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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Court rules in Scott's favor in HSR case; governor again tells LaHood, 'no thanks'


Today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott told U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that he would not change his decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal grants to build a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando.

The announcement from Scott’s office came shortly after the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that the governor did not exceed his constitutional authority by turning down the funds.

"The governor is gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision, he is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida's economy around," said officials in Scott’s office in a prepared statement. "He also spoke with USDOT Secretary LaHood this morning and informed him that Florida will focus on other infrastructure projects and will not move forward with any federal high-speed rail plan."

The Orlando Sentinel reported that LaHood issued a statement this morning indicating he would send the funds to other states interested in high-speed rail.

The court ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed March 1 against Scott by Florida state Sens. Thad Altman (R-Rockledge) and Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa). The senators argued Scott acted beyond his executive authority when he turned down the federal funds.

The senators asked the court to “order the respondent to expeditiously accept the funds and apply such funds appropriated by Congress and the Florida Legislature for the Florida High Speed Rail Project,” according to a press release issued earlier this week by the Florida Senate Democratic Office.

The court ruled less than 24 hours after hearing oral arguments in the case in order to meet today’s deadline, set by LaHood, for Scott to reconsider his decision.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/4/2011