Florida's high-speed rail plan is officially dead -- done in at the hands of Rick Scott. But the governor giveth as he taketh away. Scott says the state will pick up the tab on funding a project to dredge the Port of Miami, allowing it to handle larger ships. Scott says the project will create 30,000 jobs, while the initial Central Florida leg of the high-speed rail project would have created 24,000.
"Today I directed the Florida Department of Transportation to amend their work plan to include $77 million so that Florida can take another leap forward in international trade," Scott said in a statement. "This is the type of infrastructure project that will pay permanent, long-term dividends and provide a solid return on investment for Florida's taxpayers."
When the port is dredged to a depth of 50 feet, it will be able to handle even the largest ships that cross through the Panama Canal.
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Scott has been talking up spending to improve Florida's ports as a job-creating and infrastructure-improving alternative to the Obama-backed high-speed rail plan. Now he has put taxpayers' money where his mouth is. But the project will cost only $77 million, while the federal government would have picked up the $2.4 billion tab for the rail project.
The money will come out of the Florida Department of Transportation's existing work program.
Scott claims this project creates more jobs than the rail plan, but this wasn't an either-or situation. Plus the announcement, just hours after putting the final kill on the rail plan, does seem awfully political.