Florida bullet train dead – againby Dara Kam | March 18th, 2011
Florida is out of the running (again) for $2.4 billion for a high-speed rail system linking Orlando, Tampa and Miami, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said this morning.
A coalition of state, local and federal officials’ plan to get the federal funds – again – after Gov. Rick Scott turned down the money last month has failed, Nelson said in a statement this morning.
The plan hinged on getting Amtrak to join in as an end-run around Scott. But Amtrak officials said no.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reopened bids for the grant money last week to give Florida a second shot at drawing down the stimulus funds.
But that would have required an existing rail authority – like Amtrak – to participate. With Amtrak out of the picture, the coalition doesn’t have enough time to come up with another proposal to meet LaHood’s April 4 deadline.
Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman said in a letter to Nelson that the federally funded train system would help out in the future, but not now. He said that Florida and Amtrak could work together to try to get some of the $8 billion included in President Obama’s budget proposal (which Congress hasn’t yet approved).