Better transit to Westshore, Tampa International Airport and beyond

Westshore TIA ConceptThe Westshore business district and Tampa International Airport (TIA) could be a focus for rapid transit connections, if planned projects come to pass. These plans include FDOT’s study for a rapid transit connection from Pinellas as part of a new span for the Howard Frankland Bridge, TBARTA’s study of BRT or express buses in the Veterans/North Suncoast corridor, and FDOT’s project to build managed lanes for buses, carpools and other vehicles in the median of I-275. The MPO’s 2035 Plan also envisions rapid transit between downtown Tampa and Westshore. And the Aviation Authority’s recent Master Plan update proposed connecting the Airport to a multimodal/ intermodal center in the Westshore district, where passengers could transfer from rapid transit to an Automated People Mover, checking their bags in the process.

At their meeting last month, the MPO Board went on record in letters to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority concerning the need to finalize selection of a Westshore Multimodal Center site, and to reserve a transit corridor around Tampa International Airport.

In a 2012 location analysis, the MPO recommended four alternative sites for the multimodal center to be built by FDOT in the vicinity of Cypress and Trask Streets or the Westshore Mall. The letter approved by the MPO Board requests that the FDOT select a final preferred site for the Westshore Multimodal Center and seek funding to advance the project.

The MPO Board also agreed to send a letter to the Aviation Authority requesting the preservation of a corridor around the airport along West Spruce St, Boy Scout Blvd, Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa Bay Blvd, and Cargo Rd, which would enable premium transit to run north to Linebaugh Ave in the future. The previous airport master plan envisioned a northern terminal and a rail transit line running through the terminals and continuing north towards Linebaugh Ave.

For more information, see the MPO agenda for March 12.