BREAKING: Governor Rick Scott Approves SunRail
Friday, July 01, 2011 - 01:40 PM
(Orlando-WMFE) UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM JOHN MICA
Florida Governor Rick Scott has approved SunRail.
His transportation secretary, Ananth Prasad, made the announcement today in Tallahassee.
Scott's decision puts an end to more than six months of waiting for the communities and cities along the route of the 61-mile, $1.2 billion commuter rail line.
Rick Scott had raised concerns about the lack of a dedicated funding source for the rail project, and earlier this year killed a high-speed rail line which many observers believed to be less risky financially. But after meeting this week with local government officials, Prasad told the governor that partner communities understood the financial risks.
If SunRail fails to support itself financially, Florida officials will dip into state funds for local transportation projects -- a threat which Prasad emphasized during his public hearings this week.
Florida Congressman John Mica, a longtime champion of the project, said the Governor made the right decision.
"I think the governor did what a smart business person does," Mica said. "Look at the bottom line and the bottom line is jobs, it’s the economy, it’s a cost effective transportation system for the future."
Mica indicated he's also on board with Governor Scott's efforts to expand the capacity of the Port of Miami to handle new larger ships out of the Panama Canal.
Back in April, Mica hinted that if Scott did not approve SunRail, partial funding for Miami's dredging project could be held up in the US House Transportation Committee, which the Congressman chairs.
SunRail is anticipated to be running by early 2014.