Rail Opportunity? Wake Up Florida

November 10, 2010 30 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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

Email sent to Metro Jacksonville

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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