The Whiting Street extension, now apparently fighting a tempting current from within to use funds allocated to it, is critical to the long-range success of the Teco Line Streetcar system. In dropping by this afternoon I happened upon "Ray's Car" (note inscription on face of streetcar, upper right) sitting at the southern terminus seemingly yearning to move on. Ray's car wanted to go farther - and it must.
Ray's car should go further down to Whiting Street, as planned.
Which reminds me, I discovered this afternoon that in the website move I had apparently disabled bits and pieces of the TR Whiting Street presentation that showed off, first hand, where the extension would actually take Tampa residents to and from. In no time I restored it, however, so feel free to be reminded: We gotta do this thing folks, and it's not right to be throwing around the earmarked funds all previous HART directors designated for the Whiting Street extension.
The debate leading up to what might happen to a huge swath of money devoted to the line's extension is covered extensively in the last Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc's board packet. HART, believing that the money cannot be spent in time to go toward the extension, wants to move the funds to help pay for components of the new BRT system down Nebraska Avenue.
A sentiment is expressed time and time again (see comments by Mark Sharpe) that this is a cross of the streetcar system that will be mitigated later. But that's not true - and this is what I believe the HART board members fail to understand. It isn't about supporting or not supporting the streetcar system. It's about destroying a critical project within that system that is tantamount to recklessly ruining or severely limiting the system's future.
It is incredibly difficult to fight tooth and nail for any streetcar
monies; HART's past, present, and future promise of support
notwithstanding. If nearly a million dollars is pulled from the
project, the Whiting Street extension might not get done. If it doesn't
get done it may be all that is needed to weaken the streetcar system
out of existence, period.
The BRT system, by contrast, is in no danger. BRT's Tampa future won't be diminished if it doesn't get the $900,000. After all, nobody opened up a BRT program in these parts that pivoted on the existence of money loudly and clearly earmarked for something else entirely. If someone did, they should be hauled out and fired on the mere principle of being underhanded.
The community is not going to be happy if Tampa takes a step back on its trek toward urban rail. Granted, if there's a problem preparing a report or whatever to secure the funds for the Whiting Street extension, fine. But HART and a darned lot of other people should be behind resolving to assist there and in making sure the streetcar system thus thrives. That's what Ray is saying above, and that's what I'm saying here.