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In a move that has many shaking their heads in disbelief, Florida's newly elected Governor Rick Scott is refusing to accept $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money in an attempt to kill a long-desired high speed rail project that the funds were meant to kick start. Florida Senator Bill Nelson is not ready to give up on a project that has already seen several hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in preparations and is in talks with Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood to find a way to keep the project alive.

Floridians knew Scott wasn't enthusiastic about the project and, doubting previously completed studies, had said he would order his own ridership study. Apparently, that's one promise that will go unfulfilled. He's also stated that the project would likely go over budget, but the companies lined up to build and operate the system over the next thirty years have said they would cover any overruns.

The project, if it makes it through this impasse, could provide as many as 24,000 jobs and begin with a line between Tampa and Orlando. Later additions could link up with Miami and possibly Jacksonville. For more reaction on the Scott decision, check out the High Speed Rail Association's website.

[Source: WOKV.com / High Speed Rail Association]


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  • 103 Comments
      • 5 Months Ago
      Big-D: You and most Floridians so completely miss the point of high-speed rail and what it would do for your state. There is a saying about not being able to see past your nose, or some about the forest and trees yada, yada yada.

      First of all, I should say I also lived (past tense) in Florida. First in Jacksonville, then Tampa and worked in Lakeland. Unlike most native Floridians, who don't stray very far beyond their immediate neighborhoods, I stomped all over the state. Jax, Daytona Beach Orlando, Sebring, Ocala, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, The Keys, Tampa Bay area, and quite a few other places sprinkled in. Your state relies heavily on tourism, but most of your tourist destinations are sprinkled far and wide across the state.

      Here is why, you NEED high-speed in Florida:

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      TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Feb 16, 2009) – Reversing several years of steady annual increases, the number of visitors coming to Florida fell in 2008 as compared to the previous year. According to preliminary* estimates released today by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, an estimated 82.5 million visitors came to Florida in 2008, a decrease of 2.3 percent.
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      Miami Beach to Disney World - 243 miles.

      Daytona Beach to Miami Beach - 293 miles.

      West Palm Beach to Disney World - 150 miles.

      Cape Canaveral, to Miami Beach - 217miles.

      Daytona Beach to Key West - 262miles.

      If your tourist destination is anyone of these places, you're more or less stuck there or you have pick up and move from place to place or be faced with a hours upon hours on the highway instead of vacationing. Even if the Floridians don't know what to do with high-speed, believe me, 90+ million tourist will.

      Floridians couldn't get picking a president right, you expect them to understand an issue as complex as this?

      • 5 Months Ago
      Let's see. I live out west. I don't go to Florida, except twice to go to Disney World... and only then because my job sent me there. But through the marvel of what we today call Congress and "earmarks" I get to help pay for a stupid train between Tampa and Orlando so people who live in Florida can get to Disney World faster.

      Great. Thanks for letting me donate to something that stupid. Maybe next I can help drill for oil in some foreign country... like maybe Brazil or Mexico...

      Oh wait. We are already doing that too...

      Nice.
      harlanx6
      • 5 Months Ago
      I question whether the huge investment will be anything other than the Concorde was, a novelty more than a standard form of transportation. High speed rail does work under certain conditions, but does it work as well in a society where every adult family member has a car? If you are expecting "peak oil" to make it much more desirable you need to sober up!
        • 5 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Hi Harlan,
        I enjoy discussion with you because you are prepared to look at the data.
        See the post on oil prices and supply I made in response to you in:
        'Study: Worldwide sales of electric vehicles could hit 30M by 2050'
        • 5 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        It could've taken you five seconds to see that high speed rail isn't some Concorde-like experiment. Get out of your USA! USA! USA! bubble and do some research. High speed rail has been successful in Japan, Germany, France, Spain and a bit of the UK for decades now. Even the abortion that is Acela Express is wildly popular in the Northeast here in the US.
        harlanx6
        • 5 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        The data looks like the supply is dwindling, but we know that isn't true. Is the data suspect then? When I was buying gasoline in 1958 it was a quarter (25c) a gallon. An engineering degree got you $400/month. What does an engineering degree get you now? To me, 25 cents/gallon then is equivalent to what we pay now, with the increased taxes, and we know the supply is heavily manipulated. Our government seems to be intent on making it very difficult to develop new oil sources, but still, we have adequate supply. Auto makers are scrambling to make cars use less fuel and they are developing alternate energy vehicles as quickly as they can afford. If the oil producers don't keep it cheap, it will accelerate the transition to alternate sources of energy. I think they know that is not in their interest. You saw what happened in the oil bubble of '08. I panicked and bought a 60 MPG+ vehicle. If I had it to do over again, I would have kept the money. For the next couple of decades it's probably going to remain an oil economy. After that, maybe we will have gotten a lot smarter.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Hmm, if you are talking about sobriety perhaps you would provide sourced references to this infinite supply of cheap oil that you seem to think we have.
        Opinions are wonderful things, but even better for having sound grounding.
        harlanx6
        • 5 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        David Martin, I always pay attention to your responses because you make sense, however, in the case of oil supply, although it is manipulated and politicized the evidence is there has been no problems supplying the huge amounts of oil we need. Though shortages have been predicted for decades, we have no problems finding the fuel we need, nor is the price (except for taxes) exorbitant by any measure. The mechanism is profit. As fuel prices rise, more and more suppliers become profitable, exceeding demand and keeping the price in a reasonable zone. The technological advance in the production of oil are keeping up with demand . I think we basically agree, but differ in our expected time table. I can't predict the future, but I expect new technologies to lead us to better energy source faster than Exxon would like, keeping supply and demand in check. I can't quote you statistics, but I don't trust them anyway. Do we have enough oil? Yes! Is it too expensive? No!
      • 5 Months Ago
      I Agree with rick scott's decision to kill the project, although I Dont support either of the two parties.

      Florida High speed rail is a waste of time and money, sure high speed rail is great, but it's a waste.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Before people start painting all Republicans as being opposed to high-speed rail, remember that former governor Charlie Crist was a Republican and a big supporter and Ray Lahood is a Republican, despite being part of the Obama administration.

      There are reasonable, intelligent Republicans out there. Rick Scott just isn't one of them.
        • 5 Months Ago
        There were reasonable, intelligent Republicans - they've been losing a lot of primaries lately.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I used to know a lot of reasonable and intelligent republicans too. Alas their party has slipped away from them and many are at a loss as to what to do.

        This country is way too large for only two parties, which is why we need to implement instant run-off voting. It would allow for a wider range of parties to actually participate in the elections, and would reduce the number of fringe candidates getting elected (i.e. you have to appeal to more than just a motivated "base")
        • 5 Months Ago
        There are in fact plenty of sane Republicans. But they're now being labeled by the majority of Republicans as anti-American socialist communists. They identify themselves as Republicans, but they're really not at this point.
      • 4 Years Ago
      amtrak is not high speed rail though. also there seem to be a lot of people in denial about oil and pollution who seem to think that the planet is a bottomless pit of resources to be exploited.

      transport is as much about economic activity and mobility of labor as it is about making a profit. most people do not travel for the sake of it they go somewhere for business and pleasure or other reasons and they spend money when they get there. so if the service makes a loss it doesnt matter if these are outweighed by the economic benefits.

      also it depends on your definition of profit. hs1 in the uk (domestic commuter 125mph shared with 185 mph eurostar) carried 7 million passengers last year but did not make a profit. however with all the other benefits such as increased property values and also from the 8% of passengers who previously used their cars there was a net economic benefit.

      also even if you dont use hsr and drive or fly instead you still benefit through reduced congestion and journey times. Also, the proposed florida line would have run along the already state owned and provided median strip of the interstate and the proposed line was only the first stage.

      Finally, I understand that the plan was approved by a vote in the florida legislature - if this is the case what scott has done would be undemocratic (lol!) and possibly unconstitutional





      • 4 Years Ago
      You make a great point about getting what you vote for. So few turned out for this election in Florida - it was truly irresponsible and we are now paying the price. Anyone who expected more (or less) from Rick Scott is culpable for this and all off his future blunders. It is time to seriously evaluate a recall process for Florida before more serious damage is done.
      • 4 Years Ago
      High speed rail in Florida may be a great thing, but I wish Obama would shift enough money over to Amtrak so they could install positive train control on all their routes so that normal Amtrak passenger trains would be able to go up from their federally mandated top speed of 79 mph to a more reasonable 110-115 mph, where it is feasible. If the US could get their regular trains up to 115 mph and keep them on time as they have been for the past couple years as opposed to the clust**#### that they had a few years ago, maybe even more voters would see the value in trains.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Trust me when I say you do not want Amtrak running at those speeds on the various freight rail lines. CNN would be very busy.
        They need PTC, all railroads need it. What Amtrak needs is dedicated very high speed rail lines. Think TGV or Japans systems. It could get you coast to coast in under a day, or make a two hundred mile one way commute reasonable on a daily basis.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I agree that the positive train control rollout needs to be pushed forward. The standard GE Genesis diesel locomotives that Amtrak uses are all capable of 110 mph (they were designed during a previous phase of optimism about faster trains around the same time as the Acela was being planned). Of course, going above 79 mph also requires improvements to the physical rails and to grade crossings (which should really be grade-separated more often), but I have to think there are spots which could go to at least 90 with minimal effort.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I must agree with the Incidental as well as the lateral benifits of HSR.,However, let the private sector detemine how much this is needed, or not needed . The public sector ( GOV T ) does not need to involve itself ... until .... private buss. feels athere is a need for HSR or the likes of.
      Level4
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good I hope Rick Scott succeeds if it's anything like the MTA in NYC it will become a huge money pit costing the tax payers more $$$ in the long rung just to keep the rail open besides the starting cost...Last its cheaper to fly......
      • 5 Months Ago
      This is a joke anyway. It's not the "high speed rail" you think of when you think of bullet trains. Most of these go 60-100 MPH. It's a waste of government money. If we really want train transit, they need to go to bullet trains.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Exactly. That's what I was trying to say. These projects keep calling themselves "high speed rail," but there is no way they'll probably ever reach over 60-100 MPH. You can't do that sharing tracks with "regular trains," it's simply not possible. Until they do actual "maglev" bullet trains that stop at only major city centers, every dime they spend on this is wasted money. They need to do it like they do airports. Have major train stations every couple hundred miles that people go to and take the train. That way you can get 300 MPH trains that actually go 300 MPH to each city and it can rival air travel. Yes, it will cost more, but people will be MUCH more likely to use it. Who wants to stop every 30 minutes to wait for another train or let people on...?
        • 5 Months Ago
        Bob, the entire point of this *is* to build a "bullet" train system. This would be a 167 mph/186 mph high speed rail system.
        • 5 Months Ago
        The Acela train was sold to the public as a "150 mph" fast rail, but once built they found they simply couldn't reach those speeds safely as the rails weren't up to it and they were sharing tracks with freight. All these "US high speed rail" proposals have the same flaw, and they're likely to have the same results. Over-promise and under-deliver.

        The California high speed rail proposal is supposed to go 200 mph, or maybe 250 mph, depending on which promoter you're talking to. But it too will share tracks with freight trains and commuter rail as a "cost cutting" measure, which of course means they will never get close to those claimed speeds. The designers have already admitted that the section between San Jose and San Francisco will be running on Cal Train commuter tracks and be limited to a maximum speed of 60 mph.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Exactly. That's what I was trying to say. These projects keep calling themselves "high speed rail," but there is no way they'll probably ever reach over 60-100 MPH. You can't do that sharing tracks with "regular trains," it's simply not possible. Until they do actual "maglev" bullet trains that stop at only major city centers, every dime they spend on this is wasted money. They need to do it like they do airports. Have major train stations every couple hundred miles that people go to and take the train. That way you can get 300 MPH trains that actually go 300 MPH to each city and it can rival air travel. Yes, it will cost more, but people will be MUCH more likely to use it. Who wants to stop every 30 minutes to wait for another train or let people on...?
        • 5 Months Ago
        If you're stopping every 20 minutes at every city, it's not high speed anyway... And you're not going to get very far.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Exactly. That's what I was trying to say. These projects keep calling themselves "high speed rail," but there is no way they'll probably ever reach over 60-100 MPH. You can't do that sharing tracks with "regular trains," it's simply not possible. Until they do actual "maglev" bullet trains that stop at only major city centers, every dime they spend on this is wasted money. They need to do it like they do airports. Have major train stations every couple hundred miles that people go to and take the train. That way you can get 300 MPH trains that actually go 300 MPH to each city and it can rival air travel. Yes, it will cost more, but people will be MUCH more likely to use it. Who wants to stop every 30 minutes to wait for another train or let people on...?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Even if all of the construction overruns are eaten by the contractors (which means they have a lot of fluff built in to begin with), the state of Florida will have to cover the inevitable operating losses. There are much more cost effective projects that could be done. Anyone who thinks this is a grand idea is ignoring the basic economics of the situation and the dire financial straights that this country and almost every state is in. Better that we send the money back to China and tell them we didn't need it after all.
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