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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay officials seek piece of SunRail pie



Add some Tampa Bay area officials to the list of people seeking to influence how SunRail legislation turns out.

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, vice chairman of the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority, said he'll be lobbying on the bill next week. While agency officials informally support the bill, he'll also be up there trying to get lawmakers to add millions in money for the regional agency, which is pushing the creation of a bay area rail system. St. Petersburg Council Chairman Jeff Danner also might go to Tallahassee on Monday.

"There’s still work going on to get TBARTA potentially some one-time money or ongoing money for the next four years. We’re going to ask for between $5 million and $8 million," said Hubbard, who plans to leave early Monday to make his case.

Hibbard said he thinks there's support from area lawmakers. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has a different message:

"Tell him he doesn't have to come up here. We are not going to fund TBARTA any more dollars in the SunRail bill," said Fasano, chairman of the Senate's transportation appropriation committee.

Fasano noted the bill could ultimately funnel more money to regional transit agencies, though nothing specifically is set aside for TBARTA.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:08pm]


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