State makes official bid for high-speed rail cash
October 3, 2009
With Walt Disney World officially joining Florida's quest to build a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, state officials on Friday applied for $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money to launch 150-mph trains by 2014.
Disney officials said in an interview with The Tampa Tribune more than a week ago that they support Florida's high-speed rail project, which eventually could extend to Miami.
On Monday, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton said in a letter to Florida Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Kopelousos that Disney would provide the state up to 50 acres of property free for a high-speed rail station.
Disney also would extend transportation to the rail station and help resolve land-use plan issues.
The Florida Department of Transportation's bid is backed by myriad business and bipartisan political entities whose local leader has been U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, for a project that would provide thousands of jobs beginning in 2011.
Local groups including the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Partnership and Central Florida Partnership gathered in Orlando on Friday on the deadline to compete for a portion of more than $13 billion in federal stimulus money and other funding.
"Today's event was an important showing of the commitment the business community statewide has for the success of Florida's high-speed rail efforts," said Stuart Rogel, chief executive and president of Tampa Bay Partnership, the region's economic development group.
President Obama is expected to decide in December which states get funding.
"We have worked at this so long, we are certain we have the best shovel-ready project to compete," said Ed Turanchik, founder of fastrailconnectus.com, one of the groups lobbying for the funding.
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