St. Pete Times Columnist Howard Troxler weighs in on the proposed cross-county beltway
that's been proposed and which appears to eclipse any regard for light or commuter rail.
The beltway plan could not have been introduced on a worse day. In the very same 24 hour timespan Jeb Bush was in Orlando uncharacteristically beefing up a mass transit solution for the central Florida region in the form of commuter rail. To folks like me who have long chronicled his efforts against Florida High Speed rail he might as well have strolled into Disney on Gay Day
and announced he was a member of the rainbow coalition after all. The clashing announcements made us look like dolts down here completely unable to do anything about transportation except build a faster road to a place where they can
. Predictably the media has been going nuts (and TR likes to think, validly or not, it had a role
) painting the contrast between directions.
It's easy to be against the beltway if it sells out mass transit, but it's thorny because you can't necessarily be against all the people who support it. The beltway has the support of the Tampa Bay Partnership, who, aside from this project, also support serious work on a regional transportation authority and intermodal transportation choice featuring rail
. And they're the only people who are doing, saying, and even acting, like they fully intend to make rail a reality in our lifetimes. It's thin support according to the July 28 St. Pete piece detailing the plan
. It is contingent only on a promise that the beltway contain some sort of a mass transit component.