Street Car gets Whiting extension line
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10/09/09 Joshua Lee Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

Today the Teco Line Street Car System’s Whiting Street Extension had it’s groundbreaking ceremony at the downtown YMCA. The extension will use federal stimulus money and is one measure to bring more public transportation to the Tampa Bay Area.

The 4th grade class from the Rampello Downtown Partnership School Band played at the ceremony. City council members John Dingfelder and Linda Saul-Sena attended, along with all the TECO board members and HART’s engineering staff. TECO’s David Armijo addressed the forum.

Armijo says, "These young people are our future teaching them about about transit service certainly and into the future.This project will extend the service that has now been 7 years in operation the Tampa historic TECO line an additional 1/3 of a mile. We relay this as a very critical project. This is what we call phase two of the streetcar plan,; it consists of a single track from the end of the line at what is now called the Dick Greco Plaza, immediately adjacent to the Tampa Convention Center down the street. Also a passing track just south of us on Borein Sreet. There will be a brand new station stop right out here as I mentioned before that we are standing on the corner so obviously this area will be changed in the next year.

Former Mayor Dick Greco had some encouraging words for this new endeavor in Tampa’s transit.

Greco explains, " When you get on the trolley and you listen to people from out of town and realize how much they are enjoying it, it is a wonderful thing. When it is packed on weekends with tourists and so forth I hope to see more people from here ride it. And when I think what Mayor Iorio was thinking when she extended this was to have these parking lots here that are not full and, that is not the case at the other end of the line because you have all of the hotels and the conventions going on. People can park there a lot cheaper over the weekend and that type of thing and costs as much to park as to ride the trolley the way it is right now, so you get more local people."

Pam Iorio said the streetcar will be important for Tampa.

Iorio states, " And so it is important that we promote all these modes of transportation, that we promote our streetcar, that we promote light rail, that we promote an enhanced bus system, that we promote the trolley, that we promote the flex in the circulaters, and one day we'll have it all. And then we will be offering people with options in transportation and then we will be truly a complete community. So that is why to our young friends at Rampello this is a very important day, because what you are seeing is a little more progress for your future and that is what we all are working towards.

David Mechanik is on HART’s board of directors, and described how the new extensions will benefit the downtown area.

Mechanik says, " This day when we are extending the streetcar into the core of downtown is something we have said we needed to do from the beginning. It was only due to funding constraints that we did not actually build the line initially that far. But we have known all along that the streetcar had to reach the core of downtown, and of course once you do that we then allow for the office workers downtown to access all the other points along the line including the convention center, the hotels, Channelside , and of course Ybor. Likewise the folks at in Ybor and Channelside can now use the streetcar to reach the core of downtown."

On Saturday, various events will take place downtown to further promote use of the streetcar line. Streetcar fest is from 9 am to 5 pm along the corridor alignment between Ybor and Downtown. Streetcar rides will be a nickel.

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