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DOT will send Florida rail money to other states

(The following appeared on the Journal of Commerce website on March 4, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After Florida's Supreme Court upheld Gov. Rick Scott's power to terminate a planned high-speed rail project, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signaled that other states will be able to tap the $2.4 billion of grants Scott was rejecting.

That means large amounts of the money could go into freight railroad-owned corridors to expand intercity passenger rail service, to pay for track and signal upgrades that could also help make freight operations faster or more efficient. Until now, about half the grant money in the program was targeted at regular Amtrak service in freight corridors, while only Florida and California planned true high-speed trains.

Scott opposed building a Tampa-Orlando bullet train service, saying it would create potential financial risks to state taxpayers despite proposals to shield the state from costs. Two state senators appealed to the high court, arguing that the legislature had approved the plan and Scott was overstepping his authority to kill it.

The full story appears at www.joc.com.

Monday, March 7, 2011

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