Friday, 6 August 2010

Streetcar Extension is Making Tracks

When you hop off the TECO Line Streetcar System at its current terminus near the Tampa Convention Center, you can just about catch a glimpse of downtown. "Just a little farther," you might think, "and it would be right there!"

Well, soon it will be right there. A 1/3-mile extension of the system to the corner of Franklin and Whiting Streets has been underway since October, and is right on schedule to open by the end of this year. Let's take a look!

Here's where the current line ends on Franklin.
First, we'll get our bearings. Right now, the streetcar line ends on Franklin Street, just south of Channelside Drive - which is just about at the front door of the Tampa Convention Center, next to the Embassy Suites hotel.

The extension will take the line north on Franklin, under the Selmon Expressway overpass, through the Brorein intersection, and just past the Ft. Brooke garage. The new end of the line will be between the downtown YMCA and Hattricks, and across the street from the Poe Plaza esplanade.

Got it? If you need more visuals, click here for a map.

Double tracks near the Ft. Brooke garage let streetcars pass
Now that you know where we're going, let's see how we're going to get there. As of this writing, new tracks have been installed from the current end of the line all the way up to Whiting Street, including a section of double track between Brorein and Cumberland that will allow two streetcars traveling in opposite directions to pass each other. In addition, the system of overhead catenary wires that powers the streetcars has begun with installation of the pole foundations.

Lots of work has been done on utilities and stormwater drainage, along with demolition for the new station stop at Franklin and Whiting.

Track installation is expected to be completed this month with the finishing of a turn-out, the Cumberland Avenue crossing, and a short section of double track between Brorein Street and Cumberland.

Looking south from Whiting;
new station will soon take shape on the left
The next big step is construction of the brand new station stop, which begins this month and should be wrapped up in November.

So by Christmas, when you take the TECO Line Streetcar System toward downtown, you won't just have to glimpse those tall buildings. You'll already be there (shout out to our friend Dave Pinero over at the Tampa Rail blog for the downtown photo below).

For more information and updates on the TECO Line Streetcar System's extension to Whiting Street, click here.

Your final destination!

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