WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today made the following statement regarding Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to decline high-speed rail dollars.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: “We are extremely disappointed by Governor Rick Scott’s decision to walk away from the job creating and economic development benefits of high speed rail in Florida. We worked with the governor to make sure we eliminated all financial risk for the state, instead requiring private businesses competing for the project to assume cost overruns and operating expenses. It is projects like these that will help America out-build our global competitors and lay the foundation needed to win the future. This project could have supported thousands of good-paying jobs for Floridians and helped grow Florida businesses, all while alleviating congestion on Florida’s highways. Nevertheless, there is overwhelming demand for high speed rail in other states that are enthusiastic to receive Florida’s funding and the economic benefits it can deliver, such as manufacturing and construction jobs, as well as private development along its corridors.”
As reported by The Sun Sentinel, Florida Democrats were even more scornful.
“Governor Scott’s decision demonstrates a devastating lack of vision for Florida and a lack of understanding of our economic situation,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa. “The governor put his own rigid ideology ahead of the best interests of Florida’s businesses, workers and families.”
Florida leaders from both parties have struggled for years to get federal funding to support development of high-speed rail service, starting with a link between Orlando and Tampa and eventually leading to service to Miami.
With much fanfare, the Obama administration announced that Florida would get $2.5 billion of stimulus money for the project, but Scott and some other Republicans questioned whether rail service would attract enough riders to be cost-effective.
Republicans in Washington and Tallahassee are challenging the strategy of pumping money into the economy to spur growth and create jobs. But to Democrats like Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, refusing long-sought federal money is an outrage.
“Clearly, the governor is not interested in either advancing Florida’s transportation network or creating quality jobs for Florida residents,” Brown said.
“Up until today, the state of Florida was in a perfect position to serve as the nation’s trailblazer in our country’s renaissance of high-speed passenger rail,” she said, “yet now, with the governor’s decision, we will continue to be the caboose.”
As a Miami Car Accident Attorney, it is evident that Florida’s highways are congested,and that said congestion has a direct correlation with automobile accidents. Reducing congestion and accidents are only some of the benefits that would have come with the High Speed Train Project. There of course is the very real benefits of job creation and reduced fuel consumption.
Given all the benefits from the High Speed Rail Project, It is difficult to understand Governor Scott’s reasons for declining the Federal Dollars.