Greenlight Pinellas receives endorsement from two Tampa Chambers of Commerce

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Greenlight Pinellas received two cross-Tampa Bay business endorsements on Thursday, from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and South Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Both organizations approved the plan for bus service upgrades and a commuter rail corridor in Pinellas County, with will also offer additional transit connections to Hillsborough County.

In November, Pinellas County voters will be asked to approve an additional one-percent sales tax, raising it from 7 to 8 percent, to be used for expanded bus service countywide and the construction of a light-rail route between St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach.

“Greenlight Pinellas is the first step towards a regional system and will benefit the entire region,” said Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chair Robin DeLaVergne. “It will create connections between Tampa International Airport and Pinellas beaches, as well as link the growing Gateway and Westshore districts.”

Planned improvements in Greenlight Pinellas include express bus service every 30-minutes to Westshore and Downtown Tampa by 2015. Currently, service to Tampa is weekdays at rush hour, and no Westshore connection or any weekend service at all.

Future service will be a seven-day-a-week link between Westshore and Downtown Tampa to Downtown Clearwater, East Lake and Downtown St. Petersburg. The proposed rail system would ultimately connect to a Hillsborough rail system, via a new Howard Frankland Bridge.

“Greenlight Pinellas can have a transformative impact on Tampa residents, too,” said South Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Starr Tyrka. “Imagine being able to ride a bus or train with wi-fi, while avoiding the stress of driving Interstate 275. Less time on the road means more time at home and the quality of life in the region will improve.”

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce had contributed $2,000 to Friends of Greenlight, the political committee supporting Greenlight Pinellas.

In supporting Greenlight Pinellas, the two Tampa Chambers joins six other Pinellas business organizations endorsing the plan: St. Petersburg Area Chamber, Clearwater Regional Chamber, Central Pinellas Chamber, Dunedin Chamber, Palm Harbor Chamber, and Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.