High-speed rail supporters say they have a plan they will soon present to Governor Scott

The mayor said City Attorney Chip Fletcher was working hard with many other parties in putting the interlocal agreement together.  The federal government has given Florida until Friday to prepare an alternative response after Scott's rejection of the high-speed rail funds last week.

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields said his city is encouraged by the plans, and said the Lakeland City Commission voted to support the plan. He said the deal would be similar to an international airport, where the feds make substantial investment in the project, but the private sector takes on all of the financial and operational risks after that.

Jacksonville area Congresswoman Corrine Brown sounded like she gets the message from high-speed rail critics, saying, "We have to make sure we don't jeopardize U.S. taxpayers' dollars."

This morning a consortium of local and federal legislators announced that they are working on a proposal to give to Governor Rick Scott within the next day or two. They're looking into a partnership of local governments that would assume responsibility for the high-speed rail project between Tampa to Orlando.

"This project will satisfy Governor Scott's main concerns by eliminating any risk whatsoever for Florida taxpayers," Congresswoman Kathy Castor said on a conference call this morning.  "The proposal will keep the plan intact for the full $2.4 billion," she added.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said that all of the financial risks of this new deal would be passed on to the private sector.  The new structure would put all financial risks through "a non-recourse entity" established by the local governments along the I-4 corridor.  She said any two local governments can create an interlocal agreement, and those entities have been used in the past in Florida to fund and construct various types of infrastructure throughout Florida.

The plan would effectively be privatized, but Iorio cautioned that the state Department of Transportation "must be a partner in this through their technical assistance." Which means they must get cooperation from the state — meaning the governor's consent is still required.

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