Florida will receive $800 million more in federal funds to help construction of its first high speed rail line, scheduled to go from Tampa to Orlando.
That news comes via a press release from Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson's office, which reports that Nelson received the news via Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
This is fantastic news for Florida, said Senator Nelson. This will ensure the state remains full speed ahead with high-speed rail construction. As Ive said many times, high-speed rail will be a game changer for Floridas economy, along the likes of the Interstate system and Disney.
The additional $800 million comes on top of $1.25 billion President Obama announced in January the state would receive for the Tampa to Orlando stretch. According to the Senator's office, this means Florida only needs approximately $300 million more from the federal government in addition to the states share of funding to complete the $2.6 billion Tampa-to-Orlando route.
That's if the state follows through. We've reported on Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's conflicting messages on whether he supports funding the state's portion of constructing a high speed rail plan.
A Scott spokesman is quoted in a story in today's Sarasota Herald-Tribune on the subject:
"Rick Scott has no particular aversion to creating a high-speed rail system in Florida," Trey Stapleton said. "However, he does believe that before the state should commit to such a financial obligation, both the upfront capital and ongoing operating cost, that the investment must be justified by demonstrating a return on investment to the citizens whose tax money would be used to fund the system."