Hillsborough panel backs high-speed rail from Tampa
May 19, 2009
Hillsborough County's Transportation Task Force is backing a high-speed rail plan linking Tampa and Orlando.
The task force approved a motion Monday to formally endorse the project, one of several across the nation that emerged after the federal government proposed that $8 billion in stimulus funds go toward high-speed rail.
The Federal Railroad Administration is holding workshops across the country to gauge support for high-speed rail projects.
The motion by task force members comes as the railroad administration is set to meet Thursday in Orlando to consider Florida's plan to connect Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville.
The first leg of that plan, Tampa to Orlando, would cost about $2 billion.
Ray Chiaramonte, executive director of the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the Tampa-Orlando leg is farther along than others across the nation and could begin in 18 to 24 months if funding is in place. About a dozen other states are floating their own proposals.
"We have an advantage for a short period of time over the other proposals with the work that has already been accomplished," he said.
In addition, Chiaramonte said the system could complement a future light-rail program in the Tampa area.
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