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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Brandes: Governor's right on rail

3

March

While a number of top Tampa Bay area officials have backed the creation of high speed rail, it's interesting a few of the new ones are instead cheering Gov. Rick Scott's opposition to the train line from Tampa to Orlando, too.

State Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said Thursday he's skeptical of the ridership projections and worried about cost overruns. He would support a "blue chip" private company doing the project if it assumes all of the risk. 

"I think the governor should be applauded for what he’s doing and taking the stance he has," Brandes said, saying he's convinced taxpayers are going to be hit with overruns.

"I think the ridership numbers aren’t there. I think that numbers that we'reseeing to construct the project are probably wrong. And I think the costs that go over will be passed on to the taxpayers if not at the state level then at the federal level."

Meanwhile, Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche, who joined the board in November, objected recently when a letter on county letterhead went out supporting high speed rail. The letter, signed by MPO member and Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, should have been written without the county's name on it, Roche said.

"I don’t think it’s a good move. I think it’s counterproductive. We’re trying to save money, "Roch said this week of the lawsuit over high speed rail. "I don’t think I've seen any empirical data that supports it’s (rail) successful."

[Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 3:43pm]

    

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