Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tampa Not So Fast in Space Race

David Pinero over at Tampa Rail mentions the second coming of a Tampa rail plan. It's ambitious and according to the St. Petersburg Times, a vote on a half cent sales tax might come in 2010. 2010 however is three years away, which could be long or short depending on the outcome. Personally I don't think its fast enough. They need to plan it up and strike fast and hard. Unfortunately during that time period, they are still going to be building more roads and congestion is going to get much worse. They might have rail by 2020 at this rate.

- A primary rail line with four main stations: downtown St. Petersburg, the Gateway-Toytown area, West Shore district and downtown Tampa. It would cross the bay on a new structure between the Howard Frankland's two spans. The current bridge was designed with that in mind, although it would be expensive.

- Radiating out from that primary "spine," you'd have "ribs" - railways and express buses to the beaches, Clearwater and the University of South Florida, eventually reaching as far as Brooksville, Lakeland and Sarasota.

- Ferries traveling between downtown St. Petersburg, Tampa, Bradenton and possibly Apollo Beach.

Train, boat and bus fares would cover only a fraction of the costs. Local transit officials think the most realistic way to start paying for these things is to follow the lead of numerous other cities, including Miami and Jacksonville: Ask voters for a half-cent sales tax.

By that time, the initial space race will be over. Denver, Salt Lake City, and Dallas will each have over 100 miles of rail lines and Tampa will have a small starter line. As my old track coach Bubba used to say, Pick It Up!

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