Libertarian group warns that Tampa-Orlando high speed rail line could cost "billions" more than estimated

Later in their report they write:

If the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail line experiences cost escalation typical of international

high-speed rail projects, it will cost between $0.54 billion and $2.7 billion more than projected.

Based on averages, most likely the overrun would be about $1.2 billion, all of which would be the

responsibility of Florida taxpayers.

The report ultimately provides Rick Scott with two options: 1) cancel the project, or 2) Build the Project with Strict Financial Controls.

Even if you're the strongest advocate of the benefits of the high speed rail line,  the report makes for interesting reading.

As the state of Florida - and especially those who have skin in the game regarding the Orlando-Tampa high speed rail line, awaits Rick Scott's analysis of that link and whether he wants to give state support to it, the libertarian Reason foundation on Thursday released a report that says that the route- expected to cost $2.7 billion overall- could cost "billions more" than estimated.

It's important to note with the most recent federal stimulus grant, 90% of this line has already been paid for.  Time magazine recently reported that the private contractor that ultimately wins the opportunity to build the route will probably pay for the difference, since it would give them a boost in becoming the contractor for the far more potentially lucrative Orlando-Miami route.

However, the authors of the Reason report, Wendell Cox and Robert Poole, write that Florida taxpayers face two potentially significant financial risks going forward on the Tampa-Orlando line:

1. Capital Cost Escalation: If construction cost projections prove overly optimistic, costs

could increase substantially from the current estimates. The state of Florida would be

responsible for virtually all of any such increase. This report estimates that the cost to

Florida taxpayers could be $3 billion more than currently projected.

2. Operating Subsidy Liability: If ridership and revenue projections prove overly optimistic, it

could become necessary for the state to provide an annual operating subsidy for the

service. A state operating subsidy could also be necessitated by operating costs that are

greater than projected. This risk could easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars

per year.

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