Florida High Speed Rail Expected To Chug Forward

One of Gov. Rick Scott's first acts as Florida's new governor was to require a review of a number of state-funded construction and transportation projects, including the proposed high-speed rail route between Tampa to Orlando that has been awarded $2.4 million from the U.S. government. This has led to a lot of speculation about what this means for the project.

Gary Sasso, a Tampa attorney who chairs the Tampa Bay Partnership's Transportation Task Force, says the fact that the governor asked for feasibility studies on this particular project is a good thing.

"I think we're still on track," says Sasso. "The governor wants to see recent feasibility studies, which will confirm prior studies that show this is a viable project."

When asked about speculation that private companies may be required to invest to fund the remaining costs needed to complete the rail system, Sasso says that may be a good thing.

"A lot of massive projects are funded jointly through public and private sectors," he says. "It helps defray the costs, creates jobs and the public gets transportation. We're hoping the Department of Transportation (DOT) can soon send out a request for qualifications, which would encourage a number of companies from the private sector to put money on the table, which would tell us how much they can bring."

Even with private funding added, Sasso says, the high-speed rail system will remain public due to the great deal of federal money involved: "The DOT can set rules down to ensure that."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Gary Sasso, Tampa Bay Partnership

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