Regional leaders meet to plan high speed rail
More than 60 business leaders, the state's top rail officials and the mayors of Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando met today for the first time to coordinate planning of a high speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando. Participants bandied about the concept of a "super region" working together on transportation and economic development issues. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio emphasized the importance of shared talking points to keep the public informed about the bullet train and build community support for it. One of her concerns is that people don't understand the difference between high speed rail, which is being paid for with federal money, central Florida's SunRail, and the local light rail line in Hillsborough County that will be paid for with a new county sales tax.
After the meeting, Iorio said she's confident that Hillsborough voters will support the new tax in a November referendum. “I know so many people say it can’t be done, that we’re in such bad economic times. But I think voters know that when we're in bad economic times you better invest in the future. Because if we don't make an investment in better transit for our community, we will be so far behind the rest of the country. In fact we will stand out in the nation as the only major metroplitan area without a modern transit system. We don’t want that designation.”
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer