Hillsborough Rides – March 2015 : MPO supports City of Tampa’s quest for New Starts funding for Streetcar

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At its March 2nd Board meeting, the MPO agreed to make its top priority for federal and state grants that support fixed guideway transit — known as New Starts — a project to upgrade and extend the streetcar.

Tampa’s Historic Streetcar (THS) has been the subject of many discussions about how to get the most use out the short downtown-area route.  Today it connects Ybor City with the Aquarium, Amalie Arena, and Convention Center.  HART recently studied the feasibility of extending the streetcar through the downtown office core to the transit center on the north side. Besides improving access to downtown jobs, the extension would connect the line to HART’s express and local bus routes, FDOT’s Tampa Bay Express lanes (TBX) project, and a corridor set aside for future intercity rail to Orlando.

HART operates the streetcar in partnership with the City of Tampa, which owns the rail.  The City is currently working with a consultant to provide more context, refine costs, and identify possible challenges for the potential expansion.

In a letter to FDOT District Seven Secretary Paul Steinman, P.E., Commissioner Les Miller, MPO Chair, stated, “We strongly support any future request from the City of Tampa for funding and partnership under the Florida New Starts program… Tampa is actively working with local partners – together known as the Policy Leadership Group – on a coordinated communitywide effort to address Hillsborough’s transportation challenges. (See the GO Hillsborough article below.) As the broader effort continues to move forward, the time to advance this grant opportunity for the central city is now, when Tampa’s urban core is seeing an unprecedented amount of private sector development.”

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