Monday, November 30, 2009

Florida considering dedicated funds for Tri-Rail

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In an effort to secure billions of dollars in federal stimulus money, Florida state legislators are trying to call a special session to demonstrate the state's commitment to Tri-Rail and SunRail, the proposed commuter rail system in Orlando. Legislators want to dedicate more money to Tri-Rail, as well as reduce taxpayers' exposure to potential SunRail lawsuits should CSX be at fault in an accident. If a tentative deal is reached on both issues, leaders hope federal officials will view the state's request for stimulus money with a kinder eye.

The Florida Department of Transportation has applied for more than $2.6 billion in stimulus funds and an additional $268 million to add passenger service on Florida East Coast Railway, which does not run passenger service in South Florida.

SunRail lost labor backing from the AFL-CIO, which said the bill being drafted for the potential special session doesn't protect railroad workers' rights.

Tri-Rail serves more than 13,000 passengers a day and has seen it's budget drop from $61.6 million in fiscal year 2008 to $57 million in the current fiscal year.

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