Senator John Kerry hopes that Florida’s decision to put the brakes on a high-speed rail project will be just the ticket for passenger rail in Massachusetts and other northeastern states.
The Massachusetts Democrat and nine other senators from northeastern states asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood late last week to steer $2.4 billion that Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected in mid-February to the heavily traveled northeast corridor instead.
“At a time when numerous states have rejected federal funding from the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program to date, we note that high-speed rail’s potential on the Northeast Corridor is proven,” they wrote.
Scott rejected the money on Feb. 16, calling the Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail line a “boondoggle” would cost more than expected and would stick Florida with an extra $3 billion bill. In addition, he felt that estimates of its use were inflated, and that the project overall was a waste of money.
The announcement received a mixed reaction. Rail advocates pounced on Scott, accusing him of making a short-sighted decision, state senators wrote to LaHood asking him to send the money anyway, and the White House called the decision “unfortunate.”
But if history proves to be an example, it could be a boon for Massachusetts and its neighbors along the high-use rail corridor, where the nation's only high-speed train, the Acela Express, operates. In December, after Wisconsin and Ohio rejected $1.2 billion, the Obama administration divvied it up between Massachusetts and 11 other states.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.