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Tampa - July 2001
   

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Tampa Insurance Clash

Rail Transit Online, July 2001

A demand for an outrageously expensive insurance premium has stalled construction of the 2.3-mile trolley linking the Tampa Convention Center and historic Ybor City.  The streetcar tracks must cross a CSX freight line at grade on 13th Street in Ybor City but the railroad won’t approve an operating agreement unless the nonprofit Tampa Historic Streetcar, which will run the trolleys, insures the junction for $500 million.  “This is really a problem,” Michael English, president of the group told the Tampa Tribune.  “The premiums for that could be anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million a year.  That doesn't even include our own liability coverage.  It's a threat to our system.”  The entire project is costing $31.5 million, and its annual operating budget is only $1.8 million.  But CSX spokeswoman Kathy Burns told the Tribune that the high premium is required because of the potential for expensive lawsuits if there was a collision.  She said $500 million is the industry standard and is being required for all new passenger systems, including commuter lines in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.  “We're living in a very litigious society,” said Burns.  A gate will be installed at the crossing and CSX is designing an interlocking that should prevent any crashes.  An official of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority said he’s known about the insurance requirement for years but Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and other leaders said they’ve just learned about it.  Greco has appointed a consultant to negotiate with the railroad in hopes of reaching a compromise that would bring the premium down to a reasonable level. 

 

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