State official calls for unity on high speed rail
On Thursday the Tampa City Council is set to discuss adding a high speed rail stop at Tampa International Airport to current plans for the bullet train connecting downtown Tampa to Orlando. City Council member Mary Mulhern has been leading the charge for the added stop and wants state officials to include it in an application next month for federal money to pay for the line. State officials, though, have said that's not an option.
In a letter to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who opposes including the airport in the grant application, the head of the Florida Rail Enterprise lays out the arguments against high speed rail to the airport. See the letter here: Rail letter. Check out the last bullet point. It calls for unity and support from the community and government officials to improve Florida's chances of getting the grant money, which is necessary to complete the project.
President Barack Obama awarded Florida about $1.25 billion in federal stimulus money to pay for the line, which has a stop in downtown Tampa and three stops in Orlando, including one at that city's airport. But that covers only about half the cost of the project. State officials are hoping to get more money from the feds to make up the difference.
Another point to note in the letter: It talks about HART considering connecting the airport to the downtown high speed rail stop via either light rail or bus rapid transit. Look for that to be a big topic of conversation in the next month.
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer