Obama to announce Florida will get half a loaf of the funding they desire for high-speed rail

There will be $5 billion in rail money that has already been budgeting that Florida could get a piece of later on.

As the Associated Press reports, there are some who question how big a stimulus it will be for Florida, or the other states that will get the money:

"Even experts who favor high-speed rail question whether the awards Obama will announce Thursday can turn into the job generators the administration is hoping for. Because the U.S. has never had the kind of bullet trains found in Europe and Asia, there are no U.S. engineering companies or manufacturers with experience in high-speed rail. Anthony Perl, who heads the National Research Council's panel on intercity passenger rails, said that means much of the technology will have to be purchased abroad.

During the special session that federal officials like Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and lawmakers like Bill Nelson and John Mica said was critical for being eligible for funding, Governor Crist said the project could bring as many as 14,000 jobs to the state.

The Tampa Tribune this morning reports that the rail project could bring as as many as 23,000 jobs to the state. As we wrote yesterday, with Florida's unemployment rate at 11.8%, why on earth would Governor Charlie Crist not be at today's event? (Okay, we know why he hesitated, but whether you support rail or not, this many construction jobs in a struggling state is a major event).

President Obama is expected to announce the grant to thunderous applause at the Bob Martinez Sports Complex on the UT campus.  There will then be a town hall meeting, and that could get interesting.  Anybody who was willing to wait hours yesterday in Tampa could get some of the few tickets available.  That's a bit different than how it worked when George W. Bush used to come to town (which was not infrequent).

Readers might recall an incident back in June of 2001 at Legends (now Steinbrenner) Field in Tampa, where protestors were told they could only congregate in a particular out of site place outside the stadium grounds.  If memory serves, a similar incident happened on the USF Tampa campus.

But even if the President only calls on die-hard supporters to take questions from today, with the country still mired in one of its worst recessions in decades (which will probably continue for another year), there may not be too many softballs thrown his way at UT.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden come to Tampa this morning for a town hall meeting at the University of Tampa.   As we all learned yesterday (and the President reiterated last night) Florida will be receive of the 13 grants being announced today for high-speed rail across the country.

Officials here in Florida had been hoping to get exactly $2.56 billion to build a Tampa-Orlando line.

Instead, we are learning that the sunshine state will get approximately half that amount, or $1.25 billion.

Although local rail officials like ConnectUs's Ed Turanchik are probably a bit bummed they're not getting their whole loaf, the fact of the matter is is that only $8 billion of these funds are being distributed at one time, and there were over 40 different agencies that had applied for the money.

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