Currently viewing the tag: "Tampa"

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Last week, I had the displeasure of traveling along the entire length of I-4 from Daytona Beach to Tampa. Along the way, I witnessed unbearable traffic, some routine and some the result of a horrific tractor trailer crash just west of Sanford (Note: another crash Sunday backed up traffic for over 5 miles). While not particularly high on the list for the most congested interstates in the US, the Daily Beast, using figures from the National Highway Safety Administration, finds I-4 to be the third deadliest highway in the United States. Take a look at number one on that list - Florida’s own I-95 - another highway slated to have a safer rail alternative, should HSR come to fruition…

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  • Changing the practice of architecture: A group of Scottish scientists have invented a 3-d laser modeling device that produces ultrafine images of structures.   “The drawings and computer simulations long cooked up by developers and architects will be replaced by more detailed, easier-to-comprehend, more objective views, in essence democratizing knowledge.” (NY Times)
  • Still truckin': The rally for SunRail is gaining momentum as various civic groups and elected officials back the rail plan. (Winter Park Observer)
  • Congratulations Miami, your political landscape has changed dramatically. What will that mean for transit, walkability and cycling? Only time will tell. (Herald)
  • Why aren’t we doing this:  Check out this great article from the Transport Politic about Tampa’s plans to fund a light rail expansion with a penny sales tax. “The local Metropolitan Planning Organization incorporated the rail project into its long-term plans and has completely reversed course in favor of transit funding; current spending is tilted 83% to highways, while the long-term plan, with almost $12 billion in expenditures earmarked by 2035, provides for a 50-50 split between transit and roads.” This is exactly the sort of shift that needs to happen with our own MPO. It is time to dramatically alter the funding formula of the MPO in favor of mass transit and non-motorized transportation. (Transport Politic)
  • Good News/Bad News: The commission adopted a series of bus service cuts/adjustments, increasing headways in most instances. The good news is that they abolished bus to bus transfers. (Miami Dade County)

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As the USDOT pares down the list of applicants to the final recipients for the $8 billion available for High Speed rail, we hope existing regional, and local connectivity plays a significant role in the final assessment – a decision which certainly wouldn’t bode well for Florida’s proposed Orlando-Tampa connection. The Transport Politic aptly notes the eastern terminus of the proposed Florida HSR is located in the southern exurbs or Orlando – far from the rapidly urbanizing downtown, far from the Lynx BRT, and far from any existing or planned transportation infrastructure. A suburban terminal for the Florida HSR, or any other HSR, would foster more experiences like the one profiled by NPR in this recent expose on one family’s Amtrak journey across North Carolina – stranded in a new city with few affordable mobility alternatives. While HSR could alleviate intraregional travel needs, it would just as easily prove ineffective without comprehensive transit infrastructure, linked to regional and local transit systems in order to make any significant impact on our daily routines.

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Like many on their Thanksgiving holiday, I had the arduous task of traveling in order to meet up with the family. Only this time I decided to travel to Tampa, Fl by train rather than car. The Amtrak experience was more interesting than what I thought. For starters the Miami station was a bit of a disappointment, it looked dilapidated and in need of an upgrade. Then again, it probably won’t get one since Amtrak will be moving into the MIC, Miami Intermodal Center, once it finally gets completed.

The Miami station has only two trains leaving a day, the Silver Meteor at 7:50 a.m. and the Silver Star at 8:50 a.m., and both end up in New York-Penn Station. Of the two the Silver Star connects to Tampa while the Silver Meteor travels directly to Orlando.

The train was quite comfortable with ample room for your carry on bag, your luggage and still had room to spread your legs. Also, every row of seats had its own power outlet which came in handy during the trip. During the five hour and twenty minute trip the only annoyance was the constant stop and go in the urban areas of South Florida and Tampa. I have to believe that these stops where for dispatching in order to get permission to access the track and/or other trains where ahead of it. If these stops where eliminated or kept to a minimum I believe at least one hour would have been saved on the trip.

I was impressed to see that the train was sold out to Tampa, and it was evident when the train stopped at the historic Tampa Union Station in downtown Tampa.

Let’s just say I was glad I was able to keep my luggage with me. In such a populous state as Florida the need for its own rail system is obvious. Rather it’s on a high speed train system or not the demand is there.

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