Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obama will announce funding for high-speed rail in Tampa

WASHINGTON — President Obama, seeking to deliver on his State of the Union promise to spur job growth, will arrive in Tampa on Thursday and announce Florida has won more than $1 billion in funding for high-speed rail.

The state had applied for $2.5 billion in stimulus funding for a line that would run from Orlando to Tampa. But the White House said no state would get more than half its request right away. Instead, Obama will cast the award as a down payment.

In addition to $8 billion in overall rail funding to be awarded to several states, Obama has pledged an additional $5 billion through the annual budget process.

"It's a pretty good start," said Sen. Bill Nelson, who was pushing for the full funding along with Gov. Charlie Crist and other elected officials in Florida, and longtime rail advocates.

Despite the setback, advocates cast the announcement in breathless terms. "This will be one of the largest boosts to the state's economy since Disney, since the interstate highway system," Nelson said.

"It's going to be the foundation of a more modern Florida," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

Rail backers claim it will bring 23,000 jobs to Florida over four years and create 600 permanent jobs once the line is running, by early 2015. The plan is to eventually extend the rail to Miami.

Obama will allude to the high-speed rail initiative Thursday night in his State of the Union address, but the details will come out Thursday.

Thursday's visit, which will include a town hall meeting at the University of Tampa, will coincide with rail announcements by administration officials across the country.

Thirteen major corridors will receive awards to help develop new high-speed rail infrastructure or begin the transition to high-speed rail, according to the White House.

"In addition, smaller awards will also be made for improvements to portions of existing rail lines. Overall, 31 states will benefit from the awards, which will lay the groundwork for a nationwide high-speed rail system," the White House said.

Florida has a mixed history with rail. Voters in 2000 approved spending for a bullet train for the state. But they quashed it four years later in a repeal vote backed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus has come under increasing attack from critics who say it has not created the jobs it promised.

Many Florida politicians have embraced the rail concept, including Crist, who said he will meet Obama when Air Force One touches town in Tampa. Crist's rival in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Marco Rubio, said he supports rail in general but added to his ongoing criticism of the Obama administration.

"I think we should all be concerned about increased spending on anything at a time when the federal government is borrowing money to function."

Staff writers Amy Hollyfield and Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Obama will announce funding for high-speed rail in Tampa 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.