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LaHood says other states in line for Fla. rail money

(The following appeared on The Journal of Commerce website on February 16, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Plenty of other states will want the passenger rail money that Florida's governor rejected, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, while the canceled high-speed rail project could have eased congestion on Florida's highways.

Other states will want the money, LaHood said, to reap gains "such as manufacturing and construction jobs, as well as private development along its corridors."

The project, the first leg of what was eventually to be a high-speed passenger rail corridor extending to Miami, was expected to be the first in the nation to use super fast passenger trains operating in a dedicated corridor. California is also pursuing a high-speed plan, but other states' rail plans are speeding up or adding new Amtrak-style service that shares track lanes with freight railroads.

In killing the Florida plan Feb. 16, Scott cited the risk that state taxpayers could be left with $3 billion in potential cost overruns. LaHood disputed that. "We worked with the governor to make sure we eliminated all financial risk for the state," the secretary said, "instead requiring private businesses competing for the project to assume cost overruns and operating expenses."

The full story is on the Journal of Commerce website.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

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