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Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States

Light Rail Transit: Pinellas leads the way!

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Well, not quite...or not yet. Hillsborough County's light rail plan seemed to offer the greatest hope that something big might be happening here in Tampa Bay. That, along with new new high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando, and the Tampa Bay area was about to hit the big leagues. We know that transit is very important to urban design and economic development. Fixed transit, particularly rail transit, like any infrastructure investment, can dramatically change development patterns, and can greatly improve access to jobs (something employers look for when planning expansions and relocations). New transit has redefined many cities in recent decades - many in the Sunbelt, such as Charlotte, NC, and Phoenix, AZ. So when light rail in Hillsborough and high speed rail were both delayed indefinitely, all steam seemed to be taken out of the push for transit improvements here in Tampa Bay.

However, quietly, Pinellas County has been moving forward with its transit plans by doing an alternative, taking the first and crucial step toward developing its portion of what would eventually become a regional transit system. From what I've seen, it looks pretty promising. The routing of the first leg of what I predict will be light rail will go from Downtown St. Petersburg to Downtown Clearwater through Gateway. It hits the the major employment centers, provides direct access to the St. Pete-Clearwater airport and would eventually connect across the bay to Downtown Tampa through Westshore.

It has always been my thought that Pinellas and Hillsborough should come together on transit, and build a rail line from Downtown St. Pete to Downtown Tampa first, and expand from there. This would connect the two major urban centers, biggest employment centers, and really help both cities build true urban environments by way of transit oriented development. TBARTA may be vehicle for this. There seems to be an attitude of cooperation and collaboration building. However, I know with the bureaucracies in place, its difficult for the counties to work together. Until then, I am glad Pinellas continues to move forward, and hopefully will lead the way! We will revisit this other posts. Until then, I will say that I look forward to voting yes for this initiative next November.

If you are interested in this, check it out at

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