Lakeland Ledger – January 12, 2011
A powerful statewide business lobby has come out in favor of keeping Florida’s high-speed rail project on track.
Barney Bishop III, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida, announced today that the business advocacy group is forming the Florida High Speed Rail Coalition to keep the current high-speed rail project from being slowed down by bickering over cost.
Already, the federal government has approved $2.4 billion for the construction of the first phase from Tampa to Orlando, but new Gov. Rick Scott has opposed any taxpayer money being used.
Bishop said in a press release today that Florida’s match doesn’t have to come from its taxpayers.
“It is important to remember that while a match of $280 million is required in order to draw down the billions in federal dollars … these dollars do not necessarily have to be state dollars and can come from the private sector,” Bishop said in an e-mailed statement.
Bishop said the first phase of the high-speed rail would bring 5,000 construction jobs to the state, plus give international attention to Florida for having the first high-speed rail in the United States. He urged the state government not to slow the project down.
“Our members and coalition partners want to see the bidding process for the project continue. Let’s give the private sector a chance to show us the level of risk and investment it is willing to commit in order to launch high-speed rail in Florida.”