$4.8M coming for high speed ferry

Tampa, Florida --- It's a scheme to get commuters off the streets and into the water, a proposed high speed ferry that could save MacDill commuters millions of miles on the road per year.

In 2016, you may very well see a high speed ferry pulling in to downtown Tampa to take you for a night out on the town, too.

"The goal is to get people who live as far south as Apollo Beach, maybe even Ruskin and Sun City, to a point where they can come across to MacDill," said Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Mark Sharpe.

If you work at MacDill, chances are you've hit some traffic in your commute to base.

Now thanks to new money on its way from Washington, you could be boating through the Bay on your way to work with, "fast passenger ferry boats running from south county to MacDill Airforce Base," said former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik.

The route would run from the southern part of the county to MacDill on weekdays. On nights and weekends, the ferry would go to downtown Tampa and St. Pete based on demand.

POLL:Would you take a high speed ferry across Tampa Bay?

Turanchik says the project has been in the works for about 10 years now, but on Monday Congresswoman Cathy Castor announced $4.8 million in federal money to help launch the commuter ferry.

"That money has a short fuse on it, so it's kind of use it or lose it," Turanchik said.

But does the money make things easier? Commissioner Mark Sharp doesn't think so.

"Nothing's easier when you get money from Washington, so we're going to have to be very careful obviously," he said.

Turanchik says the project will cost about $23 million at a bargain.

"It'd be like building two-thirds of a lane of interstate between south county and MacDill for the cost of an off ramp," he said.

Terminals are planned at MacDill Air Force Base, Gibsonton, downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg.


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