Pinellas transit officials react to a Hillsborough Commissioner's suggestion to start transit talks listen02/27/13 Janelle Irwin
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As officials in Pinellas County gear up to expand transit options, Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe has said he wants to start talking about funding some enhancements on his side of the Bay. The Tampa Bay Times reports Sharpe said he wants to start building support for a 2014 referendum. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority CEO Brad Miller says that’s a good thing.
“PSTA has worked very hard to try to develop our Alternative Analysis in a regional way and one of the challenges in developing our plans has been – it’s a high priority for us to have transit on the, over to Tampa and to the airport and there has been a question of whether or not the support was there over in Hillsborough.”
Sharpe supported the failed 2010 transit referendum in Hillsborough County. During those discussions, Sharpe had pushed for rail options, but critics argued the county was too sprawling to support it. But Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch said any effort at all by Hillsborough officials is promising.
“Eventually we need a system that has regional connectivity so you can catch a bus or rail in St. Pete and go over to Westshore, USF or Clearwater. It all has to connect. The RNC showed us that our lack of connectivity puts us in a terribly bad competitive position with other areas of the nation.”
Pinellas County’s transit plan could include a light rail connection between the two counties via the Howard Franklin Bridge. Based on that plan, construction would likely start in 2025 when the bridge is scheduled to be rebuilt.