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Tampa - November 2001

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Rail Transit Online, November 2001

LRT Concept Endorsed


The Hillsborough County Area Regional Transit Authority (HARTline) on Oct. 8 voted to approve a long range plan to build an electric light rail system. The initial 20-mile, $950-million segment would link downtown Tampa with Ybor City, the University of South Florida and the West Shore business district. Not approved — but still part of the planning process — were segments to Port Tampa, serving Raymond James Stadium and St. Joseph's Hospital, and Tampa International Airport. “I personally believe this system will have an impact on this community for as long as this community exists,” said HARTline Chairwoman Jan Smith. The funding scenario calls for a 50-percent federal contribution and 25 percent each from the state and local sources. The latter is expected to come from a sales tax increase that must still be approved by voters, and the earliest that could occur is 2004. The full network would be completed over a 20-year period. The board also approved specific routes and station locations of the first leg, which would have an average weekday ridership of more than 28,000. 


Flag Day


A vexing and potentially expensive insurance problem that threatened to derail the 2.3-mile Tampa trolley before it carried a single paying passenger has been solved with a little elbow grease. The line, now called the TECO Line Streetcar System, will link downtown Tampa with historic Ybor City. But the tracks cross a CSX freight line at grade, and the railroad was demanding that the city or Tampa Historic Streetcar, which will operate the replica Birney cars, take out a $500-million insurance policy to make certain that CSX would be indemnified in the event of a wreck (see RTOL, July 2001). But even if such a policy was available in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, the $1 million annual premium was unaffordable. Instead, officials looked to the past for a simpler solution and decided to hire CSX conductors to act as flagmen at the crossing, located Fifth Avenue and 13th Street. Tampa Historic Streetcar will pay $196,000 a year to cover the cost.  “It seems kind of weird,” Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority spokesman Ed Crawford told the Tampa Tribune. “Isn't this kind of ancient history? But it's OK with us.”


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