Rail Plan to Start in Tampa


The fortunes of the Tampa Bay area's first light rail system will likely rise or fall with the good intentions of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. She has dusted off Hillsborough County's dormant rail plan, and with the help of the new regional transportation authority, Iorio plans to be the biggest booster for the project.

The first spur would likely connect New Tampa with USF with downtown, then roll toward Westshore and the airport. But at an estimated $70 million dollars a mile, paying for all this won't be easy. So Iorio has become the primary force behind a penny sales tax she wants included on the county's ballots in 2010.

Iorio outlined her plan to fellow board members of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority. Hillsborough would be the testing ground for a light rail web that one day is projected to tie together Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and suburban Pasco County. Longer-range commuter rail lines would chug north to Brooksville and south to Sarasota. And dedicated bus lines would connect those lines to more distant locales.

But other members of the seven-county authority are wary about starting only in Hillsborough.

For more information on TBARTA's long-range rail plan, click on their web site here.

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