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Florida Governor rejects Federal funding for high speed rail

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Mudkip Orange

On the one hand, this guy is a complete effing idiot. I like how he suggests it be spent on projects with "higher return," like widening I-4 - which is the EXACT CORRIDOR THEY WERE GOING TO BUILD THE RAIL IN.

 

But you know, really what this means is more money for California. And California has the most kickass and comprehensive plan of 'em all, it's really the only one that's comparable to the LGV Sud-Est or the original Tokaido Shinkansen. The CA HSR authority may have its issues, but all these other teabagging states sure are lending it a hand...

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keitaro

does seem like there is something wrong with this guys.

 

for countries in large size and population this can be seen as anything but great for the country having a highspeed rail ... what is wrong with him.

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scott

Once again, I'm embarrassed but not surprised by the state I grew up in. Things have been going downhill politically for a long time--perfect opportunity for brainless tools to get elected.

 

But this isn't based in transportation policy-making. Just another good idea getting trashed in the interest of making political points.

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keitaro

seems to me arnie does a good job perhaps he should run for president hahaha.

 

mean while we don't have and bright ones in australia atm either. so we can't say much.

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bikkuri bahn

This was purely politically motivated out of spite for the current Obama administration and had nothing to do with fiscal responsibility.  The governor stated some concerns about funding and costs and asked potential private and/or international investors to respond to his concerns.  But he went on anyway to cancel the project before the investors could respond!  I think JR Central and the Japanese government even said they would cover any cost overrruns or operating deficits for something like 6-10 years (I can't give the specifics now).  Same probably for other potential investors/builders.  The Republican party has been taken over by a group of people who are frankly batshit insane- you can wave millions, nay billions of dollars in front of their faces, but they won't take it because it's "boondoggle" money from the Obongo admin (their veiled racist terminology).  The sooner the Republican party goes back to their pragmatic, pro business roots (Rockefeller/Eisenhower republicans like my Grandad), the better for this country- maybe Bloomberg has a chance after things really go to pot down the line.  But I think for things to really change, the shit has to really hit the fan, like $5+/gallon gas.  Of course, the Republican answer to this would be to start another trillion dollar-cost fu**ing land war in Asia.  America can't build passenger train lines, but blowing poor Asian peasants and sheepherders to smitherreens- can Do!!

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scott

I'd post more, but BB just covered everything I would have said.  :grin

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bikkuri bahn
seems to me arnie does a good job perhaps he should run for president hahaha.

 

Arnie wasn't particularly popular in California, but he was a rarity nowadays- a moderate Republican, and he sees the benefits of HSR.  The Republican Party could do worse than selecting him.

 

*his moderate stance is probably why he wasn't universally liked- the teabaggers/wingnuts/FOX news viewers saw him as a Hollywood elite with no conservative bonafides, and the Dems just saw him as a Repub action star.

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KenS

Sensible moderate politicians of either party are a rarity, much less ones that approve of trains, and I'd love to see Arnie run for President.

 

Unortunately, he's a naturalized citizen rather than native-born, and President is the one office that requires the holder to be native-born.

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disturbman

...

 

Unbelievable! And the project cost was almost totaly covered by the Federal funding and the private sector (like JR Central) would have made up for the rest. Florida could have get a "free" rail project but no, the Governor prefered to kill it. Maybe it's best like that, the project was not perfect and the money can now go to other projects like the CHSR.

 

But after, Christie killing the ACR, Ohio and Wisconsin refusing money to improve their rail system, this is getting insane. The worst is, the Acela as proven over and over again that even slow moving HSR can be profitable.

 

I'm starting to wonder if the CHSR is not the next on the kill list (eventhough the new Governor is totaly for it).

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KenS

Trains, and other large infrstructure projects, are always political.  Part of the problem here is that the current Democratic President is vocally pro-train, and trains are expensive and don't have a large existing constituency,  All of which makes train projects a "safe" topic to oppose.  And opposing it ties in with the Republican party platform of opposing "big government".

 

We saw a big swing into allocating funds (most never actually spent) to vaugely-define "high speed rail" projects after President Obama and the more-Democratic Congress was elected, and this is the backlash to that.  And as much as I'm a fan of HSR, and some good projects have been lost or delayed in the process, there was more than a bit of "because we call it 'high-speed' it must be good so give my district money" spending planned in the original wave.  With luck, once we get past the next elections some of the political-partisanship will die down, and maybe some of the good projects will survive or come back in a scaled down form.

 

It's inefficient, but that's democracy.  I don't really want a government that's efficient at spending my money anyway.  :grin

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scott

I wonder how much this kind of thing is a problem with "thinking big" or trying to make big changes with a few big projects. It'd be interesting to see how it would work to put similar funding toward lots of smaller local/regional services. Of course, that gets tied up in local land-use planning, since in the US land use decisions are made by localities rather than by states or the national government (in all but a few cases).

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Guest ___

It's a tad more complicated, andam going to ply a little devil's advocate. Look at the issue with the new port tunnel between NYC and NJ that got canned. Right now, DC Metro lost all of its 150m USD funding from the Feds. The problem is that the national debt is 15trillon dollars, the current administration is writing blank checks like a 16 year old girl at Macy's and there is no accountability.The contracts won are always low-balled, and when the CIP is complete the total cost of these projects ends up double or tipple the original projected costs. This is part of the issue we have now with the Silver Line to Dulles. The cost has already doubled since the project began. Also one must realize that yeah, that LRT line sounds great, great to those people who live near it or use it, but to the guy whose school system is losing fifty million in state and federal funding bur see his neighboring county get a nice shiny new train is going to be on the phone with his senator fast than bill cosby on a jello commercial.

 

I spent four years as Comissi9on Gray's representative back in the early 90's while in college on the county transportation board so I had to hear both sides of the coin. Yeah, I'm pro-transit, pro bus, pro-light rail, pro-heavy rail, but at the same time I had to consider where the moment was coming from. Personally, if you get just a small piece of the defense diverted to transit, man it would mean the world, but even DOD is giving up some ground.

 

Food for thoguht, here's the 2011 budget: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/02/01/us/budget.html See how pathetic transportation is.

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Mudkip Orange
there was more than a bit of "because we call it 'high-speed' it must be good so give my district money" spending

 

Yeah, I didn't really cry when Wisconsin or Ohio teabagged away their portions. You're not going to get Diesel trains in mixed traffic on private freight railroads to even pay operating costs, ever.

 

And as much of an emotional attachment as I have to Amtrak Cascades, if WashDOT wants to spend a billion dollars on a third track they need to own that track in fee simple, like the UTA line north of SLC. You don't give a billion dollars of infrastructure to a private company in exchange for vaguely defined "operating agreements."

 

The thing that worries me about FL bowing out is that now Florida was kind of like a rodeo clown, it distracted the teabaggers, and now that it's gone they and the think tanks and the idiot "journalists" will descend on Cali to try to dis the system.

 

For that reason I really hope LaHood and Mica can tag-team some way around the governor and "shove it down Florida's throat," to use one of the currently-in-vogue political metaphors.

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Krackel Hopper

The thing I find most frustrating, is the American lack of focus and attention span.  If we are not going to finish the tunnel between NY & NJ, why did we even start it?  If Florida does not want HSR, why did they spend nearly $26 million dollars conducting surveys?  We (Americans) are in such financial trouble because before we can even start a project, we have to spend millions, if not billions of dollars conducting surveys and studies.  Don't get me wrong, my college degree is in Parks Mgmt & Conservation.  I understand the values of environmental impact studies along with the engineering and all the other surveys to build a strong foundation for a project.  It's just, by the time all of these surveys and studies are complete, we have a new political party at the helm and they kill the current project for their political gain.

 

When was the last time America actually commit to completing a large scale infrastructure project?

 

When I see things like the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, I can't imagine the United States ever having the attention span to complete a project of that magnitude.

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bikkuri bahn
We (Americans) are in such financial trouble because before we can even start a project, we have to spend millions, if not billions of dollars conducting surveys and studies.

 

Sounds like the discussion we had about the HSR studies that have been , and continue to be done, in Australia.  It seems in some countries, rather than telling a youngster to become an engineer, you should steer them towards consulting (or the law).  Sad.

 

*btw, it seems the Florida governor is coming under considerable pressure to reconsider his position, with some of it coming from within his own party (Mica, et al)

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westfalen

It's a sad fact of life in both the US and Australia that an incoming government is going to squash all the previous governments projects for no other reason than they are the opposition and everything they do borders on evil, except for the ones that are going to bring them in more taxes, they always stay. We need to speed up the consultation and feasibility study process, or get rid of it altogether (how many of them do you need?), and actually get construction far enough along that it costs too much to stop, but it would be the government who would have to do that so we're back where we started.

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disturbman

This is where for me the discussion hits the wall. I can't understand how the American economy/government function. The US is the richest country on the planet but it seems that they are unable to sustain state wide infrastructure projects, good health care and education system. But strangely enough, at the same moment, the rest of the Western World (meaning Europe and Japan) seems able to pull these off without that much of a problem. So my question is: where does your money go?! I don't quite get it.

 

And every time I read about those susidy issues. The overall american budget is gigantic but it always sound to be a problem to have to give $10m subsidy per year to a train line. At this level, $10m is nothing.

 

On the study thing, yes the process to build important infrastructure is long but it's long and ostly everywhere. It takes around 20 years in France to build a stretch of HRL. The ones that are in the process to break ground (LGV BPL, LGV SEA and LGV Languedoc-Roussillon) have been in the pipes since the late 80s.

 

Last problem is, eventhough the US have in general a lowest density than Europe, projects cost there way more. The prices per km of US projects is quite incredible. For exemple: $5bn for 32 km of elevated transit line in Honolulu (and this is without the usual US cost overruns) gives you $156m per km. That's the price of deep bored subway in Paris (~20m deep), not of an elevated line.

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scott

This is where for me the discussion hits the wall. I can't understand how the American economy/government function.

 

Easy: they don't.  :grin

 

Normally I don't like easy cynicism, but I couldn't resist. Of course, I'm a bureaucrat, so I tend to think government would work just fine (in most cases) if it wasn't continually fouled up by shifting politics.

 

The US is the richest country on the planet but it seems that they are unable to sustain state wide infrastructure projects, good health care and education system. But strangely enough, at the same moment, the rest of the Western World (meaning Europe and Japan) seems able to pull these off without that much of a problem. So my question is: where does your money go?! I don't quite get it.

 

We seem to have a fundamental antipathy toward public facilities, shared public goods, publicly-owned spaces, and (lately) civil society in general. At least those who shuffle the money around do, and since "the economy" is the main topic of discussion, people seem to have a hard time even discussing public life. All of which is a great strain on those of us who tend to think the other way around.  :grin

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Guest ___

This is where for me the discussion hits the wall. I can't understand how the American economy/government function. The US is the richest country on the planet but it seems that they are unable to sustain state wide infrastructure projects, good health care and education system. But strangely enough, at the same moment, the rest of the Western World (meaning Europe and Japan) seems able to pull these off without that much of a problem. So my question is: where does your money go?! I don't quite get it.

 

And every time I read about those susidy issues. The overall american budget is gigantic but it always sound to be a problem to have to give $10m subsidy per year to a train line. At this level, $10m is nothing.

 

On the study thing, yes the process to build important infrastructure is long but it's long and ostly everywhere. It takes around 20 years in France to build a stretch of HRL. The ones that are in the process to break ground (LGV BPL, LGV SEA and LGV Languedoc-Roussillon) have been in the pipes since the late 80s.

 

Last problem is, eventhough the US have in general a lowest density than Europe, projects cost there way more. The prices per km of US projects is quite incredible. For exemple: $5bn for 32 km of elevated transit line in Honolulu (and this is without the usual US cost overruns) gives you $156m per km. That's the price of deep bored subway in Paris (~20m deep), not of an elevated line.

 

$40 dollar hammers, $800 staplers, and $1400 Swanson TV dinners itemized under government contracts. The thing the term "wealthiest country in the world" is more boasting than factual. Unlike the rest of the world, US bills, and expenditures are laden with earmarks. A great example, a bill that would finance15 new city buses for 4.2 million dollars has a 2 million dollar earmarked tacked on to the bill allowing for inner city toys for guns program.

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bikkuri bahn

It's also a matter of priorities.  The $53 billion for six years of HSR development is still less than one year allocated for highways- yet HSR is what gets spotlit.  Let's not even mention the billions (now trillion) spent on wars ($775 billion to date for Iraq, and $379 billion for Afghanistan).

 

http://costofwar.com/en/

 

...and $1400 Swanson TV dinners itemized under government contracts

 

"Make sure to chew twenty times with each bite, son, 'cause that's a mighty expensive salisbury steak and mashed potatoes you got there..."

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Guest ___

It's also a matter of priorities.  The $53 billion for six years of HSR development is still less than one year allocated for highways- yet HSR is what gets spotlit.  Let's not even mention the billions (now trillion) spent on wars ($775 billion to date for Iraq, and $379 billion for Afghanistan).

 

http://costofwar.com/en/

 

...and $1400 Swanson TV dinners itemized under government contracts

 

"Make sure to chew twenty times with each bite, son, 'cause that's a mighty expensive salisbury steak and mashed potatoes you got there..."

 

The environmentalists are always rallying on the steps of Cap-Hill over Salisbury steak. Something about TV dinners polluting the earth. BTW: You ever want to see something as funny as the three stooges, you should see what happens when a PETA rally a PETA rally and an anti-globalization rally all get booked for the same space at Lafayette Park at the same time? It's priceless, all they do is turn on each other. I heard ANSWER had was getting angry calls from every left-wing group out there over it. They spent so much time fighting each other Secret Service, and DHS spent an hour carting them all away for disorderly, that was back in 1992.

 

But getting back OT, the reason why HST will have trouble getting funding is that one congressman may propose a 2b bill to build a line in Arkansas, but the rest of congers will vote against because their constitutes in Iowa or Kansas see this as wasteful as it has no benefit for their constitutes. Personally, I await the great martian invasion. All hail our new Martian overlords. :P

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KenS

Well we (America) are very good at spending money on highways and airports.  Those all get Federal subsidies (often the majority of funding) that nobody ever complains about unless they're cut (or someone really goes overboard like Boston's Big Dig project of the last 20 years; nice tunnels, but way over budget).

 

But to get back to railroads.  Big-ticket HSR projects for "200 mph" trains are exciting, so politicians like those as a way to build voter interest (the problem is that this also makes them a big target since they're so expensive).  Our largest problem is that HSR alone isn't a solution. It needs to be integrated with other systems to work as a whole.  And w're a long ways from that yet.  In that sense, most HSR is premature unless it's intended for air-travel replacement (which implies a need for large parking at suburban stations, not just urban-center stations the potential suburban riders can't use).

 

Japan's public transit works because you have local and regional feeder lines that operate frequently and reliably, and you have those because they serve town centers with good bus/taxi service (or small towns where you can walk to the station).  And you have that because people use them (a chickan and egg problem).  Japan had all that before they built the first Shinkansen.

 

We're getting better in major urban areas, with integrated intercity/commuter/subway/bus stations; something that was rare to non-existant twenty years ago.  And much of that was Federally subsidized.  Sometimes quietly, sometimes with great controversy (we love political battles). But there is effective funding of rail and rail-integrated transit.  It's just small relative to other modes, which means improvement is very slow.

 

But another thing to realize is that America's population is somewhat polarized between the urbanized coasts (where public transit makes a fair bit of sense) and the more rural middle of the country, which is not without urban centers, but they tend to be further apart and hold a lesser percentage of the population. And even on the coasts, towns away from the major inter-city corridors tends to be left out of "public transit" projects, although many get subsidies for bus systems now.

 

Particularly when the government is already spending beyond its means, the rural voters see spending for public transit (which they won't get a meaningful share of and can't really use compared to highway subsidies) as special-interest spending, and not without reason.  That's a bit simplified, but it's one of the factors behind the polarization of transit funding.

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