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Rick Scott's rail 'feasibility study' appears to be a report from the libertarian Reason Foundation

Gov. Rick Scott said before he'd make a decision about whether or not to pursue high-speed rail, he'd first examine a thorough feasibility study of the 84-mile project linking Tampa and Orlando.

It appears that study is this January 2011 report from the libertarian Reason Foundation. (Noah Pransky of Tampa Bay's 10 first reported the link.) The 24-page Reason Foundation report appears to mirror Scott's statement rejecting federal dollars this morning.

  • The report says Florida could be on the hook for construction cost overruns from $540 million to $3 billion, even though Florida officials have repeatedly said they would not sign a contract for the project unless private contractors assumed that risk. (Scott, in his comments Wednesday, only cited the high-end $3 billion figure).
  • It makes the same comparison to Amtrak's Acela line when saying the Florida rail rider projections are too rosy. Those projections ignore the other Amtrak rail service being used by more than 7 million riders in the northeast United States.
  • It says Florida could have to repay all $2.4 billion in federal funds if the project fails (Washington officials said they would be willing to negotiate protections into a final agreement)

The main author of the Reason report, Wendell Cox, regularly offers a skeptical view of rail. The work was overseen by Robert Poole, a Reason foundation director who served on Scott's transition team for transportation issues.

-- Aaron Sharockman

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