Tampa airport wins $194 million in state funds

Associated PressMarch 6, 2014 

TAMPA -- Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that the state will give Tampa International Airport $194 million to help pay for the largest expansion since the facility's opening in 1971.

Scott was at the airport to make the announcement, along with dozens of local officials, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

The money will be used for a new rental car center, transit stop and people mover. Officials say the car rentals will be in a new building near the airport's entrance, and a people mover will connect the terminal and the rental center.

There are also plans for outdoor seating, restaurants and larger holding areas.

The state money, combined with nearly $750 million contributed by the airport, airlines and other stakeholders, means that the entire project will come to nearly a billion dollars

The money still must be approved by the state Legislature.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and could be completed by 2017. Scott says the project will create about 7,000 jobs.

Scott addressed a question of why he rejected billions of dollars in federal money for a high speed rail system linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami, but is supporting this project.

"I want to make sure your money is spent where we can get a return. I want to make sure you're not going to be stuck with a project that doesn't make sense long-term," he said. "The federal government was going to give us some money, we had to finish the project."

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