Florida to expand passenger train system to include high-speed rail

In florida, government, rail, train, transportation on December 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Governor signs bill expanding passenger rail

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dec. 17, 2009 – Gov. Charlie Crist today signed House Bill 1B, historic legislation passed during the recent special session. The bill establishes a comprehensive framework for Florida’s current and future passenger rail system, which today includes SunRail, Tri-Rail and plans for high-speed rail.

“Future generations of Floridians will look on this day as a bold step toward modernizing how residents and visitors will travel in our state,” Crist said. “Individuals and businesses from North Florida to South Florida will benefit from the economic and job opportunities that will arise along each of the rail corridors. Together, we move the Sunshine State into a new era of collaboration and innovation.”

Crist traveled the state to highlight the job-creation and economic-development opportunities the legislation would generate in visits to Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale – three communities that will directly benefit from the passenger rail projects.

The primary components of House Bill 1B include the following:

• SunRail – The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is working with the federal government and Central Florida officials to develop and operate SunRail, a commuter rail transit project that will run along a 61-mile stretch of existing rail freight tracks in Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Osceola counties. The legislation authorizes FDOT to complete the purchase of the Central Florida Rail Corridor once the Federal Transit Administration has established a full-funding grant agreement.

• Tri-Rail – The legislation provides additional funding for Tri-Rail, which currently operates 50 trains daily from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade County. The operator of the passenger line, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), announced in April 2009 that it was in danger of significant service reductions without additional resources.

• Florida Statewide Rail Commission and Florida Rail Enterprise – The legislation creates the Florida Statewide Rail Commission to advise the FDOT and the Legislature on the development and operation of Florida’s passenger rail systems. In addition, it creates the Florida Rail Enterprise within FDOT to oversee all state-owned passenger rail systems. The legislation addresses liability risks associated with state-owned passenger rail corridors and requires FDOT to work with communities affected by increased freight rail traffic resulting from routing modifications.

For more information about Florida’s use of the federal recovery dollars made available through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to:

Reprinted by permission: © 2009 Florida Realtors®


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