Tampa City Council continues to push for high speed rail at airport
Earlier this week, officials at a briefing on high speed rail made it clear they have no intention of seeking a station at Tampa International Airport. But the Tampa City Council continues their push to get one there. They voted last night to have city attorneys draft a resolution calling for state officials to ask for money to plan a station at the airport as part of a grant application next month. Council chairman Tom Scott also suggested the council invite Ed Turanchik, a potential mayoral candidate who now does community outreach for the high speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando, to come to the council meeting next week to talk about the issue. But Mary Mulhern, who has been leading the charge for an airport stop, noted that Turanchik opposes a station at the airport, and the council also needs to hear from someone who supports the concept. "I'll find someone," she said. "I think we need to hear both sides."
Airport officials and others -- such as Mayor Pam Iorio -- have said that it's not logistically possible to take high speed rail to the airport. They want to connect to TIA via light rail or bus from the high speed rail stop downtown. But Mulhern has dismissed those arguments and said it's merely a lack of political will keeping the extension from happening. She has also pointed out that Orlando has three stops to Tampa's one, including one at Orlando International Airport. And planning calls for Miami to eventually have high speed rail at its airport. The Tampa to Orlando link is being paid for in part with $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money, but that only covers about half the cost. State transportation officials will apply for grant money next month to make up the difference. Mulhern believes the lack of high speed rail at TIA means Tampa's airport will lose business to Orlando. She envisions a multi-modal center in Tampa that offers air travel along with high speed and light rail.
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer