Jessica Dailey

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Rejects $2.4 Billion for High Speed Rail

by , 02/17/11
filed under: Green Transportation

florida governor rick scott, rick scott high speed rail, high speed rail federal funds, rick scott rejects high speed rail, florida high speed rail

In a move that shocked and outraged officials and citizens, Florida Governor Rick Scott said he will reject the $2.4 billion in federal funds allotted for a high speed rail route from Tampa to Orlando, thus killing the entire project. The route would have been the first completed of Obama’s $53 billion high speed rail plan. Scott is the fourth Republican governor to reject federal funds for rail projects.

Florida was not required to spend anything on the project, but Scott felt that it still would have been too costly to taxpayers because of potential capital cost overruns. He said that data shows overrun costs occurring in nine out of ten high speed rail projects. High-speed rail experts from 11 different countries were planning to bid on building the rail, and the winning company — not the state of Florida — would have been required to cover the cost overruns for the next 20 years, according to a rail expert. But Scott pulled the plug before the companies could even submit proposals.

florida governor rick scott, rick scott high speed rail, high speed rail federal funds, rick scott rejects high speed rail, florida high speed railThe route would have run 84 miles from downtown Tampa to the Orlando International Airport, with a stop in Lakeland. The project was the nation’s most “shovel-ready” route, and it would have created nearly 100,000 jobs for Florida residents.

Scott’s decision solicited strong opinions from local officials and the media. A Florida city commissioner said the decision shows a lack of vision for the state’s needs. A writer for The Ledger said he serves an ideology, not the people of Florida. TIME Magazine equated the rejection to “slaughtering a gift horse and sending its disemboweled corpse back to Washington.”

In a letter to the Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, Scott wrote, “Put simply, the proposed high-speed rail line is far too uncertain and offers far too little long-term benefit for me to consider moving forward.” In prepared remarks, he added, “The answer is to reduce government spending, cut government’s leash on our state’s job creators and then hold government accountable for the investments it makes.”

In the same letter to LaHood, Scott outlined a list of infrastructure projects where he would like the money to go instead — but that’s not how the funds work. Along with the funds rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin, the money will be redistributed to other high speed rail projects throughout the country.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Florida is already filled with highways, and Scott’s decision is only pushing the state toward more gas-guzzling. High speed rail would have taken thousands of cars off the road and reduced dependence on polluting foreign oil. If governors continue to reject funds for high-speed rail, the future of America’s transportation could be dismal.

Via The Ledger

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22 Comments

  1. caeman February 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    If this high-speed rail is such a good idea, and will profit the two cities that much, then the residents of that region can fund it with their own tax dollars. Leave the federal budget out of it. If it such a good idea, surely some corporation would jump in a invest, knowing that their investment would be repaid. Surely!

    The beautiful part with cars, is that individuals buy them and own them. My tax dollars don’t buy them. That way, my tax dollars can go to more useful things like funding medical research.

  2. tesla February 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Yes, mosgjig logic is my friend but for most it is not. I’m not against the market, just it’s indiscriminate pull on the direction we take. The market is driven by many not so positive human emotions. The market and government must work in tandem to make sure we are the best we can be, and not leave anyone behind. All groups serve koolaid of their own blend, avoiding naivete is not getting addicted to one.

    Peace Out mosgjig

  3. RickB February 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I am also trying to initiate the type of carbon transition embodied in this plan, and have reviewed countless “climate planning documents” from the last 30 years. they generally include similar features: what is happening in Chicago to make this plan work? Who will pay for it? Do your efficiency standards maximize carbon reduction per dollar invested?

  4. mosgjig February 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

    ugh, please take some time and review history for your current view is sadly incorrect. Apply logic when doing so.

    Attempt at becoming a natural skeptic (don’t drink the koolaid)… does wonders, keeping one from becoming naive.

    mosgjig, out!

  5. tesla February 21, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Haa! Natural smooth transition of the marketplace? We just about drove off a cliff. Was the great depression a natural smooth transition?

  6. mosgjig February 21, 2011 at 9:15 am

    ok, so its either pick the natural smooth transition of the market place or the artificial smooth transition of the gov’t.

    I and others alike pick the market to be the better judge since its fellow people volunteering their own money and not some bureaucrat using other peoples money they forcibly take through taxation.

  7. lazyreader February 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Europe has suburbs too. They drive an awful lot. They have sprawl.

    http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=2643

  8. tesla February 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Mosgjig, I don’t despise the highway system or cars, they are both useful, but we are in serious need of an upgrade. It wasn’t wrong then because they had no idea of the problems we face now. It served it’s purpose at the time.

    As for the scramble, why put ourselves through that, when we can plan for a smooth transition.

    Yes those are good options, and seem to be planing for the future.

  9. mosgjig February 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    You both realize that the very system you two despise was created by the gov… that is the interstate system created by Eisenhower, in the name of investing for the future. Guess they had it wrong then, what makes you think they have it right now??

    Don’t rush into such big commitments, wait for peak oil and watch as people scramble to find more ingenious and sustainable solutions. Why jump the gun?

    If you wish to live in the US without having a vehicle, try out NYC, Chi-town, Boston or San Fran.

  10. tesla February 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks IanC, Again while we in the US continue to fight over what needs to be done, China, and Europe are taking the steps now to be competitive in the future. If we overly obsess about deficits now and don’t invest in the future we will only be further slipping in to third world status.

  11. IanC February 20, 2011 at 2:33 am

    I can not believe how many people are ignorant. Wake up America! Stop driving and develop a transit system that works. I am a US Citizen and moved to Europe in 2008. I am happy to say I do not need or own a car since I moved. I take transit wherever I go. The USA is pathetic. stop driving people. god!

  12. tesla February 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Yes Caeman, Our population is dispersed in the suburbs. Most try to live in the country and work in the city, further stressing the system. This too will change.

  13. mosgjig February 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

    @Tesla
    “America is going to have to accept the train or accept hardships.” lol

    train=hardship (financial) for those who will not use it.

    The answer to this debate is real simple… if there was a true need for it, the train would have been in existence already without gov’t help. The true culprit is the hidden cost of oil through subsidies whether directly (foreign aid to dictators n such) or indirectly (department of “defense”). Remove them to expose oil’s true price and you shall see renew-ables and alternatives become more competitive and thus prevalent.

  14. caeman February 18, 2011 at 9:23 am

    “America is going to have to accept the train or accept hardships.”

    The hardship is already here…the debt they incur. A debt level that your kids are going to you hate for having created when their wages are ever decreased to pay for your mad science.

    You do understand that a vast majority of Americans don’t live in cities, yes?

  15. lazyreader February 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Theirs always room for opinion and time for a debate. We may accuse others of bias, just admit it. I’m biased already, but I try to be fair.

  16. lazyreader February 18, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Thank you caeman, you beat me to the punch for once. I’ve been bitching about high-speed rail for weeks. When people ask why the railroad business failed so many years ago, technically they didn’t….Mostly they simply prioritized freight as opposed to people. Some others did fail, they failed because they thought they were in the railroad business; they were not, they were in the transportation business (Just like Microsoft is in the software business. If they don’t offer an evolving and lucrative service every few years, we’ll stop buying it and hardware makers will simply look elsewhere) And when planes and cars outperformed trains in speed and convenience respectivley, they just sunk. Whatever rail scheme they have. The states are going to pay for it, then have to subsidize as much as half the operating costs to begin with, for years, and when the damn thing is worn out, the few people who still use it are gonna form a lobby to keep it going and rebuild it entirely.

    So maybe rail won’t work in your little town. But what about New York or Chicago? Well, the New York City subway is the most cost efficient rail system in the country. Something to be proud of. Still….it’s very costly. Their agencies are always on the verge of some fiscal turmoil or some scandals involving cost overruns. Their behind on their maintenance. They have ignored maintenance issues in favor of expanding and building additional lines under the belief they’ll draw in more riders and fares to pay for it in the future. A NYC agency employee turned whistle-blower (and fired for having been found leaking information) has said ”We will never have enough money to keep the system maintained”, ”Doesn’t matter how much you give us it’ll never be enough”. Because every time you give them more money, they just go out and build more instead of maintain what they already have.

    The Big Four. People who are disabled, too old, too young, too poor (or otherwise unable to drive) have long been the major users of public transit. Planners attempts to attract middle-class commuters out of their autos by building expensive rail projects have often simply hurt transit-dependent people as fares increase and service is cut back in order to pay for rail construction. High-speed rail is not different. It’s the vehicular equivalent to Gentrification (in which development of urban areas led to financially ousting the lower income natives in favor of the yuppies). But instead of building high-cost, high-capacity rail lines, planners should focus on designing transit systems to serve urban areas. That means using low-capacity jitneys, shuttle vans, and demand-responsive transit systems. It also means de-monopolizing public transit, opening the door for private providers of transportation services who might be able to do so cheaper.

  17. Tesla February 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    The Maglev would have been powered by electricity the whhole way. The Chevy Volt will only go 40 miles before the gasoline generator kicks in. The electric portion of the Volt is only good for trips around town. The train is the only option that can be compleetly powered by renewable energy. America is going to have to accept the train or accept hardships. Why not take the train to your destination and then rent a Volt to get around town.

  18. caeman February 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Maglev rail has huge maintenance costs. You want an ever-increasing of your state taxes and my federal taxes going to support that when the money could better help with health care, food and shelter for the low and no-income of America?

    America is not a train-friendly nation. Accept that. Unless you live in the city, our country is too wide-spread. Trains are too limiting. Why ask residents of Nebraska to allow portions of their tax dollars to pay for a train in Florida? And don’t forget that were it not for the US government funding Amtrack, it wouldn’t exist.

    One can be green and profitable at the same time. People-carrying trains are not green, or profitable. Trains disrupted land, water ways and animal habitats.

    Regarding the labor part, America needs a broad manufacturing base, not construction workers. Without a manufacturing, we have become a service economy, which is an essential element to our financial problems.

  19. ishken February 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    So the fact that this would have generated thousands of jobs and begun a huge effort to remove highway congestion and eliminate the ridiculous amount of spending used on highway expansion costs plays no part in why maglev rail would be a good idea, especially where I live in South Florida?

    This is just another example of a governor putting his parties idealistic dogma ahead of the people he is supposed to serve.

  20. clarketom February 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Good job Caeman! Couldn’t have said it better myself. But you can’t expect a balanced story from this website.

  21. mosgjig February 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Awesome! Living in Tampa for the past 14 years and making the trek to O-town on the regular i can assure you that the rail line would not remove any cars. The two cities are simply sprawled out suburbs with a weak center. When one arrives at their destination they will need a gas guzzler to get themselves around town.

  22. caeman February 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

    There is no proof that the high-speed rail would have removed thousands of cars. Those pie-in-the-sky numbers have never been proven in any other case of mass-transit. That $2.4B could buy 60,000 Chevy Volts, which would then leave tax payers with no future costs (maintenance is paid by the owner, not the state) as no rail system in the America that carries people makes a profit. They are all propped up by tax payer funds. Those 60,000 EVs would remove more gas guzzlers from the roads than any train.

    Rail is not end all, be all solution to green. They require huge amounts of manufacturing to produce the rails, construct new/upgrade old rail beds, maintenance costs…in other words, the state of Florida would forever have to fund a losing proposition.

    Rail is also a waste of land. Rail can only go to one place. Roads go many places.

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