Thursday, March 31, 2011


BY DINESH RAMDE (92 comments)
Original WSJ article here

March 29, 2011

Several months after rejecting federal funds to build high-speed rail across Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is now asking for at least $150 million to add trains for an existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago line.

Walker said Tuesday the federal funds would be used to buy two train sets and eight locomotives as well as build a maintenance facility in Milwaukee.

The announcement came after the Republican governor, upholding a campaign promise, turned down $810 million to build a Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed line. Walker had criticized the rail line as a waste of taxpayer money.

Upgrading this line, however, will save the state money through lower operating expenses, fewer capital costs and more ticket revenue while helping to accommodate growth in the rail line, he said.

"That's good for business, that's good for business travelers and it's yet one more incentive to do business here in southeastern Wisconsin," he said.

The money would come from $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds that Florida was awarded but rejected. Walker said Wisconsin was filing its application jointly with Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Amtrak.

He said one big difference between his proposal and the Madison-Milwaukee line was a proven level of demand. The Hiawatha line is an established corridor with access points already in place.

"You've got a proven commodity here, and we're making it better," he said.

Amtrak's Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago offers seven trips in each direction from Monday through Saturday, and six trips on Sunday.

Walker said the grant would allow for more and faster trips. The train currently travels at 79 mph, making the trip about 90 minutes each way. The upgrades would allow it to eventually travel as fast as 110 mph, shaving nearly 30 minutes from the trip, he said.

Walker added that he expected the fare — $22 each way — to remain unchanged.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued a statement supporting the funding application. Barrett, the Democrat who ran against Walker in November and was one of Walker's most outspoken critics for refusing the other federal funds, said the decision to apply for the funds made sense.

However, Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman criticized Walker for applying for the same stimulus dollars he scoffed at earlier. The $810 million would have expanded public transportation to new parts of the state, Bauman said, yet Wisconsin "kicked in the face of the federal government" by rejecting the dollars as an example of government run amok.

"Now we here we're applying for the same federal stimulus money, the exact same source of money, and somehow this is wonderful and good and this is going to promote the economic fortunes of southeastern Wisconsin," he said.

Walker said the grant would also cover a train shed that was to have been covered by the $810 million grant. He said the new grant would cover some of the cost, saving state taxpayers nearly $20 million.

He said he didn't think his refusal of previous funds would hurt his current application, saying the new request would involve upgrades that would benefit other states as well.

One of those states is Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday his state is seeking nearly $1 billion as part of the grant application.

That application will seek $373 million for upgrades to existing Missouri lines and about $600 million to plan, design and buy land for a separate line dedicated to high-speed rail only, said Nixon, a Democrat.

President Barack Obama has called for a six-year, $53 billion spending plan for high-speed rail as part of his goal of using infrastructure spending to jump-start job creation. In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama said he wanted to provide 80 percent of Americans with access to high-speed trains within a quarter of a century.

Amtrak's Hiawatha line carried nearly 800,000 passengers between Milwaukee and Chicago last year and is seeing growth this year, Walker said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Countdown to DesertXpress begins...

From the Official Blog of the United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood

March 28, 2011

States and regions across the country are working tirelessly to realize President Obama's vision for American high-speed rail. And on Friday, I had the pleasure of joining Nevada Senator Harry Reid to announce that construction on the DesertXpress corridor between Las Vegas and Southern California will soon get underway.

The DesertXpress project cleared a major hurdle last Friday when the Federal Railroad Administration released its final environmental impact statement.

DesertXpress promises travel times of 85 minutes between Victorville, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. This cuts the existing drive--three hours under the best conditions and nearly twice as long in traffic--in half. Sitting in congestion for four, five and even six hours along I-15 is especially brutal for travelers paying sky high gas prices.

But high-speed rail means much more than a shorter trip from California to Las Vegas. It means jobs, and it means reinvigorated American manufacturing.

Already, 30 rail companies from around the world have pledged that, if they’re selected for high-speed rail contracts, they will hire American workers and expand their bases of operations in the United States. And the administration’s 100 percent “Buy America” requirement will generate a powerful ripple effect throughout the supply chain.

Just think about the possibility. Factory workers building electric-powered trains. Engineers laying new track. Conductors, operators and ticket-takers helping passengers speed to their destinations. Americans of every trade advancing down the track to a better future.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood With US Senator Harry Reid and Nevada Department of Transportation Director Susan Martinovich

“This announcement brings us one small step away from tens of thousands of new jobs not only through the project’s construction, but by boosting our tourism. This line will connect tourists from southern California to our state’s great attractions like the Las Vegas Strip and the Hoover Dam. This announcement is excellent news for our state’s economic recovery."

And those are just the direct ripple-effects. High-speed rail also means economic development. As Nevada Senator Harry Reid said:

“This announcement brings us one small step away from tens of thousands of new jobs not only through the project’s construction, but by boosting our tourism. This line will connect tourists from southern California to our state’s great attractions like the Las Vegas Strip and the Hoover Dam. This announcement is excellent news for our state’s economic recovery."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHoodWith US Senator with Harry Reid announcing the DesertXpress EIS release

DesertXpress will give people a safe, convenient transportation alternative to the notoriously congested I-15. And in a time of enormous economic challenge, it will create quality jobs.

This is the promise high-speed rail offers communities across the country. This is how America wins the future.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Conservatives home in on 'ObamaRail'


By Keith Laing - 03/26/11 04:32 PM ET

“ObamaRail” is fast becoming the new “ObamaCare” for many Republicans.

Conservative activists are deriding the high-speed rail proposals set out by President Obama in his State of the Union address and 2012 budget as wasteful spending that imposes new mandates on cash-strapped state governments.

“Look, you look at the studies of these things, when they get built, [they] cost way more than they think,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a Fox News interview shortly after he rejected $2.4 billion for a railway connecting Tampa and Orlando.

The Republican governor also said states get stuck with the costs of operating the new railways once they are built. “Who is going to take responsibility for that,” he asks.

The fight over high-speed rail loudly echoes the battle over healthcare, with Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio also making big shows of rejecting federal money.

The vehemence of Republican critics has surprised even some Republicans, who say transportation issues used to find more bipartisan support.

“This is the most significant headwind we’ve had in 50 years,” said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Cardenas, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, was criticized after being elected ACU chairman for supporting the Florida rail project so many staunch conservatives there hated.
He said advocates for rail transportation spending have been caught off guard by the backlash.

“It’s a headwind that caught (rail) smack in the face. It’s being looked at from a standpoint of ‘hey, if we don’t need to build it today, let’s not do it,’” said Cardenas, who has registered to lobby on behalf of high-speed rail, putting him at odds with the Florida Republican Party he led under former Gov. Jeb Bush.

In the past, it was possible to build a consensus between Washington and state governments on infrastructure spending, Cardenas said. “It was a matter of dollar separation, not where you [are] doing something or not.”

Transportation budget negotiations between the House and Senate “were the easiest conferences to attend,” he added.

Not anymore.

One of the first budget proposals to emerge from the new House Republican majority was to cut $1 billion in high-speed rail spending this year. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has taken to Capitol Hill to defend the projects, but has faced hostile congressional committees.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said the increased partisanship of rail politics is Obama’s fault.

He said the White House screwed up by pushing for more high-speed rail investments in places where rail transportation is less popular. As a result, the administration is being stung by criticism that the proposed funding is wasteful spending.

“I don’t see it as a partisan at all,” Mica said of the rail fight. “I see it as the administration flubbed its job. I’m a Republican and I’m one of the strongest supporters of high speed rail.”

In an interview, Mica said the administration should have concentrated its rail efforts on the densely-populated northeast corridor. He added many of the projects proposed by the Obama administration are not truly high-speed.

Instead, Mica said, they barely increase the speed of existing Amtrak trains, which are already heavily subsidized.

“The problem is that there were 78 awards and Amtrak hijacked 76 of them for their Soviet-style train operation,” he said. “They made very unwise choices and set the high-speed rail effort back in the United States. It’s sad.”

Mica pointed out that only this month the Department of Transportation designated the Northeast as a federal rail corridor. Prior to that, the DoT had argued the Northeast did not need the designation because it had already developed railways.

The decision means the Northeast will more easily be able to compete for the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds that were rejected by Scott. Lawmakers from the region had long pressed the Obama administration to make the change.

“So many people along the northeast corridor are wondering what in heaven’s name is the administration thinking giving away limited money on marginal projects,” Mica said. “Congress and the administration threw huge amounts of money in the name of high-speed rail for snail-speed service.

“Even the most learned observer could smell a rat,” Mica continued. “You’ve got to do it where it makes sense, then it’s bipartisan.”

Some rail supporters are unconvinced.

Americans for Public Transportation President William Millar said Obama would likely have been criticized no matter which rail projects he proposed.

“It’s fashionable today to take every issue and rip it apart in a partisan way,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult time to be a leader trying to lay out a great future for the country. I’m not trying to sound like a defender of the president, but just as an observer of politics, opponents of the president are going to use whatever they can.

“The era we live in, nothing is off limits,” Millar concluded.

Millar noted that the federal push for high-speed rail began when President George W. Bush signed the Passenger Rail Investment Act, not when President Obama talked it up in his first State of the Union address.

“Republicans have a long history of supporting infrastructure projects,” he said. “I hope that doesn’t change.”


NOTE FROM BLOG EDITOR: The following article published in American Thinker on March 28, 2011 highlights an ongoing and even more evident problem with journalists and writers who focus on the subject of high-speed rail. The problem: They know nothing about high-speed rail (HSR) and their comments on the subject make that very clear. They are in good company. Bill O'Reilly at Fox, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Vice President Joe Biden, Congressmen and Senators, and Republican Party spokespersons don't understand it, either. Their comments make that very clear.

They don't understand that HSR isn't exemplified by traveling at slow speeds like the 150 mph example everyone uses. Why do they use it? Because Amtrak's Acela train travels 150 mph top speed (but averages only 70 mph). Amtrak's Northeast Corridor Acela train exemplifies Amtrak's experience with "high-speed rail" -- which isn't high-speed rail at all. Amtrak understands 150 mph rapid rail as exemplified by their Northeast Corridor Acela train -- and that's what they and union workers are pushing on the American people, calling it "high-speed rail."

Rapid rail and high-speed are not the same thing.

HSR travels at a minimum speed of 150 mph at and a maximum of 222 mph, averaging about 200 mph (depending on the distance between departure and destination). The author of the article below, Al Boese, does a wonderful job of calculating the per mile building costs of "high-speed rail" for a train designed to go 110 miles. If Mr. Boese understood high-speed rail, he would know that speed capacity defines what kind of rail project is being built. In this case, a rapid transit train, not high-speed rail is being built -- yet, he continues to reference the project as "high-speed rail" -- which it is not. He misses the entire story -- as have the others mentioned earlier.

The real story is that the Obama Administration is building rapid transit, not high-speed rail. The real story is that it is far less expensive to build rapid rail than to build high-speed rail. So, where's all of that extra money going? I know Obama wants to save the unions because it's the only way to save the Democrat Party, but if he destroys America's economy in the process (especially at the State level), it goes beyond ridiculous to insane. The lies -- calling rapid rail high-speed rail -- are a boondoggle and everyone seems to miss it. It's like a newspaper reporter who buries the lead! Why does the Obama Administration want to charge more to build rapid transit than it costs and justify the over-spending by calling it high-speed rail -- which it is not?

Mr. Boese is right in stating that a remote train stop isn't a daily traveler's final destination. What Mr. Boese doesn't comprehend is that there are three elements to a well-designed, national, high-speed rail system: 1) High-speed rail (owned by private investors) that carries people relatively long distances (so the train can achieve top speed of 222 mph and maintain it, thus functioning at top levels of efficiency); 2) Rapid transit (owned by each State) which picks up passengers at somewhat remote locations and, at the speed of 150 mph, carries them from a somewhat remote drop-off point to part three of the total system, (which is) 3) Light rail (owned by each city) -- which carries passengers quickly (at approximaely 50 to 70 mph) very close to their front doors.

I am always happy to see the subject of high-speed rail discussed publicly -- but would be much happier if those writing about it would do their homework so the statements they make and the assumptions they draw about whether high-speed rail will be effective are an accurate reflection of reality rather than misassumptions. Governors Walker, Scott and Kasich have it right -- and the Republican Party spokespersons don't even understand why! Editors at American Thinker usually scrutinize what writers submit more carefully... perhaps they don't know the difference, either. The suggested system design was submitted to the U.S. Government in 1995 by private investors representing a Virginia company called AmeriRail... no taxpayer dollars involved whatsoever in building the system and hands experienced with high-speed rail projects (Amtrak has no such experience) ready to build. A training program to provide jobs for veterans returning from the Middle East is part of AmeriRail's plan to build an American high-speed rail system nationally.

Finally, I get numerous emails from people who do not live in the Northeast Corridor who point out that they have no desire to fund the residential choices and transportation alternatives for people who live in the Northeast Corridor. If they need a rapid rail system, let residents of the Northeast Corridor raise funds and build it themselves. Those of us who live in what Easterners refer to as "fly-over country" really have no desire to pay transportation costs so people can work in New York City but live in Hartford, Connecticut. I understand not wanting to live in New York City, but curb your arrogance and stop asking the rest of us to pay for your lifestyle choices.

March 28, 2011

High Speed Delusion

American Thinker

March 28, 2011

Al Boese

Last Tuesday, March 22nd, saw two Obama high speed rail shills, hapless Illinois Governor Quinn and the loyal, ebullient, camera centric Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, shamelessly announcing with pride, the next phase of the so called Chicago to St Louis High Speed Rail project. The new $1.2 billion phase is to run from Bloomington, IL to Dwight IL, a distance of 58.5 miles of what could only be described as the "Billion Dollar Train to Nowhere." Folks, that amounts to a mere $20,618,556 per mile, with an estimated heart stopping speed of 110 mph. Google Map estimates driving between these destinations to be 1 hour 10 minutes. This breakthrough rail line will take only 32 minutes, assuming your actual destination in either Bloomington or Dwight is the train station itself.

A guess: a remote train stop would not be your final travel objective. Consequently one must add some time to travel to the train station at both ends of the journey to calculate total elapsed time. If you are lucky, that could add 10 or more minutes at each end, so let's say a total of 25 minutes just getting to and from the stations.

Oh yes, to avoid missing the train, careful planning requires some contingency time be built into your travel plan to account for traffic slowdowns or even a freight train. That is another 5 to10 minutes. This adds up to about 1 hr 7 minutes, really close to the Google Map estimate. Furthermore, how often is this high speed train going to run and will it actually stop at Dwight?

Driving offers infinite departure and arrival times, a significant option of convenience, not to be overlooked. As to cost, driving that distance at a full up cost of $0.58 per mile will be a total of $33.93. The California High Speed Rail operating cost estimate is $2.30 per passenger mile, which could be used in our analysis. Therefore our theoretical trip between Dwight and Bloomington will cost $134.55, about $100.00 more than a drive.

Finally, the last flaw in the project is the rail congestion from Chicago to Joliet, some 40 miles, where delays and limited speeds are the norm. Without a completely separate and dedicated track system, any passenger service is low speed between these points, irrespective of the condition of the track or the rated speed of the locomotion equipment. In other words, this project is a sham and deceitful.

There is one other and troubling aspect of this mystical and politically correct new transportation system: it costs billions of dollars neither the federal government nor the State of Illinois has to spend. All known and available funds are committed to spending for current and future needs and obligations. Since no private investment is even a remote possibility without government guarantees, this becomes yet another state and federal supported obligation on top of the already unsustainable commitments we are facing. It is time to recognize the futility of it all and cease the insanity of universal High Speed Passenger Rail.

High speed passenger rail, and I mean high speed at 150 + mph is desirable and in substantial use in such dense geography as the northeast corridor between Boston, Connecticut New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. With all due respect to St Louis, is there that much demand to go there, or anywhere in between? The same can be said for Detroit or Minneapolis, more Obama targets for high speed rail, in addition to the Orlando-Tampa FL route and the favorite, LA to the SF Bay Area.

Make no mistake, rail is ideally suited, and the mode of choice, for moving freight long distances. The Association of American Railroads states that the average freight train can move one ton of cargo 480 miles on one gallon of fuel, and one train can carry the freight of 280 trucks. As to fuel consumption, pollution, highway congestion, safety, cost and road damage, there is no comparison, rail wins on all accounts, including delivery time. Additionally, railroads are private, taxpaying ventures, requiring no subsidies. If high speed passenger rail were so compelling, why are there no initiatives by private sector railroads to fill a demand? The simple answer: there is no economic case, therefore, no demand for high speed passenger rail in America, period.

The mystery remains; why is the current administration so obsessed with the delusion of high speed rail for America, and at staggering costs? No reasonable economic case has found the facts to support the idea. It is an inexplicable, irrational, yet passionate desire of the political left to impose high speed rail on this country. Is it Europe or Japan envy, or is the concept of freedom of choice and flexibility that the automobile and our highways offer, just too much to bear for the elite liberals and their President?

Friday, March 18, 2011


March 2011

By Philip Klein from the March 2011 issue

"Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail," President Obama declared in his State of the Union address, making it the most ambitious element of his vision for "winning the future."

Invoking national pride, Obama mused that "America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the interstate highway system." Sadly, he lamented, the U.S. now lags behind Europe, Russia, and China in modern transportation infrastructure.

If the nation met his goal for high-speed rail adoption, he said, "This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying -- without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already under way."

To most Americans, the passing reference to California was likely an afterthought, lost amid all the dreamy rhetoric of rebuilding the nation. But upon closer inspection, the state's proposed high-speed rail system serves as a perfect example of the gap between the promise of transformational liberalism and the reality of big government. Taxpayers everywhere should pay attention, because the project has already been granted $3.2 billion in federal funds, mostly through Obama's economic stimulus package -- and its backers hope to gobble up billions more over the next decade.

The $43 billion transportation project to link Los Angeles to San Francisco with a bullet train by 2020 would be considered grandiose during the plushest of times, yet it's being pursued during an era when governments at all levels are mired in deep fiscal crises. The plan has been subject to a series of scathing reports by independent analysts, raising concerns about everything from its cost estimates to its business model. The University of California at Berkeley has questioned its lofty ridership projections. And even the Washington Post has editorialized against it.

Although voters in the financially strapped Golden State approved a ballot measure in 2008 authorizing up to $9.9 billion in bonds to build the rail system, the project has encountered a lot of opposition as it has progressed. Several cities are suing to prevent the trains from tearing through their downtowns. Farmers are worried that the tracks will carve up their land. Some environmental groups normally predisposed to supporting high-speed rail have turned against the proposed route, fearing its effects on undeveloped areas. When the High-Speed Rail Authority announced that the initial section of the line would be built in the state's less inhabited Central Valley region, many were puzzled as to why they didn't begin by connecting large cities with more potential riders. As a result, critics dubbed it the "train to nowhere."

"The cost projections are overly optimistic," Wendell Cox, a public policy consultant and co-author of a critical report for the libertarian Reason Foundation, says. "The ridership projections are absolutely crazy. The thing will have no impact on highway traffic and will have little or no impact on the amount of planes in the air. This project really defines the term ‘boondoggle.'"

The project will rise or fall based on federal commitments, a reality that spurred California state senator Doug LaMalfa to visit Washington in early January to make a rather unusual request for a state legislator.

"I know they're not used to this, but I asked them to stop sending us money," LaMalfa, a Republican, said. "Please stop sending us money....When they send us money, it actually costs us money."

So, at a time of unprecedented debt, why are the state government and the Obama administration still committed to the high-speed rail project? Why are planners starting the construction in a tiny, almost-unknown town outside of Fresno rather than in a major population center? And is there any chance of putting the brakes on the project?

BRINGING HIGH-SPEED RAIL to America has been a decades-long dream for liberals, who have long envied Europe's extensive rail system. Building a high-speed rail network, they hope, would move the nation away from automobiles and reduce pollution. It has the added bonus of being a massive, centrally planned public works project. The problem is just because rail has worked elsewhere, that doesn't mean it makes sense here.

"We're not like Spain or France, where the population densities are a lot higher, and the cities are not as spread out," Ken Orski, a former transportation official in the Nixon and Ford administrations and publisher of the newsletter Innovation Briefs, says. "So you can connect cities like Barcelona and Madrid or Paris and Marseilles easily."

In addition, large European cities have "distribution systems," meaning that when passengers arrive at a station, they can get where they need to go by public transportation or walking, without a car. By contrast, in a city like say, Fresno, a person would be stranded without one.
"So people who are saying ‘Look at Europe, why can't we be like Europe?' I don't think they really realize the difference between our geographic and demographic conditions and theirs," Orski says.

The only place where high-speed rail could theoretically make sense would be the Northeast corridor from Washington to Boston, which would pass through Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. The problem is, Orski explains, it's likely "50 years too late," because the area along that route is already densely populated and developed, making it cost prohibitive to acquire right of way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Florida high court: Governor can reject rail funding

(AP) – (3/4/11)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Friday that $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding intended for Florida will be sent to other states after the state Supreme Court upheld Gov. Rick Scott's decision to reject the money.

The Republican governor's decision effectively kills the Tampa-Orlando route.

Until Scott's election in November, it had been on track to become a leading example of how the Obama administration's stimulus plan is creating jobs and reviving the nation's passenger rail system.

Several states, including New York and Rhode Island, have asked LaHood for Florida's rail funds, but the only project that would achieve the high speeds associated with bullet trains in Asia and Europe would be California's.

"I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America's high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens," LaHood said in a statement.

Scott submitted a formal rejection of the funding shortly after a Friday morning telephone conversation with LaHood.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement that it now will evaluate its options for making the $2.4 billion available elsewhere.

The Florida Supreme Court had put the bipartisan lawsuit filed Tuesday on a fast track because LaHood had given Scott until Friday to accept the money.

Scott, an outspoken critic of the stimulus program, has said he believes the rail project would put Florida taxpayers on the hook for billions in cost overruns and operating subsidies.

State Sens. Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat, and Thad Altman, a Viera Republican, disagreed and sued Scott. Joyner said in a statement that the lawsuit sends a message to the governor that his actions will not always go unchallenged.

"Just because he can do it, does not make it right," Joyner said.

They said overruns and subsidies would be the responsibility of the private company contracted to build and operate the system and argued state law gave Scott no choice but to accept the money.

The Supreme Court issued a brief but unanimous decision siding with Scott less than 24 hours after hearing oral arguments. The unsigned opinion said the senators did not show they were entitled to an emergency court order that would have required Scott to accept the money.

Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said in a statement that Scott was pleased with the court's decision.

"He is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida's economy around," he said.

The ruling disappointed rail boosters such as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

"It's unfortunate for the state because we could remake our transportation system that is now built on an interstate system that gets so clogged at rush hour, and you can imagine what it's going to be like 20 or 30 years from now," Nelson said. "And it's unfortunate for the 24,000 people that will not have these jobs in the next few years."

LaHood thought he'd found another way to insulate the state from liability by reaching an agreement with local government officials in central and South Florida to let them manage the project. Even that proposal failed to win over Scott.

Scott is third Republican governor elected in November to kill rail projects approved by his predecessor. Governors in Wisconsin and Ohio also turned down funds previously agreed to by Democrats for the national high-speed rail system, which President Barack Obama wants to make a signature project of his administration.

In Florida, the money had been accepted by Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist, who lost a U.S. Senate race last year.