TAMPA BAY - A replacement for the Howard Frankland Bridge. A light rail system for the connecting both sides of the bay. Both possibilities in the Bay area's future; possibilities that have people talking.
The ideas aren't far fetched according to some of Florida's top transportation brass who attended a Transportation Summit near Tampa International Airport Thursday morning.
Four decades ago, visionaries at Tampa International Airport thought it might be a good idea to use a rail system to move people from the main terminal to satellite terminals. Today, it's an idea that airports across the country borrow from. It's also an idea that is gaining traction outside of the airport.
Many government officials thinking it necessary to get a people mover, just like the one at the airport, in operation through the Bay Area. Quite possibly along the replacement for the Howard Frankland.
More than 140,000 vehicles travel the Howard Frankland daily, but the bridge so many have relied on since 1960 is outdated and in desperate need of being replaced, according to Raymond Chiaramonte with the Hillsborough County Planning Commission.
"Well it needs to be something that will last for the next 75 years and have all the transit components needed for that time period," says Chiaramonte.
Those at the meeting say they were hoping to all get a better understanding of what is feasible, what's necessary and what people want. Especially when it comes to the possibility of some sort of rail system.
"It's a very expensive possibility," says Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe. "One of the things we have to be very cognizant of is that this stuff cost lots and lots of money. We have to make sure and test that it's viable and that people will ride it."
Commissioner Sharpe says a new bridge, the possibility of rail, plus express lanes will have a price tag of around one billion dollars. A lump of that money paid for through the state. Some through federal funding and the rest will have to be supplemented. More of a reason why he says the Bay Area must focus on what's necessary at this time and discuss the luxuries as they go.
A final plan of action has to be complete for presentation by November 2014.
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