High speed rail (HSR) may be coming to the Tampa Bay region with the construction starting as early as two years. The Federal Stimulus Bill Feb '09- American Recovery & Reinvestment Act made $8 billion available to HSR with Florida's final application to be submitted no later than October 2, 2009.
The State of Florida will submit three applications under the HSR Program including: Tampa-Orlando, operational by 2013; Orlando-Miami, operational by 2017; Florida East Coast Amtrak service for Jacksonville to Miami using FEC and South Florida Rail Corridor.
The Tampa Orlando route will have stops at the Orlando International Airport, International Drive near the Orlando Convention Center, Celebration (Disney Station), one stop in Polk County/Lakeland (TBD), and downtown Tampa.
Florida is very much "shovel ready" for this project as a result of Florida's investment to preserve the rail corridor. In fact 90% of the right of way is already owned by the Florida Department of Transportation.
Why is this important to Pinellas County? High speed rail can be the catalyst to generate the development of light rail throughout the Tampa Bay Region. It can also impact tourism within the Pinellas County area allowing easy access for visitors to the Lakeland and Orlando amenities quickly and easily.
There will be a public information session Tuesday, September 15, 2009 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Florida Center Building, 4800 Highway 301 N, Tampa (use Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. fairground entrance). Parking will be provided free of charge. You can also acquire additional information at www.floridahighspeedrail.org