More High-Speed Rail $ in the Federal Pipeline

U.S. Rep. John Mica
TAMPA (2010-3-8) -

One of the head members of the U.S. House Transportation committee says Florida should be in line for billions more for high-speed rail. But the project's momentum could hinge on local rail projects in Tampa.

So we only got $1.5 billion to start building a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Don't worry, says John Mica. the senior Republican on the House Transportation Committee. There's another $2.5 billion that needs to be allocated by October. And the Orlando-area representative says a long-term transportation bill should have $50 billion committted to high-speed rail projects across the country.

"I can't spend the whole $1.5 billion by October. That money's going to carry over," says Mica. "So there's more than enough money to get started. Why would I commit to more than I could spend? But I've got to have the decision on the whole thing."

Mica is referring to having a way to get around once people get off the bullet train. And that means the success of the project could hinge on Hillsborough County voters approving a referendum for a light rail system that would stop at the train's terminus.

"I came here to say, guys, we can't miss a minute," he says. "We've got to stay in the line. The success of Tampa Bay getting it's act together - getting fixed regional transportation systems to connect into high-speed rail and then to other regions - it's all critical."

Mica told Tampa Bay-area politicians and planners that a referendum planned in Hillsborough County for light rail needs to pass - eventually - for high-speed rail to be a success.

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