Check it out Tampa Bay: Here's how federal rail money is being spent in Denver
It's been more than four years since Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal money to build a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando.
Not only is it maddening to imagine where the project would be (near completion? another six months? already open?) if Scott hadn't killed the project. But it feels like a gut punch, every few weeks or so, to read about another city reaping the rewards that easily could have been spent right here in Tampa Bay.
This week, we gaze upon Denver.
According to the Denver Post, a new commuter rail line from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport is planned to open on April 22, 2016. The 23-mile trip will take 37 minutes and cost passengers $9. It will include eight stations and six Park-n-Rides.
This Rocky Mountain travel option was made possible by a $1.03 billion federal grant, along with transit taxes and $450 million from Denver Transit Partners, the project's concessionaire. The line is electric commuter rail, which is part of the Eagle P3 project, the nation's first full public-private partnership for transit.
"In just a few short months, our entire region will begin to experience the true unbridled potential of connecting FasTracks and the Denver International Airport with the opening of the A Line," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.
Tampa Bay has only one rail project that can compare, 96-miles of CSX railroad track linking Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa. But that project is so far from getting funded, it can't be considered anything more than a longshot.
But just wait, Tampa Bay. We'll be reading about yet another city spending billions in federal money on a rail project soon enough.