Tampa — Streetcar Compromise
Rail Transit Online, April 2008
An extension of the TECO Line streetcar system into downtown Tampa, a project that appeared moribund just a few weeks ago, is now slated to move forward under a compromise agreement between its board of directors and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). Funding will come from an unused $2-million grant that was destined for construction of a streetcar museum in Ybor City, a project that has now been scrapped.
Adding other federal grants already on
hand, there is now $4.5 million available for the four-block extension, more than the estimated $3.8-million to $4.4-million price tag. Operating into downtown is expected to significantly boost the streetcar's lagging ridership, which has already led to cuts in service.
Back in February, streetcar proponents charged HART officials with hijacking $900,000 earmarked for the extension and diverting it to
bus service. HART Executive Director David Armijo said the cash was desperately needed to help fill a budget deficit and noted that the streetcar company was far short of the amount needed for construction of the new line from the Tampa Convention Center along Franklin Street to the Tampa City Center esplanade.
The new plan calls for work to begin next year. Completion is expected by mid-2010.