Florida getting a train under its tree
December 9, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said today Florida is getting one heck of an early Christmas present – some $342 million for building the bullet train from Tampa to Orlando.
More specifically, Nelson said, the U.S. Department of Transportation has agreed to send Florida the money to complete construction of the planned high-speed rail link between the two Central Florida hubs now rather than later. Word of the windfall came today from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood during a noontime phone call with Nelson.
The call came on the heels of reports that the transportation agency intended to give to Florida another huge chunk of high-speed rail money because Wisconsin and Ohio didn’t want it. The newlyelected governors in those states are pulling the plug on such projects there.
The $342 million comes on top of $2.05 billion the federal government already awarded Florida. The state, meantime, has had to agree to pay $280 million. With the federal money today and the previous commitment, plus what the state has pledged, the $2.65 billion price tag for construction would be fully paid for, Nelson said.
“The federal government has stepped up and done its part,” he said. “There should be no reason now why this can’t get done.”
The decision puts the ball squarely in Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s court. During his campaign, Scott opposed high-speed rail. The New York Times today reported he will take another look at the numbers to see if the project is viable in his view.
Following is an Associated Press bulletin on DOT’s move.
Wis., Ohio high-speed rail money to go elsewhere
Dec. 9, 2010
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional sources say the Obama administration is taking $1.2 billion in high-speed rail money away from Ohio and Wisconsin and awarding it to projects in other states.
People familiar with the grants say the Department of Transportation will announce Thursday that California, Illinois and New York, among other states, will get a share of the funds.
Republican governors opposed to high-speed rail were elected in Ohio and Wisconsin in November. They have promised to kill projects in their states.
The sources spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly before the announcement.