Scott Rebuffs Efforts to Revive Florida Rail


FLORIDA RAIL: Governor Rick Scott's decision to stop Florida high-speed rail in its tracks looks likely to stand, despite scrambling by politicians of all stripes to come up with an alternative. Scott rejected an idea to have local authorities take over the project, arguing the state could still be on the hook for cost overruns, the Miami Herald reports. Last weekend, federal officials gave a cold shoulder to a Florida congressman's idea to run the trains between Orlando's airport and Walt Disney World, according to the St. Petersburg Times . Proponents have until Friday to come up with an alternative, but so far no progress has been made, reports Transportation Nation . Meanwhile, some legislators now want Scott to kill a commuter rail project being built in the Orlando area too, the Times adds in a separate story.

STATE SPENDING: With new transportation money scarce, states are doing a poor job of spending the money they already have, concludes a new report by a Brookings Institution researcher. In the report, Robert Puentes argues that states currently neglect metropolitan areas, do not weigh costs, benefits and economic impact and do not consider transportation's effect on housing, land use or energy. Only 17 states, he says, require road money to go toward fixing existing roads before building new ones.

MARYLAND TOLL ROAD: A controversial toll road in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., known as the Intercounty Connector, opened to traffic Wednesday with 10,000 vehicles traveling the new road in its first morning, the Gazette reports. For now, the ride is free, but tolls go into effect March 6. "The full cost of the Intercounty Connector — the exchange of woodlands for asphalt; the effects on residents along its path; debt payments that could require raising tolls throughout the state — will be analyzed for years," the Washington Post adds. "The immediate question is how opening the first 7.2 miles will affect traffic."

IMMIGRANT LICENSES: A discussion in the New Mexico Senate over putting limits on teen drivers became a "bare-knuckles debate" over whether to allow illegal immigrants to drive, according to The (Farmington) Daily Times . Democrats who control the chamber fought off three attempts by Republicans to deny driver's licenses to unauthorized immigrants, which New Mexico has issued since 2003. Republican Governor Susana Martinez campaigned against such licenses last year, but Democrats now have blocked the change in both the House and Senate.

NO PAT-DOWN: An Alaska lawmaker opted to take a ferry from Seattle to Juneau rather than undergo a pre-flight pat-down screening, a move that earned her widespread support among her fellow House members, the Juneau Empire reports. Legislators banged on their desks to cheer speeches praising Representative Sharon Cissna for taking the long way back to Alaska's remote capital city. Cissna, a breast cancer survivor, was ordered to undergo the pat-down procedure after a body scan showed scar tissue from a mastectomy. "Facing the agent I began to remember what my husband and I'd decided after the previous intensive physical search," she said, according to The Associated Press . "That I never had to submit to that horror again." 


Related Stories

    • Stateline Story
    April 5, 2011
    image description

    TRANSPORTATION BEAT: Arkansas voters will get a chance to decide whether better roads are worth a tax increase ... Florida's decision to give back federal high-speed rail money has other states scrambling for the funds … Officials in the Northwest and Midwest explore public-private partnerships for new projects, and other transportation news. more

    • Stateline Story
    February 25, 2010
    image description

    The last time intercity passenger trains served Madison, Wisconsin's capital city, students at the University of Wisconsin campus there were protesting the Vietnam War. The trains stopped running when Amtrak took over passenger service around the country in 1971. But last month, the federal government announced it would give the state $810 million in stimulus money to return passenger trains to Wisconsin's second-biggest city for the first time in more than four decades.The $8 billion in federal stimulus money billed as "high-speed rail" funding that will pay for the Wisconsin improvements is going to 31 states to improve service on trains of all speeds. But as even the straightforward case of Wisconsin shows, the path for states to actually build high-speed rail promises to be long, costly and, in some cases, politically contentious.

    • Stateline Story
    January 28, 2010
    image description

    TODAY'S TAKE: A day after delivering his first State of the Union address, President Obama heads to Florida to showcase $8 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail projects in the Sunshine State and 30 others. more

    • Stateline Story
    December 5, 2013
    Governors Press Safety Debate After Bronx Derailment image description

    A deadly train crash in California quickly changed state and federal safety laws five years ago. Officials are revisiting some of those laws in the wake of this week’s derailment in New York. more

    • Stateline Story
    August 1, 2012
    image description

    Metro Atlanta voters soundly rejected a $7.2 billion plan that supporters said was needed to “untie” the region’s gridlocked transportation system and attract a wealth of young talent. Voters in most other Georgia districts followed suit. more