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Rail Opportunity? Wake Up Florida

A high speed rail project dies, potentially freeing up millions to be reallocated to other transportation projects. Will Jacksonville and Florida take advantage?

Published November 10, 2010 in Transit      30 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Email sent to Metro Jacksonville

Quote
Wake-up State of Florida. We need this money. Tie the FEC project and Georgia project (Alt to Jax via Macon) together and we will get the money. Remember Sect. of Transportation R. Lahood said that two state rail projects will get evaluated first. This is the successful approach the State of New York has implemented.
Confidential source within the local railroad industry

The State of Georgia is preparing to conduct a feasibility study that could result in linking Atlanta and Jacksonville with intercity rail.

Quote
DOT 173-10
Friday, September 17, 2010

News Digest

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $750,000 in grants for Georgia, and $250,000 in grants for Kansas, to further develop their high-speed rail programs. The Georgia grants, from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, come in three portions: $250,000 to develop an interstate rail network compact with neighboring states; $250,000 for an Atlanta to Birmingham, AL feasibility study; and, $250,000 for a Macon, GA to Jacksonville, FL, feasibility study.
http://www.fra.dot.gov/Pages/press-releases/221.shtml

At the same time, Florida has been working with Amtrak to secure funding for a Jacksonville to Miami passenger line.  

Quote
In 1968, passenger rail service on the FEC was unfortunately discontinued, and the rail line has only carried freight since that time. For the past twenty years, a variety of agencies have been actively pursuing the re-establishment of passenger service on the FEC, with the most recent proposal developed by the State of Florida in 2009. Discussions toward and support for the restoration of this historic service continue today.
http://www.tcrpc.org/special_projects/fec_amtrak/fec_amtrak_home.htm#links

As the email to Metro Jacksonville states, perhaps its time for Florida and Georgia to work together to secure funding for an Atlanta/Jacksonville/Miami intercity connection?  The quick recent death of two proposed high speed rail corridors in the Midwest could open the door to additional funding opportunities and the relocation of a rail manufacturer to greener pastures.



High Speed Rail Fallout


Railcar manufacturer Talgo, Inc. is considering leaving Wisconsin if the state abandons its high speed rail plans.

Wisconsin's decision to halt a high speed rail project potentially frees up millions for another State to take advantage.  In addition, the decision has one Milwaukee train manufacturer openly considering leaving the state, which now has new Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker waffling on his campaign promise to nix rail within his state.

Quote
Scott Walker asks train maker Talgo to remain open here

Madison — Governor-elect Scott Walker reached out to a Milwaukee train manufacturer Friday, seeking to keep its operations in the state long-term as he advocates for stopping a passenger rail project involving the company.

"Governor-elect Walker is reaching out to leadership at Talgo to encourage them to stay in Wisconsin," Walker spokeswoman Jill Bader said Friday.

A spokeswoman for Talgo, the U.S. unit of the Spanish firm Patentes Talgo, said that Walker told company officials that his decision to stop a proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee passenger rail line is "not final."

Walker, a Republican, campaigned on an unambiguous promise to end the passenger rail line, funded with $810 million in federal stimulus money, which he has called a boondoggle. Bader said Walker was not backing away from that promise.

This week, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, a supporter of the project, halted work on that line temporarily after Walker's election.

That has thrown some doubt over jobs at Talgo, which is building two trains for an existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago rail service and had plans to build two more for the proposed Milwaukee-to-Madison line. The company has a site at the former Tower Automotive property.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore said Friday during a briefing in her Milwaukee office that other states are clearly in line to take the funds if Wisconsin turns them down. A lack of public transportation is a significant cause of the high unemployment in the central city because residents there can't reach jobs in the suburbs, she said.

"Walker has a record of being anathema to public transportation," Moore said.

New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo made a pitch for the rail money that the governors-elect in Wisconsin and Ohio have pledged to reject. He sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking that the roughly $1.26 billion be redirected to pay for a rail project that would connect New York City, upstate New York, Toronto and Montreal.
Full article: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/106790123.html


A Message to Rick Scott and Jacksonville Leadership


Bringing Amtrak back downtown and the Amtrak/FEC Corridor project are examples of local transportation projects that could possibly benefit from Wisconsin's and Ohio's decisions to terminate their high speed rail plans.

We claim we want to create jobs and turn the economy around, well here is an opportunity to move in that direction.  Competing for federal dollars to fund infrastructure projects is a tough task and the early birds usually get the worms.  If we're smart, we should take a page out of New York's book and already be in contact with Talgo and the federal government about taking advantage of Wisconsin's and Ohio's failures.

Article by Ennis Davis







30 Comments

tufsu1

November 10, 2010, 07:22:14 AM
I think the Wisconsin project will live...the one that is apparently "definitely dead" is the 3C project connecting Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinatti.

Here's another potential revenue source:

The Gov. of New Jersey did a reversal again and has now killed the ARC tunnel (he says the decision is final)....that frees up $3 billion in Federal money....and oh yeah, they have to pay the Fed back $350 million they've already spent on planning, design, etc..

Garden guy

November 10, 2010, 07:43:50 AM
I wonder if any of you people out there in lala land know and remember that it is the conservative rightwing republicans who ended this for out city...thanks alot guys...you got what you want.

tufsu1

November 10, 2010, 08:09:56 AM
I wonder if any of you people out there in lala land know and remember that it is the conservative rightwing republicans who ended this for out city...thanks alot guys...you got what you want.

what exactly in Jax did they end?

JeffreyS

November 10, 2010, 08:29:09 AM
Well I guess the "fiscally conservative" Republicans are "saving" money the same old way ignore America, Americans and the silly old infrastructure.  Nothing investing in a new intercontinental stealth bomber can't sooth.

cephus

November 10, 2010, 10:08:58 AM
If you want to insult the majority of the Duval County electorate with comments like the ones above, it's going to be really difficult to build local support for rail.  You might want to work on common ground instead of writing off people whose support and assistance you're going to need if public transit of any kind is going to be accomplished.

tufsu1

November 10, 2010, 10:26:57 AM
Quote
Asked Tuesday what he is thinking currently about Florida's rail projects – and about two other Republican governors' recent decisions to turn away federal funds for such projects – Scott said, "I want to look at the final feasibility study and make sure that there's return for the taxpayers of this state. And so, I'll review it when we get to see the final numbers."

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/nov/10/iorio-high-speed-rail-complex-could-help-revitaliz/news-politics/

FayeforCure

November 10, 2010, 11:51:41 AM
Well I guess the "fiscally conservative" Republicans are "saving" money the same old way ignore America, Americans and the silly old infrastructure.  Nothing investing in a new intercontinental stealth bomber can't sooth.

Agreed Jeffrey S, apparently these fiscally conservative Republicans had no problem with Rick Scott running a company that ripped off the tax-payer as in Medicare.

Pleading "I didn't know" says volumes about his leadership ability.

Now he wants a return for tax-payers with HSR?

Maybe he should start by paying back most of his ill-gotten gains from his company ripping off Medicare rather than spending OUR $80 million in ill-gotten tax-payer monies in a so-called self-financed campaign.

jaxlore

November 10, 2010, 01:12:51 PM
You know I understand that a lot of people are not happy with the way these elections went, including myself, but instead of grinding the axe, speak out to your elected officials and let them know where the direction of the state and city should be going. Saying that they are losers and criminals probably wont get us anywhere.

BridgeTroll

November 10, 2010, 01:19:27 PM
No doubt.  The reality is... this election was one the dems EASILY could have won... had they, themselves... shown up to vote.  Democrat apathy is more to blame than anything else... ::)

Lunican

November 10, 2010, 01:36:13 PM
Florida should follow the California model and partner with Amtrak to create a statewide rail system with frequent service.




JeffreyS

November 10, 2010, 05:41:05 PM
No doubt.  The reality is... this election was one the dems EASILY could have won... had they, themselves... shown up to vote.  Democrat apathy is more to blame than anything else... ::)
You are so right.  I have to cop to this a bit.  Yes I voted but last election I made phone calls and personal efforts for my candidates. This timeother than on this site and in the booth didn't do anything.

JeffreyS

November 10, 2010, 05:56:35 PM
Well I guess the "fiscally conservative" Republicans are "saving" money the same old way ignore America, Americans and the silly old infrastructure.  Nothing investing in a new intercontinental stealth bomber can't sooth.
If you want to insult the majority of the Duval County electorate with comments like the ones above, it's going to be really difficult to build local support for rail.  You might want to work on common ground instead of writing off people whose support and assistance you're going to need if public transit of any kind is going to be accomplished.
Do you really think my comments are so harsh.  I am in favor of finding common ground but I will speak plainly. I believe the biggest hurdle to building local support for transit is the well established pattern of Republicans bashing transit. 

So  can we find somme common ground that it isn't just the fare box that justifies fixxed rail transit?

Jaxson

November 10, 2010, 06:14:22 PM
Jeffrey S. was actually being nice when he posted about American attitudes toward mass transit.  We talk a good game about solving our traffic woes, but we consistently build more roads and highways.  Where has our creativity gone?  Of course, there are exceptions in many cities that have seen the light, but our love affair with the automobile lingers on here in Gate-ville...er...Jacksonville.  LOL

Ocklawaha

November 10, 2010, 06:44:00 PM
Lunican is right, we need the California model FIRST, they have grown their way into HSR with HrSR. 16 trains daily between Los Angeles and San Diego... THINK Jacksonville-Tampa. But our misguided leaders have decided to skip learning to walk first, we're just going to run at it and fly... F L O P !

OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

November 10, 2010, 06:51:57 PM
Here's a few true FLORIDA CARS that have now been sold to ALASKA!







Oh damn!



Kind of makes you think doesn't it?

OCKLAWAHA

CS Foltz

November 10, 2010, 07:32:56 PM
Well the Republican Administration, here in Jacksonville, has a really good game plan..............raise property taxes, even though the value has dropped 40%, label the tax increase "Revenue Neutral" and run the City like a business! Current administrations translation of rail equals monorail............who needs two rails, unless you have a world class bus system like we do! Dem's are not much better, both parties are more concerned about staying in power and taking care of their own instead of doing the job they were elected to do!

spuwho

November 10, 2010, 07:57:11 PM
Lunican is right, we need the California model FIRST, they have grown their way into HSR with HrSR. 16 trains daily between Los Angeles and San Diego... THINK Jacksonville-Tampa. But our misguided leaders have decided to skip learning to walk first, we're just going to run at it and fly... F L O P !

OCKLAWAHA

Just for the sake of disclosure, Amtrak California does not get a free ride. It recently survived the state budget crisis with flying colors.

A contentious budget process ended with the passage of the 2010-11 California state budget more than 100 days late. Despite substantial reductions in many programs, including more than $900 million in last-minute line item vetoes by Governor Schwarzenegger, the $90 million allocation of fuel sales tax revenues to Amtrak California operations was unaffected, showing the resiliency of the program and demonstrating the effectiveness of existing provisions originally enacted by California voters in 1990 as part of Proposition 116, the citizens' rail bond initiative. Those provisions protect these transportation funds from being diverted to other purposes.

Proposition 22 on the November 2, 2010 ballot will further strengthen the protection of the transportation funds that are relied upon by the Caltrans Amtrak program and public transit operators. The best offense is a good defense, and with budget problems, the legislative budget writers are always looking for weakness. So far, Amtrak California has not only prevailed; it has thrived. Proposition 22 builds the protective firewall yet a bit higher, so that fuel tax revenues are safer from diversion in the future.


Source: Flyertalk.com Amtrak Forum

There is so much public and political support for passenger rail in the I-5 corridor that they are allocating MORE funding from motor fuel taxes for capex improvements. Ridership is up.

It is showing to be a good investment as long as motor fuel tax revenue keeps up.


JeffreyS

November 10, 2010, 09:16:03 PM
I am in D.C. for a few days of meetings and Amtrak has commercials on T.V. for frequent ryder programs and the Trains look great. I pass by MARC stations on the Metro. I wish all of North Florida had spent a week in D.C. just using the transit system.  If they had Jacksonville would be demanding it.

dougskiles

November 11, 2010, 05:59:40 AM
The temptation is always to blame the elected officials - but we are the ones who elect them.  When the voting public wakes up to the importance of public transportation and how it not only improves the business economy, but our quality of life, then we will have elected officials getting on the board with the cause.  Perhaps the more effective strategy will be to work on public opinion as opposed to bashing the politicians.  It is a lot like me complaining about how my own yard looks.

This forum is an excellent way for individuals to express their opinions to a broader audience.  And - we need to all find ways of reaching more people, beyond the forum.  I like to bring it up in conversations I have with people just to get them thinking about it.  I'm not trying to sell it to them, mainly just trying to get them to think of what life would be like with a great system.  Almost everyone I have talked to - when they really think about it - would like to see us have a great system.

Keep up the good work, Metro Jax.  You're doing an excellent job of selling the vision!

Trainman

November 11, 2010, 08:17:25 AM
Dougskiles is right on. Remember, the fastest way to get someone to ignore you is to call them an idiot. I read this forum almost daily but refrain from responding because someone has inevitably already posted what I'm thinking. This excellent forum is and should be a castalyst to promote mass transit. While some folks are angry and stinging from the recent elections, bashing the winners will accomplish nothing. I work for the railroad and I have had a life long affinity for trains. While I would love to see commuter rail in Jax, we all know it takes a LOT of money to build and operate with negative return on the investment. Operations with federal aid like Amtrak California help as states can hardly afford to go it alone. But there is the bigger picture with more pressing concerns than a 30 minute train ride from Green Cove Springs to Jax Terminal. A couple of examples of what our new governer is facing. My wife is an educator and says schools are really hurting with all the budget cuts. Teachers are PAYING OUT OF POCKET for the tools they need to educate our children. The coming fiscal year the Florida Highway Patrol is likeley to cut over 400 positions statewide. They're already spread so thin that some areas often have ONE trooper to cover an entire county! Personally I would love regional rail but good public education and safer highways are just a couple of the miriad of things that take a front seat to mass transit. Just food for thought.

Garden guy

November 11, 2010, 08:36:04 AM
I've been through europe on trains and it was awesome and the whole time i was wishing america had this...then i returned home...lol. The politics of this country will keep this great "invention of rail travel" that has been discovered out of our life. Republicans would rather give $700 billion to rich people...that alone tells you how messede up things are.But alas this country is so screwed up that they'd rather give billions and billions also to an industry that has us all addicted to gas and getting somewhere as fast as possible as cheap as possible in a car that is as georgious as possible. Our american addiction on oil. Get rid of that...the other things could fall into place.

thelakelander

November 11, 2010, 09:26:28 AM
Dougskiles is right on. Remember, the fastest way to get someone to ignore you is to call them an idiot. I read this forum almost daily but refrain from responding because someone has inevitably already posted what I'm thinking. This excellent forum is and should be a castalyst to promote mass transit. While some folks are angry and stinging from the recent elections, bashing the winners will accomplish nothing. I work for the railroad and I have had a life long affinity for trains. While I would love to see commuter rail in Jax, we all know it takes a LOT of money to build and operate with negative return on the investment. Operations with federal aid like Amtrak California help as states can hardly afford to go it alone. But there is the bigger picture with more pressing concerns than a 30 minute train ride from Green Cove Springs to Jax Terminal. A couple of examples of what our new governer is facing. My wife is an educator and says schools are really hurting with all the budget cuts. Teachers are PAYING OUT OF POCKET for the tools they need to educate our children. The coming fiscal year the Florida Highway Patrol is likeley to cut over 400 positions statewide. They're already spread so thin that some areas often have ONE trooper to cover an entire county! Personally I would love regional rail but good public education and safer highways are just a couple of the miriad of things that take a front seat to mass transit. Just food for thought.

All of these things are related.  We can't really address and improve one issue without tackling multiple issues at the same time.  Throwing money alone at public education isn't going to improve it.  Throwing money at public safety isn't going to solve those issues either, as long as we continue to sprawl ourselves (spreading our resources to thin) to death.  However, you can't combat sprawl and reenergize stagnant neighborhoods with failing schools without modifying land use or providing quality of life enhancements to attract revitalization and an influx of higher educated residents.  Both of these things are needed to transform the social environment around our educational facilities and improve the safety of these neighborhoods, which decreases the need for more major investment in public safety.

FayeforCure

November 11, 2010, 01:12:34 PM
Dougskiles is right on. Remember, the fastest way to get someone to ignore you is to call them an idiot. I read this forum almost daily but refrain from responding because someone has inevitably already posted what I'm thinking. This excellent forum is and should be a castalyst to promote mass transit. While some folks are angry and stinging from the recent elections, bashing the winners will accomplish nothing. I work for the railroad and I have had a life long affinity for trains. While I would love to see commuter rail in Jax, we all know it takes a LOT of money to build and operate with negative return on the investment. Operations with federal aid like Amtrak California help as states can hardly afford to go it alone. But there is the bigger picture with more pressing concerns than a 30 minute train ride from Green Cove Springs to Jax Terminal. A couple of examples of what our new governer is facing. My wife is an educator and says schools are really hurting with all the budget cuts. Teachers are PAYING OUT OF POCKET for the tools they need to educate our children. The coming fiscal year the Florida Highway Patrol is likeley to cut over 400 positions statewide. They're already spread so thin that some areas often have ONE trooper to cover an entire county! Personally I would love regional rail but good public education and safer highways are just a couple of the miriad of things that take a front seat to mass transit. Just food for thought.

All institutions of a civilized society are currently under attack in favor of corporatism. Here is another example of how more an more people are going to be hurting:

Quote
the co-chairs of President Obama's deficit commission want to cut Social Security benefits for everyone making more than $25,000 a year. And then lower corporate taxes to just 26%.

We all know there is one party that takes protecting people and liveability more serious than the other. Unfortunately people in FL keep electing folks that will hurt their sincere efforts at a liveable life.

Still the Republican governor just elected was elected with LESS THAN 50% OF THE VOTERS, just the second governor in the state's 165-year history to be elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Not much of a Republican mandate........FL is definitely going to be headed in a better direction soon, once people realize that Republicans hate public schools, and hate protecting our middle class!!

BridgeTroll

November 11, 2010, 02:13:52 PM
 :D ::) :D
Quote
We all know there is one party that takes protecting people and liveability more serious than the other. Unfortunately people in FL keep electing folks that will hurt their sincere efforts at a liveable life.

Still the Republican governor just elected was elected with LESS THAN 50% OF THE VOTERS, just the second governor in the state's 165-year history to be elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Not much of a Republican mandate........FL is definitely going to be headed in a better direction soon, once people realize that Republicans hate public schools, and hate protecting our middle class!!

Sure thing Faye... ::)  If dems had bothered to show up at the polls they would have beat Scott easily... Shame on you! ;)

FayeforCure

November 11, 2010, 02:43:48 PM
:D ::) :D
Quote
We all know there is one party that takes protecting people and liveability more serious than the other. Unfortunately people in FL keep electing folks that will hurt their sincere efforts at a liveable life.

Still the Republican governor just elected was elected with LESS THAN 50% OF THE VOTERS, just the second governor in the state's 165-year history to be elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Not much of a Republican mandate........FL is definitely going to be headed in a better direction soon, once people realize that Republicans hate public schools, and hate protecting our middle class!!

Sure thing Faye... ::)  If dems had bothered to show up at the polls they would have beat Scott easily... Shame on you! ;)

So true Bridge Troll!

As William Butler Yeats says

Quote
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity."


and here a quote:

Quote
Yeats’ vision of a modern world that has lost its center seems a rather prescient view. Market greed and the “passionate intensity” in which it was applied surely trumped the “lack of conviction” by those who should have controlled the risk: management, internal risk professionals, financial institution boards, the rating agencies, the myriad regulators.  Any tepid reservations were outshouted by the desire for higher leverage in the name of higher returns.

From our perch today as market spectators we can only hope that there is sufficient courage to be mustered to meet this unprecedented challenge.  Candidates for “rough beast” abound… credit default swap systemic failure, panic in the repo markets, a credit ice age. Can we survive what we have wrought?


tufsu1

November 12, 2010, 09:27:05 AM
Looks like Wisconsin and Ohio are getting pressure to keep their projects

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/11/09/lahood.transportation.stimulus/

mtraininjax

November 18, 2010, 07:55:38 AM
Looks like the tea party will throw cold water on your high speed rail plans here in Florida.

http://www.theledger.com/article/20101117/NEWS/101119865/1410?Title=Tea-Party-May-Stall-Rail-Projects

Amazing stat, there is not one rail project that brings in more than 30% of its costs. Staggering.

tufsu1

November 18, 2010, 08:00:28 AM
Amazing stat, there is not one rail project that brings in more than 30% of its costs. Staggering.

well there goes the Tea Party people and the lees-than-half-truths....Amtrak's Acela line actually makes a profit...and several public transit lines (like DC Metro) recoup 40% or more of operating costs.

but lets look at Florida's HSR route (just the Tampa - Orlando) part...it is expected the state would have to contribute around $300 million.....ridership is projected to be around 30,000 a day.....so, if we didn't build the rail and those people were instead in cars on I-4, we would have to widen it to 8 lanes....how much would that cost?

In the end, I think these DO NOTHING folks will be quite disappointed by the governing done by some of "their" newly elected officials.

thelakelander

November 18, 2010, 08:11:12 AM
Amazing stat, there is not one rail project that brings in more than 30% of its costs. Staggering.

Its all about how you play with statistics.  Sounds like they're only looking at fare box revenue.  Apply the same to roads and we wouldn't have anything to drive on outside of those producing toll revenue.

JeffreyS

November 18, 2010, 08:21:50 AM
Amazing stat, there is not one rail project that brings in more than 30% of its costs. Staggering.

well there goes the Tea Party people and the lees-than-half-truths....Amtrak's Acela line actually makes a profit...and several public transit lines (like DC Metro) recoup 40% or more of operating costs.

but lets look at Florida's HSR route (just the Tampa - Orlando) part...it is expected the state would have to contribute around $300 million.....ridership is projected to be around 30,000 a day.....so, if we didn't build the rail and those people were instead in cars on I-4, we would have to widen it to 8 lanes....how much would that cost?

In the end, I think these DO NOTHING folks will be quite disappointed by the governing done by some of "their" newly elected officials.
More likely in the end the playoffs or something will come along and as soon as the job situation is normalized they will stop paying attention to anything not sponsored by Budweiser. Similar to the part time democrats who rallied for change.
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