Wednesday, February 16, 2011

High-speed Rail: Florida Vacation Edition

Greetings from Sanibel Island! Right now it is 66°F and sunny, a nice change from the Chicago weather that I have been weathering (Editors Note: Word Play!) for the past few months.

Do you ever sit and watch television while traveling and enjoy how different the programming is when compared to your home's channels?
  • Why do the cheesy car dealership commercials seem even cheesier here?
  • Why do the Anchormen/women on the local news seem weird?
  • Where the hell is ESPN?
These are the questions I ask myself when I sleep in and wait until it is time to go to the beach. However, today I had to ask myself an even more serious question about the news...

Why the hell did Florida torpedo the high-speed rail that was planned between Tampa and Orlando?

The governor of Florida stated:
He also said if the project failed, the state would have to return the money to the federal government. Scott said he informed U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood of his decision earlier Wednesday.
I don't know enough about the finer workings of project funding, but here is the thing though: It wouldn't fail.

Orlando is essentially the hottest tourism spots in the nation, and the high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa is just a piece of a larger rail system. High-speed rail WILL be implemented in other states which will lead to revenue streams that Florida will lag behind and ultimately have to play catchup.

In a state which is hurting for new sources of revenue due to the housing collapse and the generally undiversified economy, you would think that attracting more tourism and new markets would be high on the list of things to do.

And here is my final point, which is also more of a finishing blow. If federal funding is such a bad thing and the governor expects private industry to take the initiative on these projects, then where do you think Florida would be without the Federal-Aid Highway Act and I-75?

There is no way that private industry would have constructed any highway system, and this state would be completely different without the artery that is I-75.

I'm getting kind of preachy, but here are the points to take away from all this:
  • High-speed rail needs to be the future of America's transportation infrastructure.
  • This won't happen without federal assistance.
  • Florida's rejection won't stop other states from pursuing these systems.
  • This will lead to Florida falling further behind other states.
I'm off to lay on the beach!

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