Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nelson: High-speed rail money coming to Florida

A map of what a high-speed rail network in Florida might look like one day.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is the latest politico to confirm that part of the $8 billion in stimulus money set aside for high-speed rail projects will be coming to the Sunshine State.

Here's part of a news release from Nelson's office:
Americans can expect to hear a lot about jobs tonight when President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech. That’s because the economy rather than health care likely will dominate the president's speech before a joint session of Congress. Following his speech the president and Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Tampa Thursday morning to make what the House is terming a “major economic announcement.”

In the Cigar City, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this morning, it’ll be announced that the Sunshine State has won in a competition among states for a portion of $8 billion in stimulus money the federal government is awarding as so-called Recovery Grants the Obama administration is offering to develop a national high-speed rail network.

The competition between states, like, California, Illinois and Florida, has been intense. But Nelson, Sen. George LeMieux, state Sen. Jeff Atwater and other state political leaders all pushed the Obama administration hard for full consideration of Florida’s bid for a $2.5 billion share of the $8 billion.

“This will be one of the largest boosts to the state’s economy since Disney, since the interstate highway system,” said Nelson, a chief backer of the bullet train that will connect Tampa, Orlando and Miami.”

Florida sought $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to build a high-speed line between Tampa and Orlando. It’s unclear whether the state will get all it’s asking for. The state's application indicates the project would create up to 23,000 construction and engineering jobs over four years, with additional permanent jobs supporting passenger service by 2014.

The $8 billion in Recovery Act awards is part of an overall $13 billion high-speed rail plan Obama announced last year. The other $5 billion would be funded through the annual budget process.
For more about high-speed rail in Florida, go here.

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