TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist submitted Florida's high-speed rail proposal for a Tampa-Orlando-Miami route to the federal government Friday — the deadline for applications.
Approval by the end of this year would result in a contract to build and implement the $2.5 billion Tampa-Orlando leg and start planning for the $8 billion extension to Miami, Crist wrote in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Earlier in the week, Walt Disney World put its weight behind the bid. Disney officials said they would provide up to 50 acres of free land for a station and support a stop at the Orange County Convention Center.
The Tampa-Orlando segment could be up and running by 2014 and the Orlando-Miami portion by 2017 if additional dollars are found.
The federal government planned to spend $8 billion in stimulus money on high-speed rail projects nationally, but the competition is expected to be fierce. Florida's proposal failed to rank among the nation's top 50 two-city routes in a recent think-tank study based on multiple factors, including number of potential passengers, optimal distances and potential for connections to local transit systems.