The Republican landslide in the U.S. House of Representatives is bringing in a new transportation committee chair who is questioning federal funding for high-speed rail projects, including the Tampa-Orlando line that is already underway.
Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, told the Associated Press he wanted to take another look at the $10 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail around the nation spearheaded by the Obama Administration.
That includes revisiting the nation’s first planned high-speed rail line, along I-4 between Tampa and Orlando, where work has already begun. Mica questioned whether the project should be scaled back just to lines running from the Orlando airport to theme parks and tourist destinations in Florida, according to the AP.
If Tampa were to be cut out of the high-speed rail plans, it would be a huge blow to local and state transportation officials who have been touting the project in the region for months, even holding public meetings to give the public a look at what to expect.
It didn’t help that voters in Hillsborough County shot down a sales tax referendum, much of which would have paid for light rail to connect to the high-speed rail in Tampa. Prior to the election, Mica had posted a television news story from Orlando on his website with a headline calling the Hillsborough vote “crucial.”
In that story, Mica was quoted as saying Orlando commuters would not take the train to Tampa if there was no transportation to get them around once they arrived.