Published on February 17th, 2011 | by Christopher DeMorro
Florida Kills Orlando-Tampa HSR: So Give It to the Northeast
Republicans nationwide have pledged to cut back on government spending. In the cases of Ohio and Wisconsin, that meant killing mostly Federal funded high speed rail projects. Now Florida joins them in un-funding the future.
The Infrastruturist breaks down why this was a bullshit move motivated by politics rather than fiscal sensibility. Instead of taking the $2.4 billion and building a high speed rail line between a very congested corridor, Republican Governor Rick Scott wants to build more highways. Scott was afraid because his state would have been on the hook for all of $280 million and any cost overruns in both building and operating the line would be taken care of for the first 20 years. Umm, who exactly was getting screwed here? Florida taxpayers, or the rest of us? I’m gonna say the rest of us.
So thank you Rick Scott and the rest of the Republican governors who are marching in lockstep against all things high speed rail. I said from the beginning that the money was too far spread out among too many different projects. Sure, the amazing Obama-riffic high speed rail network is rapidly shrinking, but if politicians and the people they supposedly represent don’t want the trains, and won’t use them…pardon my French, but fuck ‘em.
Give the money to states and people who will and do use trains. In fact, that’s what Obama has already done with Wisconsin and Ohio’s share of the HSR funds, sending them out to California. The Florida rebuff brings the total rejected funds to $5 billion, which sounds like a lot, but California is still a long way away from breaking ground on the first portion of the project. And the vanguard line between Borden and Bakersfield won’t get a working train until other sections of track are built. That sucks.
So if by some off chance you are reading this, Mr. President, the Northeast Corridor could really use some help. Right now it is slow, prone to delays, and woefully out of date. When I get onto a train going into New York City I feel like I’m stepping back into the 70’s (the bad 70’s, Taxi Driver rather than Dazed and Confused). In other words, it doesn’t feel first world.
Besides the crappy, slow trains though the Northeast has a lot going for it in terms of right-of-way and already built lines. The Northeast already has a high speed train (the Acela) that should be able to go even faster with a little (actually a lot) of work. It’s the busiest train corridor in the country, with 12 million riders a year and a high population density, yet it has barely gotten any money in the grand scheme of things. People here know how to ride a train. Plus, you can pay back residents of at least a half-dozen states (MA, RI, CT, NY, PA, NJ) that helped vote you into office and can tell their friends “I told you so.” For the record, I didn’t vote in the last election, and I’m still looking for reasons to do so in the next. The Republicans have a point; the government is in debt, and it spends a lot of money rather frivolously. I don’t think high speed rail is frivolous, but Florida does, so here’s your chance to convince me you’ll make my America better.
I just got my tax bill the other day, and it’s a whooper. Nobody said being a writer was easy. I’m hoping a few of my many hard earned dollars will go towards something noble and worthwhile, like high speed rail, rather than a golden toilet seat or a few retirees who won’t even be around long enough to see it finished (too harsh?)
Source: The Infrastructurist
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.