As I mentioned in my last posting, I will be going over the Red Line of my fantasy light rail system for Tampa Bay. This is one of the key lines to this fantasy rail system, as it links the community of Wesley Chapel to the USF area, downtown Tampa, and MacDill Air Force Base. This fantasy corridor mostly utilizes existing CSX rail lines, while the northernmost and southernmost portions are along roadway medians. To view a route map that I’ve created via Google Maps, click here.
In reality, a corridor like this is very much possible, being that it would mostly run along existing freight rail lines. The southern terminus is near the main gate of MacDill AFB, where it would easily be able to pick up military personnel working at the base. The route would then run along the median of Dale Mabry Hwy until it reaches the CSX freight rail line that runs alongside the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. There would be a stop at Gandy Blvd before the Red Line transfers onto the freight rail line.
From there, the line would travel towards downtown Tampa, making stops at Bay to Bay Blvd (Palma Ceia Station), Hyde Park/Swann Ave, and Kennedy Blvd (to serve the University of Tampa). Once in downtown, the Red Line would connect to the Navy Line loop, which acts at the eastern terminus of the Navy Line LRT. There would be two stations in downtown Tampa: one at Ashley Dr, and one at Nebraska Ave (by Tampa’s Union Station).
Next, the Red Line would enter Ybor City, making a stop in the heart of the historic district near the TECOline Streetcar Line and 6th Ave. The line would then switch over to the freight rail line that runs northward towards Florida Ave and I-275. There would be subsequent stops at Columbus Dr, MLK Blvd, Hillsborough Ave, Sligh Ave, and Busch Blvd.
Any light rail link into the USF area is vital, which is why I’ve made the Red Line utilize the freight rail line that lies just south of Fowler Ave. The line would then shift northward once reaching Bruce B. Downs Blvd; making 2 stops by the USF Tampa Campus. The next couple of stops include Bearss Ave and Cypress Preserve Dr (Tampa Palms Station).
The final, and northernmost section of the Red Line crosses underneath I-75, running through the median of Bruce B. Downs Blvd, and enters into New Tampa and Wesley Chapel. The final stops here include Cross Creek Blvd, a provisional station at County Line Rd, State Rd 56 (next to Wiregrass), and State Rd 54. At State Rd 54, there would be a commuter rail link that would allow connection from eastern Pasco County into Pinellas County.
Although the stations that I mentioned above would serve most of the population centers surrounding the line, things could change. Originally, I had more stations put in on the map, but then realized that there were just too many to be able to run efficient service in real life. After all, that’s why we have local bus service, to provide feeder service to the rail stops. As for express service…yes, this line does operate express service by which a few stations are skipped during the height of rush hour. For instance; express service between downtown Tampa and MacDill would involve the Kennedy Blvd station being skipped. Express service between downtown and Wesley Chapel would involve the Columbus Dr, Hillsborough Ave, Sligh Ave, and Bearss Ave stations being skipped. The skipped stations would have a provision of a third track to allow express trains to easily bypass these stations.
In my next post, I will go over Line 3 of the Norfolk, VA fantasy subway. Please feel free to comment if you have anything to share!