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Remake Florida’s transportation system

By Staff | Mar 16, 2011

To the editor,

Regarding all the recent news coverage of high-speed rail in Florida: Many business and civic leaders are disappointed the state rejected the money for this project — if only because it would have brought 24,000 good-paying jobs to the state.

In turning down some $2.4 billion, Gov. Rick Scott cited cost as the overriding factor. He said Florida taxpayers would be forced to pay any cost overruns from the project.

It’s true: high-speed rail is not cheap. That’s a fact. But most big projects worth investing in are not cheap.

What I and others told the governor was that Floridians wouldn’t be on the hook for any cost overruns or operating expenses associated with the train, that private companies who support the high-speed rail line vowed to fund the state’s small share of the project.

I continue to believe it’s an opportunity to remake Florida’s transportation system, now comprised of a network of interstate highways that get clogged at rush hour and which will only get worse over the next few years. We can only add so many lanes and cars to our roadways. And it looks like the sky’s the limit on gasoline prices, thanks in part to greedy speculators.

Meantime, high-speed rail has helped other countries be more competitive in this global economy. I believe it would have been a major economic driver for Florida, too, and made the state an even better place to live and work.

Let’s just hope a consortium of Florida cities along the proposed route still is able to successfully compete for some of the money – and jobs. The deadline is April 4.

Bill Nelson

U.S. Senator, Florida