Florida's Costly Mistake

High speed rail--what can possible be wrong with it?  It creates jobs which are sorely needed especially in today's fragile economy.  It is great for the environment in terms of taking drivers off the road.  Finally, high speed rail is part of the wave of the 21st Century's green revolution.

So, it comes as a rather interesting and perplexing surprise that the Governor of Florida Rick Scott has recently decided to "send 2.4 billion earmarked" for high speed rail for the state from the U.S. Department of Transportation back to Washington DC.  Governor Scott's explanation for rejecting the "green" transportation high speed rail dollars include issues pertaining to cost over-runs and concerns about having to return the $2.4 billion if the project failed among other cited reasons.  The explanations for rejecting the money have some merit in so far as concerns over whether the project would end up costing more than projected.  However, the Governor's decision to reject the money is wrong on many counts.

However, for Florida to move forward in the 21st Century, there needs to be forward thinking policies, one that involves visionaries who go into unchartered territory and truly make transformational changes to how Florida uses transportation.  In particular, the construction of the high speed rail system would surely help Florida's economy especially in the ever important construction sector both in the short and long-term.  In addition, high speed rail also brings great environmental benefits by taking people who would otherwise drive off the roads which in turn reduces carbon dioxide and has proven to work, especially in Europe and China.

Some lawmakers in Florida are upset over Scott's decision arguing that his decision shows he clearly lacks vision, which is what is needed in the 21st Century.  A vision is something that only a leader can have where they set the tone for everything else.  Scott's decision to reject the high speed rail funds shows he is not thinking about Florida's future, but rather about what one lawmaker refers to as a "political decision aimed at thwarting a priority of the Obama Administration."

As such, short-sighted politics in terms of, because "Obama is for something," therefore, "I am against it," may have played a part in Scott's decision to reject the high speed rail funds because his other reasons cited do not really make sense--such as the possibility of the project failing. In other words, he does not provide evidence that the project would result in cost overruns even though that is a valid concern nor does he provide evidence concerning how the project would fail other than conjecture.  Consequently, Governor Scott of Florida is an example of a backward rather than a forward thinking leader, which is necessary in order for the U.S. to really lead on green transportation.

Photo Credit:  Yaohua2000