It’s a scene straight from out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, R, (R-Fla.) turns down $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funding for a high-speed-rail line—only for private investors to parachute in to build the line themselves.
The Miami Herald reports that real estate company Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) is providing $1 billion to build the All Aboard Florida project, an hourly passenger rail service to connect Miami and Orlando by 2014. Intermediate stops will hit Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Someday the line might also extend to Tampa and Jacksonville.
FECI did months of study to determine that the rail line would be profitable. “We’ve completed due diligence and everything has confirmed our excitement,’’ All Aboard Florida executive Husein Cumber told the Herald. “This project is financially viable, and so we’re moving forward with it.”
The trains will come with a new train station in Miami, and possibly even 9 acres of mixed-use development. New York–based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill will work with local firm Zyscovich Architects to design the station.
While the train isn’t fast enough to be considered high-speed rail, it will run at 100 miles per hour. FECI will own and operate the train service once built, and FECI claims that the project will create 6,000 new jobs during construction, and employ 400 people once running.
In an editorial, The Orlando Sentinel showed its support for the project. “Leaders also should be eager to find other ways—without putting taxpayers at unreasonable risk—to help realize all the benefits of private train service between Orlando and Miami.”
Last year, ARCHITECT’s Nate Berg wrote that “public transit needs public funding. … Local, state, and federal dollars are the lifeblood of public transportation projects in the United States. ” All About Florida will test that hypothesis. And if the project is successful, Treehugger’s Brian Merchant writes, then “who knows, maybe investors will take another look at Ohio and Wisconsin, too.”