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High Speed Rail

January 28th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida has flirted with his speed rail for almost thirty years. Each time the dream of lightening fast ground travel has collided with the reality of cost, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the difference this time is money from the federal government.

In 1983, then-governor Bob Graham went to Japan to ride a 200 mile-an-hour train levitated by magnets.

It was like, Id say, riding in a very fast jet airplane, Graham said. Almost frictionless.

At the time, the governor even handed out tickets and the first press pass to a young reporter.

By 1989 the state was accepting high-speed rail proposals that went nowhere. Then in 1996, Fox Overland Express was given the contract. More cost studies followed. Then, during his first week in office, Jeb Bush killed the deal.

The financial structure of this deal was not viable, Bush said.

Voters objected, narrowly approving a privately funded constitutional amendment in November 2000.

But four years later, Bush led the rail repeal effort. At the time the state was being hammered by four hurricanes. Voters were worried about their homes, not trains, and voted 2 to 1 to repeal high speed rail.

Governor Charlie Crist says this time will be different.

[I am] as confident as ever, Crist said. You know, you get 1.25 billion dollars. If that wont build a train, I dont know what will.

One difference is having federal money to build the train. But finding the money to keep it running has always been the obstacle no group has been able to overcome.

Posted in Business, Charlie Crist, Economy, State Budget, State News, Transportation | No Comments »

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