Mayoral candidate Turanchik unveils mixed-mode transportation plan

- Hillsborough County voters approved adding a penny to the sales tax last November to be used for transportation, but they did so without a master plan for mass transit. Now, Tampa mayoral candidate and former county commissioner Ed Turanchik says he is offering the most specific and detailed plan. 

He calls it the "Go Plan." 

"It's 107 miles of congestion-proof transit that lets people go without being worried about being stuck in traffic. And all for a fraction of the cost we've ever discussed," explained the longtime transportation advocate who was once dubbed "Choo Choo Turanchik" because of his advocacy for rail to ease traffic woes. 

Turanchik planned to debut the plan to supporters at his Ybor City headquarters and on-line Monday night. The plan combines new technologies like autonomous trams and electric buses with traditional modes like ferries and water taxis, and trains using existing CSX rail lines. 

The interconnected system would reach Westshore, Downtown, South Tampa, New Tampa, USF, the airport, and the South Shore.

"It would affordably and quickly connect people from where they live to where they work, play, and go to school," said Turanchik.

Turanchik says traffic is a top concern for voters, but he's not the only candidate addressing it. Councilman and candidate Harry Cohen points to part of his web site dedicated to transportation. He also calls for using existing CSX tracks, expanding the streetcar system, and building a downtown station to tie in to the Brightline train that will connect Tampa with Disney and Orlando. 

Turanchik cautions against wasting the $15-billion that will be raised by the tax over the next 30 years. 

"We can't turn all this money over to consultants and lobbyists, special interests and developers," he said. 

Turanchik says building more highway lanes isn't the answer to a problem that's put Tampa near the bottom compared with other cities on mass transit. 

"It's time for us to get going. We've been stuck in traffic for a long time. Now we need a plan that works and a mayor who knows how to make it work," he added.

Candidate David Straz also has transportation proposals, according to a spokesperson, like reengineering the traffic control grid and restoring budget cuts that slashed local bus service. 

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