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Florida High Speed Rail

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Florida Bullet Train Would Have Been Profitable, Cheap Natural Gas Boosts US Energy Independence, Historic Wright Bros. Shop May Be Demolishe

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Top stories on TN: the Senate will move its highway bill Thursday. An audit of the Port Authority called it a "challenged and dysfunctional organization" and found cost overruns at the World Trade Center. Houston is a leading purchaser of green energy. Gas prices are creeping higher -- especially in D.C. And: listen to what happens when a subway platform becomes a musical instrument.

 

(courtesy of NASA)

The high-speed rail project that Florida's governor killed last February would have made an annual surplus of $31 million to $45 million within a decade of operation, according to a state report. (TBO)

The boom in shale oil and natural gas is moving the U.S. closer to energy independence -- but cheap natural gas means less incentive to invest in cleaner energy. (Marketplace)

New York City will unveil a pedestrian safety plan for Delancey Street, nearly a month after a 12-year-old was killed while crossing the busy intersection at the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge. (DNA Info)

Toronto's city council is preparing to kill the mayor's transit plan. (Toronto Sun)

Four consortiums of engineering and construction companies have been found qualified to bid on the $5 billion project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge. (Times Herald-Record)

An Ohio building constructed around the first Wright brothers' bicycle shop has been declared a public nuisance and may eventually be demolished. (AP via ABC)

Meanwhile: Newt Gingrich, campaigning in Ohio, says the Wright brothers rose from bicycle mechanics to world renowned inventors – without the assistance of government funding. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

U.S. DOT head Ray LaHood is blogging enthusiastically about Denver's light rail expansion. (FastLane)

Some DC Metro bus signs are telling passengers to "alight" instead of "exit." (Washington Post)

Just what is Detroit? A city, an industry, or an idea? (Forbes)

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Transportation Nation

California Applies for High Speed Rail Funds

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Here's the CA release:

CALIFORNIA SUBMITS APPLICATION FOR BILLIONS

IN RAIL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

State, Governor send strong signal that California is ready to put federal dollars to work

SACRAMENTO – The State of California submitted its application today for the federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program for billions in rail construction projects, including a request for funding to complete construction of the “backbone” of the planned statewide high-speed rail system.

The federal government recently announced that states can apply for Florida’s returned $2.43 billion in high-speed and intercity passenger rail funding. This funding includes $1.63 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and $800 million in Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Transportation funding. Applications were due today.

“California’s application seeks funding for projects that will be the building blocks for a statewide network of rail lines linking high-speed and intercity rail lines to regional rail lines,” wrote California Governor Edmund G. Brown in a letter introducing the state’s application. “The projects will provide the foundation for a transportation system that will improve mobility, help the environment, reduce energy dependency, and put Californians to work.”

The California High-Speed Rail Authority submitted its application for the entirety of the re-allocated funds, including a primary ask for funds to extend initial construction of its statewide system into downtown Merced and to downtown Bakersfield, including both stations and the complicated area of track known as the “Wye”, requesting $1.44 billion and offering a 20 percent state match from the Proposition 1A (2008) funding. This application seeks final design and construction funds for civil infrastructure, including track work, and two stations.

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TN Moving Stories: FL HSR Arguments Today, and Ford Talks Connected Cars

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The DOT is open to tolling existing highways. (Dallas Morning News)

Oral arguments in the Florida high-speed rail lawsuit begin today at 3pm. You can read the legal arguments here; WFSU TV will be carrying the proceedings live. Lawsuit coverage here, here and here.

New York City has abandoned a plan for a pedestrian plaza in the middle of 34th Street. (AP via WSJ)

Allegiant Air has asked the DOT if it can change ticket prices based on the cost of fuel -- right up until the time of departure. (Business Week)

The head of Ford Motor Co. talks about the future of gridlock and connected cars at a TED conference. (CNN)

Wisconsin Republicans are looking at yanking the parking spaces of their Democratic counterparts to compel them to return to the capitol. (Bloomberg)

Bill Bradley and Tom Ridge call for more transpo spending in Politico. "...with an almost 20 percent cut in the transportation budget, the House Continuing Resolution goes a bridge too far. We need to invest more in infrastructure. Less is the wrong way to go."

Bombadier Aerospace wants to make fully recyclable airplanes. (Smart Planet)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Long Island Bus may lose half its lines. The House voted to extend the Surface Transportation Act. Florida Governor Rick Scott tells TN he's still not interested in the high-speed rail funds--and that he has no meetings scheduled with the DOT before Friday's deadline. Meanwhile, the US experienced its third largest year in traffic.

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Scott Wavering on High Speed Rail

Friday, February 25, 2011

(Orlando, Florida -- Mark Simpson, WMFE) It looks like there may still be life in Florida's High Speed Rail Project. We've posted the announcements and public statements all day long, from the DOT, Gov. Rick Scott, and others. At the end of a day that saw several meetings, public pronouncements and back door negotiations, here's where the Tampa-Orlando bullet train stands.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has agreed to give Florida one more week to come up with a way to build the proposed rail line before the DOT reallocates the $2.4 billion in federal funds allocated to the project. Governor Rick Scott says he is willing to listen.

Today was supposed to be the deadline imposed by the US Department of Transportation for Florida to come with a plan to work around Governor Rick Scott's refusal of federal money for high Speed Rail.

Governor Scott met with LaHood in Washington D.C. and asked for more information on the proposed Florida High Speed Rail line.

Scott refused the money last week citing concerns about the state's financial liability if the project did not generate enough money to cover its estimated $2.6 billion dollar cost.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and US DOT lawyers have been working on a legal workaround since the Governor's refusal and may yet arrive at a solution.

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More Criticism Rains down on Scott from FL Officials for Killing High Speed Rail

Friday, February 25, 2011

This just in from Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown:

PRESS RELEASE
THE HONORABLE CORRINE BROWN

THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 25th, 2011

Congresswoman Brown:  Rick Scott Puts Florida Jobs on High Speed Train to California

(Washington, DC) Congresswoman Brown delivered the following statement:

"Today is a very sad day for the state of Florida.  As the Ranking Member of the House Railroad subcommittee, I am more than disappointed in the Florida's governor's decision to return $2.4 billion in funding for a high speed rail system.  Just yesterday, Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica and I attended a previously scheduled listening tour to obtain input from Americans nationwide on the upcoming six year Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill.  The hearing, which was jointly held with Senator Barbara Boxer and attended by several Members of the California congressional delegation, was widely attended and attracted a great deal of interest in the Los Angeles area.  Sadly, I must admit that many of the California delegation members thanked Congressman Mica and me profusely for the high speed rail money Florida Governor Scott is about to hand over to their state.  It was extremely painful for me to hear these types of remarks, as well as to physically be, ironically, in California at the same time our governor is working hard to give away over $2 billion in high speed rail funding destined for our state.

Unfortunately, Florida's governor is much more interested in politics than in creating jobs or improving the transportation system for Florida residents.  And his decision will not do anything to bring down Florida's 12% unemployment rate. 

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Mica's Plan to Save Florida's High-Speed Rail Cuts Out Tampa -- And Possibly The Governor

Saturday, February 19, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  With a week to save Florida's high-speed rail program, Florida congressman (and House Transportation Committee chair) John Mica is spending his President's Day weekend floating a plan that would shrink the project down to a 21 mile line linking the Orlando airport to Disney World.

Mica says this smaller program has the best chance of attracting riders and making a profit.  It would also transfer "the project from the state to another entity."

Read Mica's proposal here or after the jump.

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California: Florida's HSR Loss Could Be Our Gain

Thursday, February 17, 2011

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) If U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is unable to put together a deal to save Florida's high speed rail, California wants the $2.4. billion.  And California is likely to get a bunch if it if the Florida deal falls through: it has the most advanced program, after Florida, in the nation.

Governor Jerry Brown and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have already issued statements similar to those released after Wisconsin and Ohio returned their funds. "It is now clear that California will lead the way in demonstrating the viability of high speed rail to the rest of the country," wrote the senators; "The $2 billion that Florida rejected are more than welcome here," said Brown.

At least one congressman has also gotten in on the action; John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) wrote "we’re prepared to show the rest of the country what a modern transportation network looks like and will gladly invest every penny the federal government is willing to provide."

The politicians' statements get at the curious paradox of high-speed rail in this country: the more states reject high-speed rail because of perceived political and financial risk, the better the chance that the systems that do get funded will have the resources to avoid those problems. "The money reallocated to us from Ohio and Wisconsin enabled us to double the length of our initial construction," said California High Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall. "We know how to use this money." Wall said the Authority is currently in discussions with the Federal Railroad Administration about whether and how California would obtain the funds.

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Transportation Nation

U.S. Senator Nelson's Office: Florida Planning Organization Wants to Take Over High Speed Rail

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Florida Senator Bill Nelson's office:

"Officials now studying ways to help Florida, despite governor’s rejection of federal money for high-speed rail.  Today:

"Ø  A metropolitan planning organization in Tampa and a rail authority in South Florida have volunteered to step forward in place of the state to accept oversight of the bullet-train project and the $2.4 billion from Uncle Sam.  Lawyers are researching how to do it.

"Ø  At 1:30 p.m., U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will meet on the plan in Washington with the federal transportation secretary and members of Florida’s congressional delegation."

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BREAKING: LaHood to Meet with Florida Delegation to Salvage Florida High Speed Rail

Thursday, February 17, 2011

LaHood rides high speed rail in Japan last year with Central Japan Railway Chair Yoshiaki Kasai

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  A DOT official tells us "Secretary Ray LaHood has agreed to meet with the Florida delegation to discuss options for salvaging the [Florida high speed rail] project without the state's involvement."  The meeting comes a day after Florida Governor Rick Scott said he was returning $2.4 billion dollars to the federal government for the project. That move was met with widespread criticism, including from the Republican Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, John Mica.

More coverage below and here.

The meeting between LaHood and the Florida congressional delegation  is set for 1:15  today.  We'll update as we get details.

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