Florida High Speed Rail

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Florida High Speed Rail would have been the first to use Bombardier's JetTrain technology.

Florida High Speed Rail is a proposed high-speed rail network in Florida. Funding for the system was authorized by a 2000 referendum of Florida voters and repealed by 64% of Florida voters in a 2004 referendum. The first phase, planned for completion in 2009, would have connected Orlando to Tampa (Phase 1 Part 1), with a later extension to St. Petersburg (Phase 1 Part 2). Later phases might have extended the network to Miami, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola.

Some have argued that the wording on the 2004 referendum was misleading, and some may have assumed it was the same as the 2000 referendum and voted the opposite of what they meant to vote.

Despite the denial of funding due to the referendum passed November 2, 2004, the Florida High Speed Rail Authority continues to meet, and is almost done with the environmental impact statement for the Tampa-Orlando segment.

On October 27, 2004, the authority voted to prefer the consortium of Fluor Corp. and Bombardier Transportation to build and operate the system, using Bombardier's JetTrain technology.

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Tampa to Orlando route

In early planning stages, all routes but the one along the median of Interstate 4 (which has been and is being widened by several road construction projects) were dropped from consideration; alternates used the CSX tracks to the south of I-4. Stations would be provided at downtown Tampa, northern Lakeland, Walt Disney World, possibly at the Orange County Convention Center (see below), and at Orlando International Airport. Lynx's #50 bus, which runs mostly express along I-4 from Walt Disney World to downtown Orlando, would likely be rerouted to serve the Disney station, which would be built on the northwest side of I-4 between US 192 and the Osceola Parkway.

Orlando route selection

Two routes were considered in the Orlando area. One would have split from I-4 at the SR 536 interchange, and run east along SR 536 and SR 417 to the south entrance to Orlando International Airport, from which it would head north to end at the planned South Terminal. The other route would continue along I-4 to SR 528, with an extra stop at the Orange County Convention Center and International Drive, and then run east along SR 528 and a new right-of-way east and southeast to the south entrance of the airport.

The SR 417 route (Greeneway Route) was selected by a 7-1 vote on October 27, 2004.

Advantages of the SR 417 route

  • The Walt Disney Company announced that if the SR 417 route was built, they would direct tourists to take the train from the airport to Walt Disney World. However, since they wanted to deny competitors on International Drive a station, they would keep busing tourists if the SR 528 route was built.
  • It would leave room for a planned light rail system along I-4 from Walt Disney World to downtown Orlando.
  • It would be shorter and thus faster.

Advantages of the SR 528 route

  • An extra stop would in theory mean more ridership.
  • Non-Disney area attractions would be served better.

External links

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