Saturday, May 26, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Downtown Tampa's train problem

You get a sense that downtown Tampa is emerging as a vibrant urban environment when people start to gripe about all the noise keeping them awake at night.

For decades the city center has been dissected by various railroad lines where trains are required by federal law to blare their horns as they cross street intersections.

It never used to be a problem since hardly anyone lived downtown. Indeed, the only real threat to a passing train was the prospect of a tumbleweed getting caught up in the machinery.

But things have changed and now thousands of people call downtown Tampa home, populating tony addresses like Skypoint and the Element while plans call for even more high-rises to dot the landscape.

That is certainly a good thing and a positive commentary on Tampa's appeal to a young, urban clientele. But there is an issue.

It seems some of these urban pioneers have gotten their Crocs in a wad over the presence of CSX train horns intruding upon their beauty sleep. Later on you'll read what Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn thinks of all this and what he intends to do about easing the slumber woes of his constituents.

But for starters here's some advice for the tossing and turning Gen X-ers or Millennials, or whatever they're called, kvetching about the CSX train horns: Shut up.

What? You didn't notice when you moved into your slice of downtown Tampa heaven that there was all manner of train tracks crisscrossing the city? What did you think they were there for? To move the Gasparilla Krewe from one bar to the next once a year?

This is a bit like buying a house on a golf course and then complaining when people hit errant balls into your yard.

If you are a New Yorker, or a Chicagoan, who has lived in Manhattan or the Loop, where the night is constantly interrupted by blaring car horns, the rattle of subway cars, really, really bad street-corner sax players, over-served revelers and, perhaps, the occasional gunshot, the idea of a few train horns would seem like a downright lullaby.

It's possible, were Skypoint or the Element located in upper Ruskin, these same people would be grousing about crowing roosters disrupting their sleep patterns.

There are always pros and cons to any residential setting. Living in downtown Tampa affords residents walkable access to trendy restaurants and bars, a growing arts scene and open park spaces all without having to cruise around looking for a parking spot. And then there are the late-night train horns.

Buckhorn, ever the savvy pol, expressed great concern over the inconveniences suffered by downtown residents and mused it might be possible to get some funding to create quiet zone buffers by including crossing gates and other traffic controls to reduce the horns.

That's very nice. And very expensive, too.

Buckhorn added that perhaps a city with a Democratic mayor might be able to persuade a Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott to set aside a piece of $10 million budgeted for quiet zones along the east coast corridor of the All Aboard Florida rail project.

Translation: Sounds swell. Not going to happen.

As for Tampa's tranquil, nocturnal atmosphere, that train left the station long ago.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18