(September 18, 2014) - The U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx met with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce at Tampa International Airport on Thursday to discuss infrastructure investment, mass transit options, passenger rail and the importance of working together as a forward-thinking community.
“In the next 35 years, we’re going to have 100 million more people in this country and you’re going to see a lot of that number right here in Florida and right here in the Tampa area,” said Foxx during a news conference after the meeting. “We still need to continue investing in our road systems … But you’re going to find in the next 35 years, some places are going to need some different options. That’s where transit comes into play, that’s where commuter rail comes into play, that’s where bicycles and pedestrian facilities come into play.”
Foxx commended the Tampa Bay area’s transportation leaders, including those at Tampa International Airport, for collaborating on “efforts to create a bold transit system in this area.”
“You’ve got a (light-rail and bus system) referendum in an adjacent (Pinellas) county. You’ve got a lot of activity with I-4. You’ve got an airport that, from all accounts, seems to be bustling,” Foxx said. “You’ve got plenty to say grace over here, but you have to continue building that vision and continue working toward the goal of providing maximum mobility for all the folks who use these systems.”
Tampa Chamber CEO Bob Rohrlack said the roundtable group also discussed the “aggressive plans for the airport.”
“We see those plans as being centerpiece for the Bay-wide transportation system,” Rohrlack said.
Airport CEO Joe Lopano pointed to crowds coming off of the shuttles in the main terminal as an example of how many more people are coming and going these days, and how it might look 20 years from now as the area’s population continues to grow. He stressed the importance of strengthening community partnerships and using teamwork to secure funding and keep transit projects moving forward.
“We have to work as a region, as Secretary Foxx said, and as a team,” Lopano said. “I think we’re doing that very well.”