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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas tourism advocates on rail



A panel that promotes Pinellas tourism is urging Gov.-elect Rick Scott not to return $2 billion in federal grants to jump-start high speed rail in Florida.

"I think it's at a tipping point, and I don't want it to tip the wrong way,'' Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard told fellow members of the county's Tourist Development Council Wednesday.

The Orlando-to-Tampa train could be a boon to tourism on Pinellas Beaches, said Tim Boggott, an owner of the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach.

But St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster countered that the train would be a "boondoggle'' without a connection between Tampa and Pinellas. (See previous head scratching over Foster's posture here.)

County officials are talking about express bus service initially and perhaps a light rail line crossing the bay on a new Howard Franklin Bridge around 2025, because the a high speed train actually can't get up to speed fast enough from Tampa to St. Pete.

The TDC agreed to send a letter asking Scott not to derail the high speed train before the project gets started. 

-- Steve Huettel, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 2:47pm]


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