TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It looks as though the off-again, on-again high speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando is off again.
This morning Gov. Rick Scott insisted he has not changed his adamant opposition to the project despite his meeting with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson over the weekend.
The two men ran into each other at the Daytona 500 on Sunday and talked about the project.
As a result of that conversation, Nelson's spokesman said Scott would be open to the project if it eliminated any financial risk to the state. That gave backers of high speed rail new hope that the project could still happen.
But today Gov. Scott stood firmly against the idea of accepting $2.4 billion in federal cash for the high speed rail project.
"I am absolutely not changing anything I believe in with regard to high speed rail," he insisted. "The high speed rail is a project that we cannot afford as taxpayers. It's a project that is rampant with, I'm not willing to have our taxpayers take the risk of cost overruns for operating costs that we know won't be covered by the fares, and then if it ever gets shut down we have to give the money back to the federal government. So it's a project that I cannot imagine why we would ever pursue that."
Asked if he thought there was a way to relieve state taxpayers of any burden, he said no.
"I'm not convinced that they can make sure that the taxpayers are not on the hook."
Last week, Gov. Scott announced his decision to reject the federal funds for Florida's high speed rail.
That prompted supporters of the project to try to come up with an alternative plan that would still allow Florida to collect the cash and proceed with construction.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has given the state until Friday to respond or else the $2.4 billion will go to other states.
First Coast News