FDOT Proposing $118 Million For Amtrak/FEC Project

December 30, 2010 117 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Despite being rejected in the latest round of federal funding for high speed rail projects, FDOT has proposed $118 million in state money to make passenger rail between Jacksonville and Miami a reality.

Delaney recalled the state Department of Transportation in June applying to the Federal Railroad Administration for about $260 million out of a $32 billion stimulus package.

But the Amtrak-FEC Corridor project wasn't quite as "shovel-ready" as federal officials wanted. The state didn't have the required environmental study, leading the federal agency to reject it.

Four months later, despite a new environmental study in hand, Delaney said, the federal agency again rejected the project. The state didn't have the required 20 percent match.

But DOT spokesman Dick Kane said the agency is now proposing $118 million worth of construction, or a 45 percent match, in the state's 2013-14 budget year. It would come from the State Transportation Trust Fund, which gets its money from fuel taxes and user fees throughout the state. It's projected to contain $6.3 billion by 2013.

Delaney said the project next calls for the Legislature in the spring to approve the $118 million expenditure. It would cover the construction of eight new stations and improving the track to increase the speed capacity from 79 to 90 mph to make it a high-speed route.

"It's a possible match, and that's if the federal funding is available," Kane said.

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About the Amtrak/FEC Corridor Project

The Amtrak/FEC Corridor Project would return passenger rail to the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), connecting Jacksonville directly with St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Titusville, Cocoa, Melbourne, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Stuart, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Fast Facts

Estimated Capital Costs: $260 million

Project Length: 326 miles

Maximum Speed: 90 miles per hour

Estimated Jobs Created During 3-year Construction Period: 2,100

Estimated Amount of Jobs Created Through 2025: 6,300

Benefit to Jacksonville

30th Street Station is a major economic engine for Center City Philadelphia.

The decline of downtown Jacksonville eerily aligns with the death of the Jacksonville Terminal (Prime Osborn) as a significant passenger rail hub. The return of Amtrak (assuming Amtrak is relocated downtown) sets the terminal and downtown in a position to once again become a major statewide passenger rail hub. This opportunity has the power to become a downtown economic anchor and activity center that stimulates job creation, sustainability, walkability and infill transit oriented development in an area of the city where significant public investment in infrustructure has already been made.  

A return of passenger rail operations to the Prime Osborn could fuel the revitalization of a long deserted section of downtown Jacksonville.

Assuming federal funding is granted, "high speed" (90mph) rail could connect Jacksonville with Florida's east coast within the next five years.  Let's just hope that JTA can be convinced that returning Amtrak to downtown Jacksonville should be a high priority.

Update by Ennis Davis