Sunday, November 30, 2008

With Bush Out, is High-Speed In In Florida?

In 2000, Florida voters approved a ballot referendum calling for construction of a high-speed rail line linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami. Four years later, at the urging of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, voters did a 180 and passed another measure derailing the plan. Now with Jeb Bush out of the Florida state house and his brother, President George W. Bush, getting ready to leave the White House, the Sunshine State might take a second look at high-speed rail.

In recent weeks U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown , D-Jacksonville, and John Mica, R-Winter Park, have renewed calls for the rail line. They see it as tying in with President-elect Obama's economic stimulus plans, which emphasize transportation and environment-friendly projects.

While at this stage the notion of a Florida high-speed rail network is little more than an idea getting a fresh look, it is important to note the changes that have taken place since 2004.
  • Growing recognition that we must cut our dependency on carbon-based fuels, in part to avoid the environmental consequences of global warming.
  • A new progressive administration taking office in Washington.
  • Infrastructure investment is one of the key economic recovery strategies being adopted by the new administration.
  • California has said yes to high-speed rail, so Florida and other states don't want to be left behind.

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