The city of Tampa will receive a $67.3 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation in its largest transit funding award ever given to the region.
Announced Tuesday afternoon, the state funded grant will go to the expansion of the TECO Line Streetcar System.
“We’re well on our way to the modernization and expansion of our streetcar system,” said Vik Bhide, Tampa mobility director. “To address the challenges of our times, particularly for mobility — crashes, congestion and climate change — transit was a critical component.”
The city plans to expand the current streetcar route to reach Tampa Heights, a $234 million project. The city is hopeful the news of state funding will help it secure a $100 million federal grant as well as approval from the Florida Supreme Court for a transportation sales tax that would help cover the local share of the cost.
The goal of expanding Tampa’s streetcar line is to extend its use beyond tourism, making it a viable option for everyday use among citizens. The city expects that by 2040, 100,000 people will be within walking distance of the streetcar system, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said.
Castor said the city also has plans to expand the system to reach north toward the University of South Florida, as well as to the east Tampa residential area and westward toward Tampa International Airport.
“This really is a great step for transforming Tampa’s tomorrow,” Castor said. “As many know, one of the elements of this administration’s focus is transportation — getting people to where they need to be in the most efficient and effective manner, and one of those elements that we are focused on is mass transit.”
The current streetcar system in the city was reopened in 2002 and was extended several years ago throughout the downtown area. Ridership has increased in recent years after officials removed the fare, as well as expansion downtown along Channelside and the Riverwalk.