High speed rail workshop for local business owners

9:07 PM, Aug 7, 2010   |    comments
A computer rendering shows what a proposed high speed rail line would look like on the Interstate 4 corridor.
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Tallahassee, Florida - Governor Charlie Crist is applauding Florida's application to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) seeking $1.1 billion in funding that will allow Florida to deliver high speed rail express service in the Tampa-Orlando corridor with operating speeds of 168 mph by 2015.

In a letter to federal officials, the governor noted the state is ready to assist the FRA in aggressively implementing high speed rail. All major environmental clearances and a Record of Decision have been received.

"Florida is uniquely positioned to bring to life the 'Vision of High Speed Rail in America' by starting HSR Express service in 2015 in the heart of America's most popular family tourist destination and showcasing this technology and its benefits to tens of millions of Americans each year," said Governor Crist in his letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D) FL 11th District says, over the next month, a workshop will be held for small business owners so they can learn more about the jobs and contracts high speed rail will provide. Congresswoman Castor says, "Because there's a requirement that a number of these be local jobs, so high speed rail has to provide jobs not just for some contractors out of state but for folks who live and work in Tampa Bay."

There is no word on when the workshop will be held or where, but details are expected to be released soon.

The remaining $1.1 billion is all that is needed for the Tampa-Orlando service to make this $2.6 billion project a reality. The Florida Department of Transportation's Florida Rail Enterprise has about two-thirds of the capital funding for the project, including substantial right of way in hand, federal stimulus dollars and state funds needed to meet the 80/20 match for the application. In January, Florida received a $1.25 billion high speed rail grant from the federal government for the project.

The Rail Enterprise is also seeking $250 million in federal funding to extend Amtrak passenger rail service to Florida's east coast by introducing two daily round-trips on the Jacksonville-Miami corridor via the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) and South Florida Rail Corridor.

The funding would pay for eight passenger stations on the FEC corridor, construction of a connector between the FEC and South Florida Rail Corridor lines at West Palm Beach, other capacity improvements to facilitate 90 mph service and the purchase of locomotives and associated passenger cars. The project has received tremendous support from congressional and legislative leaders, local governments, private organizations and the public.

Tammie Fields, 10 News

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