Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio urged a panel of state transportation officials Monday not to interpret the failure of a penny sales tax referendum for light rail in Hillsborough County as a lack of interest in high-speed rail in the area.

Iorio spoke in Tampa to the Florida Statewide Passenger Rail Commission before Florida Department of Transportation officials presented progress on planning for the construction of the nation’s first high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando.

Voters soundly rejected a referendum Nov. 2 for a penny sales tax increase in Hillsborough, much of which would have gone to fund light rail to connect to a high-speed rail line planned for downtown Tampa.

Iorio told rail commissioners that even though the measure failed, the region is still looking forward to high-speed rail linking Tampa and Orlando, and vowed efforts for light rail in the Tampa Bay area would “not go by the wayside.”

But when commissioners asked Iorio when she expected efforts to secure light rail funding to resume, she did not have a timetable.

“It’s a little bit too early to say right now,” she told the commission.

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