Moments ago I spoke with u.s. transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to inform him of my decision. I appreciate the secretary’s efforts to work with us and I look forward to working with him in the future.
- First – capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.
- Second – ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur. (from $300 million – $575 million over 10 years) – Note: The state subsidizes Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year while passenger revenues covers only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.
- Finally – if the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.
The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits.
The project has been a hot topic of debate since work began along the I-4 corridor. A coalition of politicians and business lobby groups recently formed in an effort to press Scott to accept the funds. The head of the powerful Associated Industries of Florida called the rail line a part of “America’s infrastructure bonanza” at a roundtable discussion earlier this month.