Lopano to HART: Tampa airport should be a transit hub
TAMPA - Tampa International Airport should create a plan for a centrally located transportation center to serve as a bus transfer site and eventually a bus rapid transit, rail transportation and taxi hub, chief executive Joe Lopano said today. Lopano told HART's board that an airport transportation center with a tram link to the main terminal would not be duplicative of long-range plans for a transportation hub in the West Shore Business District. "The airport is the center of gravity," Lopano said, drawing laughs from Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority members. "I think the centers could be complementary." The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization has identified four potential sites for the West Shore center area that could serve Bus Rapid Transit, local and express buses, taxis, limos, bicycles, pedestrians, and in the long-term, light- and commuter rail.(Bus Rapid Transit uses conventional buses that could travel on designated bus lanes and are equipped with technology to expedite travel through traffic signals.) The four MPO locations are north of the WestShore Plaza north parking area; the Interstate 275 median and land to the north along Cypress Street; parking areas of Thomas Jefferson High School at Cypress and Trask Streets, and a site west of the Jefferson site on parking areas along Trask Street. The MPO's plan would be expected to dovetail with the airport's master plan update that seeks an alternative to a bus transfer center originally planned on aviation authority property at Spruce and O'Brien streets. HART's board and Lopano agreed that a 3.7 acre site, agreed upon under different aviation authority and HART boards in 2009, made little sense given its distance from the heart of the airport. The HART board voted today to split with the aviation authority the $82,000 in HART planning money from county ad valorem property taxes spent on the aborted Spruce/O'Brien site. The aviation authority also will reimburse $3,070 HART has paid for a least at the site.
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