To the ballot…..now what?

Well folks, the people have spoken! The sales tax question will be on the November ballot. But now we must build enough support to pass it.

Future of Tampa light rail left to voters
Friday, May 14, 2010

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (Bay News 9) — After a four-hour-long public hearing, Hillsborough County commissioners decided to put the proposed one-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects up for a popular vote.

In November, voters will be asked to approve a sales tax for transit projects, including light rail.

The final public hearing on the sales tax referendum brought overwhelming turnout on Thursday night.

Over 150 people showed up at the meeting, which started at 6 p.m. at All People’s Life Center on Sligh Avenue in Tampa. Commissioners closed the floor at 10 p.m.

Many of the public who took the chance to speak said the tax should be put to a popular vote in November. Others opposed the tax entirely.

Ultimately, commissioners decided to put the sales tax on the November ballot.

Light rail in Hillsborough County

Part of the one-cent tax, if passed in November, would fund a light rail to be built in Hillsborough county. Initially, it would probably have two corridors.

“For the moment, yes, we’re looking at the red line, USF to Bruce B. Downs/Downtown, and then the portion of the blue line would take you into Westshore and just connect to the outside of the airport by one mile,” said David Armijo with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit.

That puts the airport in reach of rail.

“All your long term parking is almost walking distance from there,” said Armijo.

Shuttles would take people to the terminals with plans to add a rail line through the airport down the road.

The problem is deciding which corridor of the light rail system to build first.

“I think the ridership numbers are what’s going to drive it,” said

Ray Chiaramonte with Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

During peak hours there is a steady flow of traffic at the airport and that’s why planners say when it comes to light rail ridership, the airport has so much potential.

“I could picture a traveler coming off of TIA and either going to hotels in Westshore or downtown to a convention, to USF for medical treatment,” said Chiaramonte.

Planners say if the county can show that a lot of people would use the airport route, it could help the entire project receive federal funding.

HART is waiting on the results of a study to figure out how to move forward.

“Which is the best project that we can advance or do we link the two projects together,” said Armijo. “That’s still under consideration.”

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