Florida rejects high-speed rail funds
Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined three other Republican governors in rejecting Obama administration funds for rail projects, saying a planned high- speed line in his state could saddle taxpayers with $3 billion in added expenses.
The former health-care executive said at a news conference in Tallahassee that he informed U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood of his decision Wednesday. The state was awarded almost $2.4 billion in federal money for an 84-mile passenger line between Tampa and Orlando.
"This project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits," Scott said in a statement. "Historical data shows capital cost overruns are pervasive in nine out of 10 high-speed rail projects."
Scott joins John Kasich of Ohio and Wisconsin's Scott Walker in rejecting U.S. funds from President Obama's program to develop a national high-speed rail system. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, also a Republican, last year refused $3 billion of U.S. government money for a commuter-rail tunnel under the Hudson River, saying the state couldn't afford $5 billion in potential extra costs.
LaHood said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed" in Scott's move.
"We worked with the governor to make sure we eliminated all financial risk for the state, instead requiring private businesses competing for the project to assume cost overruns and operating expenses."
He also cited "overwhelming demand for high-speed rail in other states that are enthusiastic to receive Florida's funding."
Scott, 58, proposed a fiscal 2012 budget last week that cuts spending by $4.6 billion. He said in a letter to LaHood that he would rather spend the money intended for rail on highways and on dredging ports to accommodate larger cargo vessels.
Angela Greiling Keane contributed to this report.
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