U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, released the following statement regarding Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to not accept alternative plans to move forward with the Orlando-to-Tampa passenger rail project and not permit transfer of the project to local government grantees:
“The governor has made his decision to not pursue the Florida passenger rail project. I understand his concerns with the overall project, which would incur certain risks.
“I have done all that I can to salvage the project to this point and present what I consider to be a viable alternative plan that places the risk with the private sector and protects the taxpayers.
“I feel confident the 21-mile segment from the Orlando Airport to the Convention Center and Disney World can be a feasible and profitable transportation link for Florida.
“While the governor’s action will terminate the project at this time, it is my intention to work to salvage millions of dollars already expended and years of study on the critically important link from the Orlando Airport to our tourist area.
“I intend to reassess the project and work with local partners to continue seeking a federal and local solution in building this infrastructure project.”
Last week [the third week of February], Mica proposed modifying the project to initially focus on the 21 miles of the route with the strongest ridership projections.
This alternate plan would craft an inter-local agreement and enable these partners to solicit private sector proposals to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain the project, with parties agreeing to proceed only if the project were found to be financially viable and if partners agreed on terms of ownership, development, and operation of the project.