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Q&A: Why TIA isn't on proposed high speed rail route

TIA not on high speed rail route

Is there a source to assess the chronology of events establishing the endpoints of the High Speed Rail? What authority established it, who participated in the decision and is it truly set in concrete? How did Tampa International Airport get left out of the initial route? TIA is one of the leading airports of its size in the world and has truly wonderful road access from the counties to the north, south and west, and yet the initial route is from Orlando's airport to a downtown Tampa location where there is no existing transportation infrastructure.

In 1976, the Florida Legislature authorized a study of a high speed rail service between St. Petersburg and Daytona Beach, and in 1982 then-Gov. Bob Graham created the Florida High Speed Rail Committee.

This being a political issue, it's hard to say anything is "set in concrete." But it's fair to say most of the major decisions have been made and aren't likely to change.

Among them is the decision not to locate a stop at Tampa International Airport, instead ending the rail at a 20-acre site in downtown Tampa bordered by these streets: Scott on the north, Morgan on the east, Fortune on the south and Ashley on the west. The key is the lack of an "available potential corridor to connect to the Tampa airport," according to the High Speed Rail website.

In the frequently asked questions portion of organization's website (www.floridahighspeedrail.org/faqs), there is this further explanation:

"The Tampa-Orlando Corridor runs between downtown Tampa and Orlando International Airport within rights of way and corridors that were approved for high speed rail as part of environmental studies and preliminary engineering done between 2001 and 2003. A final environmental impact statement was approved in 2005. In addition, I-4 was reconstructed during the 1990s with a high speed rail corridor in the median.

"In contrast, there have never been any studies or proposals to take HSR to Tampa International Airport. As a consequence, there are no environmental approvals or available right of way for HSR today between downtown Tampa and TIA.

"In addition, the very nature of high speed trains requires considerably larger turning radii and significantly larger station areas than other alternative modes such as light rail or bus rapid transit. Further, it is the consensus of a variety of transportation agencies, including the Tampa Aviation Authority, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the City of Tampa, that light rail or bus rapid transit options would provide better means for connection to TIA."

For more facts, visit www.floridahighspeedrail.org/fast-facts.

A timeline can be found at www.floridahigh speedrail.org/history/2010/8/13/timeline.html.

Q&A: Why TIA isn't on proposed high speed rail route 12/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 7:00am]
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