High-speed rail to connect Hernando County’s Walmarts

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By Frank Fencil | frank.fencil@springhillcourier.com

BROOKSVILLE, Florida — Put away your walking stick, you’ll soon be at Walmart twice as quick.

Gov. Rick Scott and county officials have announced an $85 million high-speed rail project that will connect each of Hernando County’s three existing Walmart Supercenters as well as the Walmart Neighborhood Market slated to open some time in 2015.

“This is an amazing project that will radically transform the quality of life for our residents,” Scott said in a joint press conference with the mayors of Brooksville and Spring Hill. “We’re getting Floridians back to work at growing, innovative and local businesses, like Walmart on 19, Walmart on 50 and Walmart on 41.”

County transportation officials put together the proposal after collecting eight years’ worth of data from riders of THE Bus, the county’s lone form of public transit.

“We looked at the habits of riders for years and a very clear pattern emerged,” said Gumlat Jahn, an engineer with the German-based logistics firm hired to conduct the study. “It became very clear very early on that people were getting on at many different places but were traveling almost exclusively among the Walmarts, whether that was because they shopped there or worked there. It was all sort of an endless cycle these people are struggling to break free of.”

The study also identified several neighborhoods most likely to use the rail. Stations are planned for those locations, including Kass Circle, the old Checkers at Spring Hill and Mariner, a two-way connection at Northcliffe and Mariner, Mermaid Station at Weeki Wachee, and Timber Pines.

Passes will be sold at several price points, beginning as low as a one-use pass for $2, and the costs for weekly, monthly and annual passes can be deducted directly from Walmart payroll checks.

Frank Fencil

Frank Fencil is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades' experience. He has uncovered government corruption, toppled dirty police forces and covered two foreign wars as an international correspondent. He chose to return to his native Spring Hill in hopes of giving his hometown the quality watchdog journalism it deserves.

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