we will narrow down the corridors and narrow the technologies we could use," said Leo Auger, of PB Transit & Rail Systems Inc.'s Tampa office.
The public will be invited to comment in May, before the board makes its final selection of routes in June. Those will be submitted for approval by the Federal Transit Administration, which determines which project requests nationwide are funded in competitive appraisals.
In addition to cost effectiveness, the FTA will consider environmental, land use and livability factors to evaluate competitive bids for funding.
Availability of local funding also is an FTA determinant, which makes November's proposed referendum on a 1 percent Hillsborough County sales tax increase to help fund a combination of transit and nontransit mobility initiatives crucial for local travel improvements.
Preliminary discussions of possible light rail routes through Tampa show each will have challenges. Those include negotiations with CSX Transportation, if routes proposing sharing CSX tracks are selected, and multiple segments requiring elevated track.
If a downtown-North Tampa route used some east and west portions along Busch Boulevard of Fowler Avenue, rights of way might have to be purchased or travel lanes eliminated on the roadways.
The same would hold true for the downtown-West Shore proposals if they used portions of Kennedy and West Shore Boulevards and Cypress Street.
Although light rail is generally assumed to be the technology of choice for certain routes through Tampa, other modes such as bus rapid transit must be considered as options to comply with federal guidelines.
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