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Old February 20th, 2009, 03:29 AM   #1
brandon1292
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Proposed High Speed Rail Line (DEAD)

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/feb...ed-rail-tampa/
By RICH SHOPES | The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 19, 2009

TAMPA - High-speed rail looked dead four years ago, but backers of the proposal say it's being resuscitated now thanks to the recently approved federal stimulus package.

"This is unbelievable," said Lee Chira, chairman of the Florida High Speed Rail Authority.

The group hadn't met since voters in November 2004 opposed granting state taxes to the project – the first leg of which would have connected Orlando and Tampa for $2 billion.

Now the authority is hopeful it could get some of the $8 billion recently set aside for high-speed rail projects nationwide.

"We're 90 percent sure we'll get it because the president said he is looking for communities and authorities that have shovel-ready projects," Chira said. "We're farther along than anybody."

The authority sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration on Jan. 27 expressing interest in the funds and has scheduled a meeting Feb. 26 in Orlando to discuss what to do next.

By mid-September, the authority must have its formal application submitted to the FTA.

The project's first leg from Orlando International Airport to Tampa was expected to cost $2 billion and include stops at downtown Orlando, Disney World and Lakeland.

The federal government issued environmental permits that would need to be updated, and several years ago granted permission to access the Interstate 4 median for the project, Chira said.

Orlando would become a hub for later extensions to Miami and Jacksonvillle.

"We could be under construction in 12 to 18 months," Chira said _ if the project receives funding.
After that it could be three to four years before trains are running. They would travel up to 120 mph.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 05:06 AM   #2
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OK, my jaw dropped because I never looked at FHSR as a shovel-to-dirt ready project. I kept looking ultra local (TECO streetcar).

Unless they needed to make major changes, they could also go back to the route that doesn't include Disney world, I would think? Disney was vital for it's own support of the project when it was a state-funded amendment/project. FHSR, as a FEDERAL project, doesn't need the mouse.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 05:47 AM   #3
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I'm totally shocked at this too. If this project is able to go through, then we WON'T be needing a 20-lane I-4! That's AMAZING!
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Old February 20th, 2009, 06:14 AM   #4
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Damn I'm shocked!! I never thought of the project as "shovel ready" either, imagine one of the most poorly planned and sprawled metro having the best high speed rail system in the country.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 06:51 AM   #5
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Interesting posts from another forum in a stimulus thread.

I posted that one good thing is we might be getting HSR, and so a forumer posted this.

Quote:
Agreed. One of the things I am disappointed in is that nobody has said anything about amtrak running high speed rail from dc to Atlanta. The plans have been drawn up and they have the right of way. All they need is the money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by I275westcoastflorida
Really? Wow imagine if they built the Tampa-Orlando high speed rail and Atlanta-DC HSR. Eventually when the extension from Orlando to Jacksonville was built it could connect to Atlanta! So with that we'd have revival in mass transit in which you'd be able to go from Tampa or Miami if the extension is built to New York using only mass transit. That is amazing! That would be like going from London to Warsaw on one high speed rail line which Europe which has one of the best rail systems in the world does not have anything like that.

I think this is what stimulus money should be going towards, this stuff will actually make money back. Imagine for example every rail station in a major city will need a nice big station and park-n-ride garage, etc. Usually developments around mass transit flourish for example when Dallas extended its light rail system. So around every station in urban cities you might see some nice urban developments. For my metro this could finally be the spark that would finally get these fools here to fund mass transit. I have to look up exactly how long it would take to get to Tampa-Orlando by HSR, but it is pretty quick.
Quote:
Originally Posted by I275westcoastflorida
Wow so the rail project would begin in St. Petersburg, FL, now that is cool!



So from downtown St.Pete to Orlando going 120mph is like 45 minutes. I-4 has a very wide median and one of the reasons was for the HSR.

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Old February 20th, 2009, 04:29 PM   #6
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I think they would need to keep the Disney stops. I would have used it last week when I was in town. We had to drive to Disney, it would have been much easier to jump on a train in the morning to head to Disney and then make the return trip in the evening. I've lost all hope for a direct Atlanta to Tampa passenger rail line of any type.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 05:59 PM   #7
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I don't think a downtown Orlando stop was ever contemplated originally-- it's out of the way- unless the train follows I-4 up to Jax, that is...

For Orlando, the OCCC, OIA, and probably a direct WDW station would be needed. But think about it... why not WDW, for God's sake, that's the No.1 tourist destination in the state let alone the country and perhaps the world.

Nevertheless, supportive rail connectors would be built as well.

And back to Dockery and the CRT in CFLA... I mentioned on the other thread the widening and re-grading of the entire I-4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando that they did in the Late '90's. Part of the reason they did it was to level the easement to have rail in the median-- at the time, 2012 Olympics was a viable bid Tampa (and Orlando) were making. Now, the easement could be used for HSR if that's what they decide to do.

So, Dockery's argument for connecting Orlando and Tampa by rail fails yet again since this easement exists, and since Amtrak runs between the two cities.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 07:05 PM   #8
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Dockery is a moron by the way it sounds. I hope we get through on this rail thing, as many of our govts still don't know how to think.

BTW: I've made a new post and a corresponding poll about the HSR at my blog: http://tampatransitutopia.blogspot.com
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Old February 20th, 2009, 08:15 PM   #9
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Dockery is the only reason FHSR is a concept that ever existed in any way, shape or form.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 09:30 PM   #10
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I know her husband was a big proponent of HSR, and lost $$$ when Jeb killed the amendment. But using revenge against Jeb, (who set up the original deal with CSX), is setting the state backwards another 20 years transit-wise and is not productive use of senate time.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #11
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That I can agree with. But I'm not calling anyone an idiot over this.

It's a Florida politics issue in general where we don't work to make something the best -- but fight it tooth and nail because we don't like it. Brian Blair took that type of tack with the TECO streetcar and you see it day to day with any number of issues locally as well as state wide.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 04:41 PM   #12
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Next meeting: (from the Florida High Speed Rail Authority website)


The Florida High Speed Rail Authority announces a public meeting to which all persons are invited.

DATE AND TIME:Thursday, February 26, 2009, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


PLACE:Executive Conference Room, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Orlando International Airport, One Airport Blvd., Orlando, Florida

Subject:The meeting will focus on the review of recent federal legislation and activities relating to High Speed Rail and will develop a plan of action for the Authority to participate in newly created federal programs.

A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting: Mr. Lee Chira, Chairman, Florida High Speed Rail Authority, 800 North Highland Avenue Orlando, Florida 32803, (407)297-1600, E-mail: lchira@lcadevelopment.com, or Fax: (407)297-0480. Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 7 days before the meeting by contacting: Mr. Lee Chira, Chairman, Florida High Speed Rail Authority, 800 North Highland Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32803, (407)297-1600, E-mail: lchira@lcadevelopment.com, or Fax: (407)297-0480. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).

For more information, contact Nazih Haddad at (850) 414-4500. Pursuant to provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in these meetings are asked to advise the Authority at least 48 hours before the meetings by contacting Alicia Wadrop at (850) 414-5244.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 04:42 PM   #13
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I really really really hope that this project moves forward. Not only is is a catalyst for state wide rail, but it would be a catalyst for Tampa Light Rail, IMO. If this gets in place it would help LRT in Tampa as people need a way to get around the city once they are here, and this would help push for LR in Tampa.

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Old February 23rd, 2009, 07:59 PM   #14
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agreed
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 10:39 PM   #15
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not really interested in a train to OIA - rather go downtown. Let local rail go to OIA - lest you wish to become a colony.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 11:08 PM   #16
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Strategically more people will go to OIA than DT Orlando so it makes sense to me. Orlando can build light rail to go to OIA. I really hope this goes through this would be an important step in Florida's transportation improvements, as said this could stem off many light rail projects.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 05:50 AM   #17
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I have to agree with Smiley. This high speed rail plan scares the bejesus out of me. Its not the technology, its the route, corridor, costs and station locations. An Amtrak statewide corridor service or Caltrain style (express and local service) commuter rail system in Central Florida (on existing tracks) would be more affordable and make more sense than spending $2 billion on a train that's not set up to serve Central Florida residents. This state is already gun shy when it comes to rail. If this thing turns into a +$2 billion boondoggle it will screw us for decades, as far as moving forward on other rail transit related projects. If anyone needs proof, just check out Jax's $184 million, 2.5 mile Skyway Express system.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 02:50 PM   #18
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I disagree. An Amtrak statewide corridor would be great, but only if it were on dedicated track, not sharing with CSX and co. That is a huge part of the problem with Amtrak nationwide. When freight runs the rails passenger service will always loose out. The only areas that Amtrak runs reasonably on time is where they have dedicated tracking. So, I would be OK with a regular service rather than HSR, but only on dedicated tracks, and if we are building tracks we may as well go for HSR.

But you are right, it is not set up for central Florida residents, unless they wanted to go to Tampa. It is set up for people to go from Tampa to OIA or Disney, and of course tourists going from Tampa to Disney or from Disney/OIA to Tampa. That is where SunRail comes in, that is the system that will benefit central Florida residents.

As for Skyway its main problem is that it was built when there was really no good reason to be in DT Jacksonville. That of course is changing and it seems that the Skyway will be a good DT circulator when other rail gets build eventually. It is always mentioned when people talk of commuter rail or LR for transit into DT. The cost per mile was high, but not horrible considering it is elevated.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 04:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tampasteve View Post
I disagree. An Amtrak statewide corridor would be great, but only if it were on dedicated track, not sharing with CSX and co. That is a huge part of the problem with Amtrak nationwide. When freight runs the rails passenger service will always loose out. The only areas that Amtrak runs reasonably on time is where they have dedicated tracking. So, I would be OK with a regular service rather than HSR, but only on dedicated tracks, and if we are building tracks we may as well go for HSR.
A statewide corridor would be on dedicated track. For it to run, additional track would have to laid within the CSX corridor. This is why they work and the typical Amtrak intercity trains don't.

Quote:
As for Skyway its main problem is that it was built when there was really no good reason to be in DT Jacksonville.
There was and still is a need for rail transit in urban Jacksonville, but the skyway was the wrong application and wrong route. For the same price, they could have built a ground level light rail line from DT to the airport. This was a huge debate in the late 1970s, but the city went with the skyway because it was "free money".

Quote:
That of course is changing and it seems that the Skyway will be a good DT circulator when other rail gets build eventually. It is always mentioned when people talk of commuter rail or LR for transit into DT. The cost per mile was high, but not horrible considering it is elevated.
The costs are high because the city paid for two monorail systems, a large double tracked river crossing and a state of the art high tect O&M facility that was constructed for a much larger system. Because the first phase did not connect major local destinations at the end points or stretch outside of downtown, ridership has been extremely low, which in turn has made additional rail expansion nearly impossible. My fear is high initial costs combined with poor route and station selection could combine to doom HSR as well.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakelander View Post
A statewide corridor would be on dedicated track. For it to run, additional track would have to laid within the CSX corridor. This is why they work and the typical Amtrak intercity trains don't.
If that is true then great, but I had not heard that the state Amtrak corridors would be dedicated. I have heard wishful thinking, but never a hard statement that they would be separate from freight. It is not always the case that they are separate, look at the North Carolina rail system, a state system that runs with freight. Even if HSR were scrapped it is reasonably likely that the intercity trains would follow the same route - if indeed they were new tracks. HSR is important for perception as much as speed. People do perceive HSR as faster, more glamorous, and more convenient than a typical intercity rail route.



Quote:
There was and still is a need for rail transit in urban Jacksonville, but the skyway was the wrong application and wrong route. For the same price, they could have built a ground level light rail line from DT to the airport. This was a huge debate in the late 1970s, but the city went with the skyway because it was "free money".
Valid point indeed; Tampa even had a People mover system like the original Skyway but our short line was scrapped. Hopefully the agency will get you a longer system.

Quote:
The costs are high because the city paid for two monorail systems, a large double tracked river crossing and a state of the art high tect O&M facility that was constructed for a much larger system. Because the first phase did not connect major local destinations at the end points or stretch outside of downtown, ridership has been extremely low, which in turn has made additional rail expansion nearly impossible. My fear is high initial costs combined with poor route and station selection could combine to doom HSR as well.
I agree that high costs could impact future expansion, but I believe that the route is good for what it is intended to be. Orlando has a plan (albeit not very far along) to connect DT to OIA by LR. The HSR route connects an international airport (OIA) with Tampa (and if Tampa gets the LR off the ground then our airport will be linked too) and OIA with Disney, which is the major reason people go to Orlando. So, it may not be the best route for residents in Orlando, but I believe it is a good route for its purpose. SunRail provides the access for residents of Orlando, and that paired with a line to OIA would be a very good system indeed.

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