Will High-Speed Rail Change Florida Politics?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Among the projects picked for federal stimulus spending, Florida's Orlando-Tampa high-speed rail route was a curious place to put $1.25 billion.  After all, it's Florida, and the 90-mile route runs through counties President Obama fought over tight margins of victory and defeat.  So are the voters of Polk County, smack in between Orlando and Tampa, swayed by a stop on the federally-funded transit future?  Takeaway transportation reporter Collin Campbell went to find out.

Guests:

Collin Campbell

Comments [3]

Garry G from Brooklyn, NY

I think it's important to see HSR as a long term development strategy for regional economies- and not a band aid commuter/transportation solution.

Regions (not isolated cities) are the expected competitive organization units of economies in the global age. It is not Houston vs City X - but Houston-Austin-Dallas-San Antonio vs Region X.

And while it seems hard to imagine HSR rail today b/c of lack of local options when you arrive-- the future will likely bring new forms of mobility based on small urban vehicles that are 'accessed' not 'owned'. Imagine ZipCar but point to point. This 'on demand' model of mobility could augment train systems.

There are many positives to high speed rail - as a way to support fast, energy efficient and safe transportation between urban cores.

I think there is more here than meets the eye. Imagine trying to sell the highway vision in the 1950s when the notion of distant suburbs in farm lands seemed ridiculous.

This is about rethinking economic upside of urban density - and connecting cities into regions.

Lots more to explore...
Garry G

Apr. 20 2010 09:39 AM
Joe from Asheville, NC

That may be a valid point but keep in mind I-4 essentially starts downtown. I think the biggest use of this train, other than tourists, will probably be daily commuters. People that live in either Tampa, Orlando, or maybe Lakeland that work elsewhere. They will undoubtedly have a commuter pass which make it a competitive option.

Mar. 18 2010 08:00 AM
Orlando 1943 from Orlando

There will be no political advantage to either party or any politician over HSR or SunRail. I question the viability of the Orlando - Tampa connection since the Tampa station will be downtown Tampa instead of the airport. "Planners" do not see an extension to the airport until 2027. So, people from surrounding communities will have to drive to congested downtown Tampa to catch a train to Orlando. Depending on where they live, they could drive to Orlando faster than screwing around trying to get to the train in Tampa. My opinion: Waste of money!!

Mar. 16 2010 12:41 PM

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