State Senator Paula Dockery
This morning I spoke to Governor Rick Scott who informed me of his decision to turn back $2.4 billion to the federal government. I expressed my disappointment that Floridians will lose the opportunity to have the first true High Speed Rail system in the nation and even more so in the loss of thousands of high wage jobs that it would bring. Seven teams were planning to bid on the Florida High Speed Rail project representing companies from 11 different countries including Japan, South Korea, Germany and France, all experts in building and operating high speed rail systems. Each of these teams had explicitly agreed to design, build, operate and maintain Florida’s high speed rail system for a firm, fixed price, with no cost overruns and no subsidies.
It was my hope and expectation that the governor would have allowed these teams to submit proposals before pulling the plug on this true public/private partnership that had little risk to the state and tremendous return to Floridians. It would have been more prudent for the governor to have waited for the private industry to make their offers in writing to assess the viability of this transformational transportation project. Florida is a donor state for transportation dollars receiving only 62 cents on every transit dollar and 87 cents on every highway dollar we send to Washington, and this $2.4 billion in federal transportation dollars would have brought Florida in line with other states. It appears that Secretary LaHood will direct these billions lost by Florida to California where true high speed rail has the next best opportunity to succeed. — State Senator Paula Dockery
Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields
Mayor Gow Fields reacted with a statement of disappointment. He said, “I really believe we would have a better economic case after we went through the request for proposal and got to hear from the private sector that would be operating the system.” He added, “Making a decision before then is a true disappointment but high speed rail is not dead forever.”
Fields said that HSR does have a chance in Florida because we need to grow smartly and provide for the people and businesses in this state. “Someone else in the country is going to show how high speed rail will work in their community and I guess then we will strongly consider it in Florida,” Fields said. — LakelandGov.net