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Friday, June 22, 2018

Rick Scott wants to build a privately funded high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 5:41 PM

  • Photo via Rick Scott/Facebook
Days after being roasted for rejecting $2.4 billion in federal funding for a high-speed rail line in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that a private company will fund a high-speed rail connection from Orlando to Tampa.

Scott's office says the Florida Department of Transportation and Central Florida Expressway Authority received an "unsolicited proposal" to lease property owned by the state and CFX to build a high-speed train along Interstate 4.

Scott says taxpayer dollars would not be used to fund the project – unlike the rail connection between Orlando and Tampa proposed by the Obama administration that Scott rejected.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Orlando, Tampa and our entire state," Scott says in a statement. "Instead of placing taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, our goal is for the private sector to invest in this project. Through private investment, we ensure that this major project has zero financial risk to Florida taxpayers."

Because of the unsolicited proposal, FDOT is opening up the project for competitive bids from private companies.

"The department is committed to creating a robust transportation system that meets Florida’s current and future needs," FDOT Secretary Mike Dew says in a statement. "Privately-funded passenger rail will provide residents and visitors a transportation choice for one of the busiest corridors in the state."

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says having more passenger rail options will "create more jobs and make it easier to experience our great city," according to a news release from Scott's office.

In a June 19 editorial, the Hartford Courant gave thanks to Florida for its new commuter rail service, the Hartford Line.

"This much-anticipated train service almost didn't happen," the Courant's editorial board wrote. "It's thanks to Florida's curious distaste for mass transit. Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down federal transit funds in 2011, which this state then scooped up. It's rare that Connecticut says this, but thank you, Florida."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who's competing with Scott in the Senate race, also got a little snarky about those $2.4 billion in rejected funds.

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