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Orlando International Airport to high-speed-rail backers: count us in

(The following appeared on the Orlando Sentinel website on August 19, 2009.)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando International Airport jumped on-board the state’s latest high-speed railroad proposal Wednesday.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has backed previous Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail proposals over the past decade or more, and has even spent an estimated $15 million roughing in space at the airport for the railroad and its Orlando terminal.

But the rail plans and local commitments have lain mostly dormant since the state’s previous effort ground to a halt in 2004, so Florida transportation officials solicited a fresh pledge, and the GOAA board unanimously offered it.

Still, GOAA chairman Jeffry Fuqua, who's seen several rail proposals come and go since he first joined the board in 1986, sounded skeptical. Fuqua said rail connections would be good for the airport, which is why GOAA supports them. He noted the aviation agency may have spent more money promoting rail than any other local agency, "but there's still no rail, which is a disappointment."

Left for a future board decision: whether the rail station should be built adjacent to the airport’s current air terminal, or next to a next generation “south” air terminal, which, like the train, also has been in on-again, off-again planning for more than a decade.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

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