Rail Supporters Holding Their Breath in Florida

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(Orlando, FL -- Mark Simpson, WMFE) The dream of improving rail transit in Florida isn’t dead… completely.  High speed rail desires dissipated after weeks of dancing back and forth between HSR supporters - including US Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  The two fell short of convincing chief opponent, Governor Rick Scott, that cost concerns over the $2.6 billion project would be resolved.

There is one other Florida rail project that is currently in a state of suspended animation — Central Florida’s Sunrail commuter train.  It's supposed to run on 61 miles of track between Deland and Poinciana.  It's been approved and is supposed to be up and running by 2013. Planning and contract work worth about $235 million for the project is on hold while Governor Scott reviews Sunrail.  Scott says he will not make a decision until July when the new fiscal year begins for Florida. Supporters of Sunrail are worried though, because the Governor followed a similar review process before rejecting federal High Speed Rail money in February.

This week, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs met with Governor Scott for a half an hour to discuss the Sunrail project, and she told the Orlando Sentinel that she thinks Scott is still undecided. The Sentinel also released an analysis that shows the price of Sunrail is going up by close to $5 million because of the Governor’s hold on the project.