This morning Mary Shavalier, the chief of Planning & Program Development with HART, briefly discussed the transit agency's new focus on now possibly putting a light rail station at Tampa International Airport.
Original plans have always had light rail going "through" the airport, but not to the airport, but that sentiment appears to be changing at lightning speed with the local agency in Hillsborough County that is working on the entire proposal.
One factor that has led to this change of attitude is the fact that Tampa is now getting a high speed rail line, to Orlando. But while one of the three lines in Orlando will originate at their airport, there are not any plans to have rail connect to Tampa International. The need for connectivity is what's driving this renewed surge( as an article in Sunday's Tampa Tribune by Ted Jackovicks reported).
(Criticism of the area not having the high speed rail station at Tampa International was also expressed at a workshop held by the Tampa City Council last week).
Current plans have a station to be built at O'Brien and West Spruce Streets, about a mile from the airport.
HART board member Steven Polzin said he had concerns about adding a possible change to current plans, saying he was worried about how it would affect the process. He said he was also "nervous" about making the project bigger, and asked if HART was now going to allow other constituencies to come in at the relatively late hour with other requests that deviate from the current plan.
But Shavalier said that the demand for a connection with the airport had been enhanced because of Tampa's new high speed rail line, and said that that there's not a whole lot of new work that needs to be done. That's because the airport conducted a study in 2007 about having a station at the airport. Shavalier said that those preliminary plans showed the costs of building a station at TIA was $77 million, and an elevated plan would cost $125 million.