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Bullet train bidder withdraws protest

(The Associated Press distributed the following article on December 17.)

ORLANDO -- The losing bidder to construct Florida's proposed bullet train network has withdrawn its protest over how the contract was awarded to Fluor-Bombardier.

Global Rail Consortium, a South Korean-based partnership of nearly 30 firms, found the estimated price tag of $250,000 too daunting to see the protest through, director Katherine Beck said Tuesday.

"I would not have been worth it, not with the status of the project at this point," Beck said.

The protest was officially withdrawn Monday afternoon, Beck said. She was to address the Florida High Speed Rail Authority at its meeting in Orlando on Wednesday.

Global Rail had claimed FluorBombardier's winning bid was "fundamentally flawed, failing to meet the requirements set forth in the authority's request for proposals. The consortium also said the authority didn't respond to its protests that Fluor-Bombardier's bid was inadequate.

Fluor-Bombardier's bid to design, build, operate and maintain the rail system's first leg, linking Orlando and Tampa, came in at more than $2 billion.

The authority awarded the contract on Oct. 27.

Global Rail still wants a role in bringing bullet trains to Florida, as required by the voters' approval of a constitutional amendment in 2000.

But Gov. Jeb Bush opposes high speed rail, and funding still must be found for one of the largest public-works projects in state history.

"We looked at all those things and we just said, `We're smarter at this point to sit back, wait and let this process happen, and see if we can facilitate and help this project' " Beck said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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