Bullet train Is Dead In Its Tracks

Governor Jeb Bush derailed Florida's $6.3 billion bullet train Thursday, recommending that state lawmakers steer high-speed rail money toward more conventional mass transit.

"The financial structure of this deal was not viable - I am absolutely convinced of that", Bush said.

In killing the project - which would have linked Miami, Orlando and Tampa - Bush endorsed increased spending on light-rail projects, aviation and port improvements. He suggested bullet-train money could go toward enhancing people-moving efforts tied to the Tampa-Orlando area's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"I think it's appropriate for the state to begin looking at...projects that might assist in that area", Bush said.

The state would have had a 40-year commitment to the project. It would have started next year at $70 million and increased by 4 percent each year. Money would have come from gas-tax revenue.

Although the Legistature could buck Florida's new Republican governor and keep the project alive, that prospect looks remote.

Thursday, local Olympic organizers said while high-speed rail would have been nice, its absence isn't a deal killer.

However, Florida 2012 President Ed Turanchik said some sort of rail service linking Tampa Bay and Orlando--even if nominal--probably is needed for a successful Olympic bid. Bush's remarks suggest he already may be looking at that, though competition for those extra transportation dollars will be fierce.
excerpts from: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/011599_SPEED15.html


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