06 July, 2008

Florida - JACKSONVILLE WARNED - Over Commuter Rail Fumbles



Photos: Rep. John Mica, R-Florida
CSX Trout River Bridge on Jacksonville Northside

FLORIDA WARNED OVER COMMUTER RAIL FAILURES

Mica Warns Florida Officials Over CSX DealPosted May 2, 2008 by Lindsay PetersonUpdated May 2, 2008 at 04:21 PM

U.S. Rep. John Mica, a long-time advocate of the deal to pay CSX more than half a billion dollars as part of a Central Florida commuter rail project, has sent Gov. Charlie Crist and state Senate leaders a letter warning of dire consequences to Florida federal transportation projects if deal doesn’t go through.

Earlier this afternoon, he called state Sen. Mike Fasano’s office with a message for Fasano’s aide. The aide noted:

“Congressman Mica called again. He asked me to send you the message that he is greatly concerned about the commuter rail issue. He said he is willing to close down all transportation projects down until this issue is dealt with. He mentioned the possibility of asking the governor for a special session if this issue is not dealt with.”

The deal is facing trouble in the final hours of the state legislative session, and its most prominent supporter, state Sen. Dan Webster, has declared it dead.
Mica also wrote a letter today on his office stationery to Gov. Charlie Crist, Senate President Ken Pruitt, Majority Leader Dan Webster and Minority Leader Steve Geller.

It read:
“Dear Gov. Crist and Members of the Florida Senate:
“As the Legislature concludes its business, it is absolutely imperative that the legislature grant final approval to proceed with the Central Florida Commuter Rail project. Failure to do so will have dire consequences affecting all transportation projects and federal transportation infrastructure revenues to the state, affecting all districts.

“Members of the Crist administration and the Legislature should know that in 2009, the Congress will be required to take up a new five-year transportation and infrastructure project authorization bill. Inaction by the Legislature on this project will significantly damage Florida’s credibility and standing on every future project that requires federal authorization. I have today consulted with Congresswoman Corinne Brown who chairs the Railroad Subcommittee, and who is my senior Democratic Transportation and Infrastructure Committee colleague in the House, and she joins me in expressing our concern at this critical juncture.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of improving this project prior to the conclusion of this session, or if necessary, a special session of the Legislature.

“Sincerely,
“John L. Mica”

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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