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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Florida Senate passes rail bill, which now heads to governor

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The Florida State Senate passed a rail bill 27-10, local newspapers report. It now heads to Gov. Charlie Crist for his signature. Crist has said he supports the bill. The bill clears away obstacles for construction of SunRail, a $1.2-billion commuter rail project in central Florida, and shores up South Florida's Tri-Rail with an extra $15 million in annual funding. The bill could also help the state win a $2.5-billion federal grant to link Tampa and Orlando with a high-speed rail line.


The vote came after unionized labor leaders reported they had reached a compromise on the special-session bill on commuter rail. Opposition from labor had threatened Democratic support in the Senate for the bill since the special legislative session began last week. The House has already passed the bill and has handed it off to the Senate, where vote had been in doubt.

"I want to thank everyone who has worked diligently to bring this bill to fruition," said Commissioner Jeff Koons, Chair, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. "Passage of this legislation would not have been possible without the support of the Leadership in the House and the Senate, especially that of Senate President Jeff Atwater.  Our gratitude also goes out to our three county commissions, our partners around the state, and the SFRTA Governing board. This bill benefits the thousands of riders who depend on Tri-Rail, the 320 employees who keep the system running each and every day, and the people of Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville."