HART to weigh carpool lanes, light-rail starter line listen01/24/11 Kate Bradshaw
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As rush hour picks up throughout Tampa Bay, you may be wondering if there will ever be a fix for all the gridlock. Transportation officials met in Tampa today to talk about possible short term solutions to Tampaâ€™s transit woes.
Being stuck in traffic is a fact of life almost everywhere, especially in the Tampa Bay area. Hillsborough County voters said no to a large-scale transit overhaul, but Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (or HART) officials are still looking at ways to ease traffic on area roads â€“ and how to pay for them. Mary Shevalier, chief of planning and program development at HART, said potential projects include high occupancy vehicle â€“ or carpool â€“ lanes.
Shevalier said the agency is studying Hillsboroughâ€™s most clogged corridors.
She added that thereâ€™s potential for a light rail starter line, if the HART board were to approve the project.
She said the agency will tackle transit methods as well as the big question â€“ money â€“ at a retreat in early February.
HART CEO David Armijo said thereâ€™s already money available for projects like MetroRapid, an enhanced bus system that would operate between USF and Downtown Tampa by way of Fletcher and Nebraska.
He said the millions coming from the federal level are a little slow coming in.
Armijo added that federal dollars the agency has taken for granted if Congress cuts the spending that was so widely decried on the campaign trail last year.
Armijo said that while the poor economy has caused many people to oppose government spending, the dollars spent on local transit projects have actually created jobs. He said that could make the case for keeping federal grant money around.
The HART board will get down to specifics at a retreat that takes place February 7 at the Expressway Authority at 1104 East Twiggs Street in Downtown Tampa.