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CSX Deal

February 4th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Charlie Crist joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer at the state capitol today to champion a four county, 61 mile long commuter rail project that stretches from Deland to Lakeland.

The plan is to purchase the rail from the CSX line. Dyer told reporters the plan is the economic engine that will ignite the local economy almost immediately.

“We can’t continue to lay asphalt. We have to become more transit oriented. We have to grow smarter, this promotes smart growth, Dyer said. This is the most environmentally friendly manner to move people around, to get people out of cars. Rail freight is the best way to move freight in the state of Florida. This promotes the state’s freight program as well.”

Critics say the plan will increase freight traffic ten fold in the Lakeland area. Rich Templin from the AFL-CIO says that at 10 point 5 million dollars per mile, or 615 million dollars, the track is the single most expensive rail project in the nations history.

“The reason for that uber-high price tag is that, wrapped up in this, isn’t just purchasing track to run a commuter rail as supporters would have us believe, there’s also hundreds of millions of dollars in there of free give-away money to the CSX corporation to improve their own private freight operations, Templin said. So essentially this is a corporate bailout, with a Florida twist, in that this corporation doesn’t need a bailout, they posted 29 billion dollars in profits in the last year alone.”

The Federal government is picking up half of the 615 million dollar cost, the state another 25 percent, with local governments paying the rest.

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