Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: Plan pushes airport, rail into new era

The blueprint would extend the life of the 41-year-old main terminal, removing the rental car operations to free valuable space and expanding the facility to handle more international passengers.
Published Apr. 4, 2013

The master plan that Tampa International Airport adopted Thursday lays the groundwork for adding flights and boosting the airport's role as a regional economic engine. It strikes the right balance between investing in the future and being realistic about the airport's needs and opportunities over the next 20 years. But the master plan's greatest impact might occur off the airport's property, as it moves the region forward on building a modern rail system.

The blueprint the governing board agreed to Thursday would extend the life of the 41-year-old main terminal, removing the rental car operations to free valuable space and expanding the existing facility to handle more international passengers. New automated people movers would carry traffic between the airsides and to a consolidated rental car facility on the southern end of the property. By making more efficient use of its comparatively small footprint, TIA could put more land into flying-related commercial uses. Restaurants and retail space and even a new hotel would generate additional money for the publicly owned facility and stabilize its finances by broadening the revenue base.

The most promising aspect of the plan is its potential as a catalyst for regional rail. The document envisions linking the airport with whatever mass transit system local governments in the region eventually develop. TIA would connect its people mover to a future mass transit hub in the nearby West Shore business district. That opens the door for passengers to travel between the airport, downtown Tampa and Pinellas County without getting into a car. And it would inspire the region to look beyond bus service and toward a rail network that connects the major destinations on both sides of the bay.

The airport's plan could also transform West Shore, which has the largest concentration of commercial office space in Florida. A transit hub serving the airport would make it cheaper and easier for business travelers to get to the West Shore business district. And it would attract bus circulator and other mass transit to serve the area's two malls, dozens of hotels and thousands of businesses. West Shore could be more pedestrian-friendly and reintroduce itself as a place to work, live and play.

The airport's first concern must be serving air travelers and maintaining TIA's reputation for quality. The transit portion of its master plan advances those goals by improving how people get in and out of the airport. But the master plan also advances the ball by underscoring among local leaders the importance of including mass transit in plans for the future. And positioning the airport to better serve the entire region is a reminder to area governments that the local market is the entirety of Tampa Bay. The master plan will evolve over decades, and it may need some massaging from time to time. But it is the right vision and its benefits stand to reach far beyond the airport campus.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Howard Frankland Bridge, which connects St. Petersburg and Tampa, is a leading symbol of regional unity.
    Organizations that rebrand themselves should have a regional mission that reflects the name.
  2. The White House says it has chosen President Donald Trump's golf resort in Miami as the site for next year's Group of Seven summit.  (AP Photo/Alex Sanz, File) ALEX SANZ  |  AP
    Monday’s letters to the editor
  3. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o has written a children's book called Sulwe, about a girl who "was born the color of midnight."[Photo (2014) by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP] File photo
    Most white people have never heard of skin lightening cream or the “paper bag test,” where your fiance can be no darker than a paper sack. | Leonard Pitts Jr.
  4. Ayana Lage, 26, and Vagner Lage, 27, pose with a sonogram of their unborn child. Ayana writes openly about going through a miscarriage due to the baby having a rare genetic defect. She wonders why more women don't discuss their miscarriages. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    Sunday’s letters to the editor
  5. Kreshae Humphrey, 26, applies ointments to the skin of her 3-year-old daughter, Nevaeh Soto De Jesus, after bathing her in bottled water. The parents bathe all three of their girls with bottled water because they believe the children were sickened by the tap water at the Southern Comfort mobile home park off U.S. 19 in Clearwater. The family is suing the park's owner over the issue, but the owner and the state say there are no problems with the drinking water there. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The story of a Clearwater mobile home park and its water issues reflects a systemic breakdown.
  6. A long stretch of US 98 remains closed for repairs in Mexico Beach on Friday, September 27, 2019, almost one year after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the small coastal town. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Time is running out, so let’s get practical, says Craig Fugate
  7. FROM PRINT: Adam Goodman, national Republican media consultant
    Sure, fix capitalism’s flaws, but a wealth tax is not the way. | Adam Goodman
  8. 
 CLAY BENNETT  |  Chattanooga Times Free Press
  9. A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from over Tampa Bay.
    The news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation wants to change its name to include “Tampa Bay” has been met with resistance.
  10. Catherine Rampell, Washington Post columnist.
    Allegations of political cowardice can seem rich coming from candidates unwilling to acknowledge the obvious truths about things such as higher taxes. | Catherine Rampell
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement