Florida high-speed rail advocates fight to keep plan alive

Herald/Times Tallahassee BureauFebruary 19, 2011 

Advocates for high-speed rail in Florida were hustling to keep it alive late Friday, cobbling plans to accept the federal money Gov. Rick Scott rejected this week.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, floated a proposal to dramatically shrink the project to an Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World link, cutting Tampa and Lakeland out of the mix, for now.

Mica, who chairs the House transportation committee, said an initial 21-mile starter train, with a stop at the Orange County Convention Center, shows the best ridership potential and could even turn a profit. Some portion of the $2.4 billion in federal grant money would flow to Orange and Osceola counties and the city of Orlando. The three governments would forge a compact to solicit bids and oversee construction of the project and other partner governments could be added later, he said.

The shorter distance likely would take much of the high speed out of high-speed rail in Florida. The trains have to travel several miles to reach speeds of 160 mph or more and slow down well in advance of stops.

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