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A reprieve for high-speed rail in Florida?

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN Radio National Correspondent
An artist's rendering of part of the proposed plan to link Orlando and Tampa, Florida, by high-speed rail.
An artist's rendering of part of the proposed plan to link Orlando and Tampa, Florida, by high-speed rail.
  • Florida governor last week rejected $2.4 billion in federal funding for the project
  • The U.S. Transportation secretary says the project would create jobs
  • Scott agreed to re-examine the details of the project, the secretary says

(CNN) -- A proposed high-speed rail line in Florida may not be dead after all.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal funding last week for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, but the project has not run off the tracks yet. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with Scott Friday morning to discuss the plan in an attempt to keep it alive.

Touting jobs the project would create and the potential economic growth for the state of Florida, LaHood said in a written statement that Scott "asked me for additional information about the state's role in this project, the responsibilities of the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as how the state would be protected from liability."

The Republican governor had cited potential cost overruns, long-term operating costs and questions about the projected use of the line as a reason for canceling the high-speed rail project.

Map: Proposed high speed rails
Explainer: High speed rails worldwide

The statement said that LaHood wanted to give Scott additional time to examine the details of an agreement crafted by officials from Tampa, Orlando, Lakeland and Miami and to consult with the staff at Florida's Department of Transportation before making a final decision.

LaHood said he expected a decision by the end of next week.

High-speed rail is a focal point of the Obama administration's plan to invest in the nation's infrastructure as a way to create jobs and grow the nation's economy.

But in recent months, newly elected Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio rejected proposed high-speed rail projects in their states. In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie canceled a long-planned rail tunnel project that would have expanded commuter rail service between his state and New York. Scott seemed to be following their lead.

States scramble for rejected rail cash

Many local politicians urged Scott not to turn down the federal transportation funds. Even Florida Congressman John Mica, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who has expressed skepticism over the Obama administration's high-speed rail plans, was critical of Scott's decision.

In his written statement, LaHood said, "I feel we owe it to the people of Florida, who have been working to bring high speed rail to their state for the last 20 years, to go the extra mile."

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