Much to the embarrassment of California, it appears that Florida will be taking first place in the race for Federal high-speed rail stimulus funding:
A high speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa could soon get the green light. Some local leaders believe President Barack Obama will announce $2.6 billion in federal funding for the project during a visit to Tampa on Thursday.
“We don’t believe President Obama and Vice President Biden would come down Thursday if it weren’t for an announcement,” said Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal.
California is often mentioned as the project most studied, and most shovel-ready. But the CHSRA has had numerous set-backs. In the Bay Area, CHSRA did not prevail in a major court battle regarding the route, which would needlessly bisect over 50 miles of upscale suburban neighborhoods. The agency is also battling San Francisco over placement of the northern terminus. Even proponents have skewered numbers in the latest business plan.
Florida began work on its project following a 2000 voter referendum. Five short years later, the EIS was released. And though it suffered a setback with a second voter referendum against the project in 2004, it has since gained broad bi-partisan support culminating in Gov Crist signing the Sunrail bill.
Unlike the California project, the route chosen for ‘Sunrail’ has not been deeply controversial. Sunrail business plan also shows more realistic cost and ridership estimates.