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gjoseph

Tampa Rail

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Here's an Excerpt from www.tamparail.org and baynews9.com

The prospects of a privately funded high speed rail project have always been discussed. Following the repeal of the Florida high speed rail Constitutional mandate last year, this seemed little more than a kiss-off sentiment.

However, Jim Sebesta has continued to jimmy the wires using a slightly different approach than Doc Dockery, finessing private corporations to build and run just such a system. Bay News 9 is reporting today that Sebesta is 70 percent convinced that he'll have a rail deal on the table that Florida can live with within 18 months.

If he can pull this one off, Tampa Rail will make him the first Tampa Rail Saint. The plans, impact studies, and even the Florida High Speed Rail Authority, all still have a good shelf life and are in place. Plus. just about now, people might be looking to do something different than roads. We'll be keeping an eye on this one.

And here's the full story

The oft-discussed bullet train may be on the fast track to construction again.

Voters repealed an amendment last November that would have funded a rail system in the state. But Bay News 9 has learned the high-speed rail could be coming to the state.

State Senator Jim Sebesta, a long-time supporter of the bullet train, said it could be built without a cent from taxpayers.

Traffic jams are nothing new to Floridians, and at a population of about 17 million and growing every day, some state lawmakers say we need to find a better way to get around.

Sebesta said when voters repealed the high-speed rail amendment they didn't say they didn't want a high-speed rail in Florida; they said it was too expensive for Florida taxpayers.

So Sebesta's taken a detour. He's been negotiating with four international companies interested in building a high-speed rail system in the state entirely with private investment dollars.

"If you had asked me a year ago, I'd have said we had a one in 10Bullet Train

Click here for stories about the history of trying to fund the high-speed rail.

Click here for a Viewer Center about the issue.

chance of doing it; now it's more seven in 10," Sebesta said.

Sebesta said the project would be run much like privately-owned railroads. The first leg would start in the Tampa area, then travel east to Orlando and down the southeast coast to Miami. Eventually it would stretch up to Jacksonville and over to Tallahassee.

Sebesta said his long-range goal would be to connect Florida to Atlanta.

"I'm not talking about some clunky 100-125 mile per hour train," he said. "I'm talking about a full-fledged bullet train, that would go 350 miles per hour."

Sebesta said he's hopeful the project is on the fast track because it doesn't involve much governmental red tape.

"They don't need the government's help, per se, because they're paying for it," he said.

Travelers, however, would have to pay to ride it.

Voters have repealed the bullet train in the past because they would have had to fund it.

Sebesta said he can't name the four companies he's talking with because negotiations are ongoing. He said there's a good chance a deal could be struck within 18 months.

It's estimated the high-speed rail system will cost about $20 billion. According to a study done by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), there are some numbers which could positively affect the public.

Building the first segment from Tampa to Orlando would create about 7,000 new jobs, raise property values by $950 million and create about $8.5 million in sales among Florida businesses.

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