CFTE has been tracking the efforts to improve transportation choices in Hillsborough County, Florida for a few years now. It finally looks like light rail will be brought to Tampa, but not before 2010. Mayor Pam Iorio and local rail supporters have been lobbying extensively for a 1-cent sales tax to appear on the 2010 ballot. Two years ago Mayor Iorio went as far as releasing a "white paper" to explain the potential benefits of light rail to hundreds of regional lawmakers and business leaders.
Before any tax referendum can be placed on the ballot, it must be approved by the Hillsborough County Commission, which in the past, has been less than supportive of raising taxes for transportation. Recently, perhaps after the success of new systems like Lynx in Charlotte, several commissioners have changed their opinion of mass transit and at least one new supporter has been elected. It appears that the votes are are now there to get a sales tax measure on the ballot in 2010. Tampa may be the next big region to improve its transportation choices, but at the very least it looks like Hillsborough County voters will finally get a voice in the matter.