Florida Supreme Court rules with Gov Scott on rail, but could "Hail Mary" exist?

03/04/11 Seán Kinane
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Governor Scott said he is “gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision.” Scott said he “spoke with US DOT Secretary LaHood this morning and informed him that Florida … will not move forward with any federal high speed rail plan."

Senator Bill Nelson says he’s disappointed in the governor’s decision

"It's unfortunate that the Supreme Court has thrown out the Florida legislator's attempt to stay the hand of the governor of returning $2.4 billion of federal grant money to build our high speed rail system. It's unfortunate for the state because we could remake our transportation system that is now built on an interstate system that gets so clogged at rush hour and you can imagine what it's going to be like 20 and 30 years from now. And it's unfortunate for the 24,000 people that will not have these jobs in the next few years."

But this afternoon, Senator Nelson said a possible “Hail Mary” pass had been thrown. Nelson spoke with Ray LaHood who “has offered to review whether the grant process could be reopened and whether the money could then be awarded directly to the local governments that just formed a new regional rail coalition in Florida, including the cities of Tampa, Orlando, Lakeland and Miami.”

Nelson said LaHood pledged to “have his attorneys review whether the new regional rail authority in Central Florida could be allowed to compete against the likes of California and New York and other states clamoring for the money.” The two agreed to talk again early next week. Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields reacted to the Supreme Court's decision.

“Currently we have $4.3 billon of unfunded needs that exist on the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa as we sit here today, no way to pay for it either with federal dollars or with state dollars. I stand ready to hear what other solutions are. … If that decision was made for political reasons, he should just tell us that. As opposed to saying it's for reasons that the facts don't support.”

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor said, “Today, Gov. Scott turned his back on Floridians and sent our $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money, and the tens of thousands of jobs associated with it, to other states.”

Previous WMNF news coverage of high speed rail

More on the Supreme Court ruling

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