I.V. exclusive: Sharpe challenges Scott

Hillsborough commissioner challenges Scott to rethink high-speed rail

Dear Governor Scott,

To say I am disappointed in your decision to reject federal funding for the Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail connection is an understatement.  I understand you have a very difficult job to do and recognize your commitment to balancing our state budget.  That said, while I am not asking you to reconsider your decision, I am requesting that you demonstrate through strength of reason and logic the merits of your conclusions. 

Governor, your decision could actually serve as a catalyst to enhance this project by forcing the hand of local governments and the business community to craft a package that will far exceed expectations and make Florida the nation’s leader in a modern transportation system. 

Would you agree to host a one day business summit and allow both sides to make their strongest cases, and in the spirit of the Wharton School of Business, force a discussion to vet this project based solely on its merits and not ideology?  The magnitude of this project requires a business decision that demands a rigorous business review.  You could set the precedent for all future projects and put our state on the path to economic recovery.       

Business, community and political leaders along the critical I-4 corridor have been working together to tackle the issue of deficient and failed roads in our region.  We have tens of billions of dollars in failed roads and will never be able to widen enough roads to solve this problem.  This collaborative effort has begun to lay the foundation for achieving 700,000 jobs in seven years as you have challenged.   

Governor, I am well aware of your concerns and appreciate the business acumen you have brought to this issue.  Politicians throughout history have signed on to bad deals which have left taxpayers on the hook.  Yet fear of failure or concern for risks should not impede us from making the hard call to forge ahead, nor doubt the management principles that your leadership team can bring toward making this a project a historic success for Florida.  America was built by brave pioneers, and that spirit will continue to guide Florida into the next millennium. 

Respectfully,

Mark Sharpe

Mark Sharpe (R) is one of Hillsborough County’s at-large county commissioners. E-mail him at: msharpe1776@gmail.com

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12 Responses to “I.V. exclusive: Sharpe challenges Scott”

  1. cingram Says:

    Note to readers:

    While I applaud Governor Scott’s efforts in rejecting the deficit financed federal tranportation dollars based on several key arguments

    1) First and foremost is the point that “we don’t have the money.” Washington’s failure to control spending has put our children’s future at risk. We’re currently $14+ trillion in debt and we’re still spending. While entitlement reform is the primary way to control spending, we’ve got to start somewhere to include a $2+ billion train.

    2) The train as proposed needs work. It has too many stops (so it won’t be “high-speed”), the cost to riders is too high (it would cost a family of four $120 to get to Disney World and then they’d be stuck unless they spend more money on a cab, rental car, or bus), it doesn’t make a stop at Tampa International Airport or the Gulf beaches in Pinellas.

    3) The state may be on the hook for cost-overruns and other false projections.

    Ultimately, a train (if done right) may be a good idea, but the current project proposal is extremely flawed, and the fact that we don’t have the money should suggest we have no business spending money on this costly project.

    However, Mark Sharpe’s argument that a respectful exchange of ideas with the governor and affected communities cannot hurt.

    Irreverent View welcomes the exchange of ideas, the free flow of information, and the exposure of different viewpoints to our readers.

    We also like Mark Sharpe. While we may disagree with him on rail, he’s a good man with a sound mind and a passion for his job.

    Chris Ingram

  2. Jim Pease Says:

    Did you see the back and forth ‘tween Mark and Tony Buntyn on Tony’s facebook page? It was the first time that I was glad I had an FB account.

  3. Sid Says:

    Go Governor!
    The Train people are asking to borrow money we don’t have from countries we don’t like to build a train we won’t ride.
    TriRail requires a $120.00 taxpayer subsidy for every single round trip, 24/7.

    Sid

  4. Joe Cipriano Says:

    #1 This train is inefficient as far as cost, both for the construction and the fare. I live in Port Richey, and the cost for a family of 4 to travel round trip to Disney world via Little Rd (CR 1), SR 54, I-75, and I-4, a total of under 110 miles, figuring gasoline prices at $3.10/gal, is less than $34.10 total. This also allows us to travel around the Orlando area without restriction for merely the cost of gas, no cabs, busses, etc. A savings of $85.90, and that doesn’t even take into account the cost of travel to Tampa to get to the train! Travel for people in Tampa proper would be less costly and time consuming than it would be for me.

    #2 Why anyone from Tampa would want to support this project is beyond me. It is obviously a project meant to bring business to Orlando, which has no dearth of tax ratables or jobs, where Tampa and the surrounding area could use a boost to business.

    #3 The stops along the way, as Chris mentioned, would prevent the train from becoming truly high speed.
    From the FLHSR website:
    HSR Connections; Passengers will connect to high speed trains at stations in Tampa, Lakeland, Walt Disney World resorts, International Drive and Orlando International Airport. Each of these stations will have parking facilities, rental cars, plus bus, light rail or commuter rail transit connections.
    While this sounds all rosy, the fact is that there cannot be any cost savings to the “commuter”, a term I use loosely, due to the fact that this can only be construed as a ploy to get people to Disney, nor do I see any true time savings. Having to get the train up to speed, then slow down to stop at a station to load and unload passengers, then start the whole cycle over again, is time consuming. Getting in a car or even a bus, and going directly to Orlando would be less tedious in my eyes. Plus, there is the added expense of getting to and from the station. While I applaud the planners for providing access to “parking facilities, rental cars, plus bus, light rail or commuter rail transit connections”, it will only cost riders of this train more to get to where they really need to go.
    #4 COST OVERRUNS!! Does anyone remember the last time a project of this size came in on budget? How about the last time the Federal Government funded anything that was cost effective, and had all costs figured in the original proposal? We are going to be on the hook for millions of dollars in cost overruns, time delays in construction due to weather, and any other thing they can think of to charge to this project. I can see no real good coming from this and am totally against it.

  5. Brian Blair Says:

    I believe that Governor Scott made a wise decision for many of the reasons that were pointed out during the quest for “Light Rail” here in Hillsborough County. The Governor as reported said that he was going to look at this decision objectively – he did his homework and realized that “High Speed Rail” (when you count all the stops, it’s not as “High Speed” as reported by most media)was a bad economic decision for the state of Florida. I applaud the Governors leadership. We don’t build trains in FL, we have the highest surplus of housing in modern History, so I question where all of the reported jobs would come from? Rail is 19th century technology in the 21st Century and oh by the way; Washington can not afford to pay it’s bills now with OUR money — the reported Billions of “free dollars” from the Fed is not free. I applaud those that commented prior to this message; many people are doing their homework. For more information about rail,please visit the “NoTaxForTrax” website if you have not done so already.

  6. Bob Hagaman Says:

    All of the arguments for “High Speed rail” skip the most important factors.

    They are utilization and cost overruns that always occur in government projects.

    please add your analysis of these issues when pointing out the few obvious advantages.

  7. Rouge Republican Says:

    Tax and spend polititans on both sides haven’t gotten the message, “STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DON’T HAVE!”
    The only jobs the Pork chuchu will create are union, Government jobs with big salaries and benefits that the tax payers can’t afford. Governor Scott has it right! Go Governor Scott.

  8. GenEarly Says:

    “Governor, your decision could actually serve as a catalyst to enhance this project by forcing the hand of local governments and the business community to craft a package that will far exceed expectations and make Florida the nation’s leader in a modern transportation system.”
    Soo Markie Boy Where’s YOUR money? Oh you just want to waste Hillsborough County Money? Fine with me I’m in Pinellas. Just don’t expect Fl State (My) tax dollars to support Your RINO schemes.

  9. Scoop Says:

    Commissoner Sharpe,
    Also-ran Josh Burgin received a large portion of the vote against you based on his no rail stance. As intelligent as you are can you not see that this train is not worth the cost. Would you ride it to Disney? I can see your answer, “Well, I had other committments and it did not work in with my schedule to use the rail.”
    It doesn’t work Commissioner. We are not in Europe. Get the message and be smart.
    I will support a train when private business moves in and says this is a profit maker let’s go and make it happen. It won’t happen because all business plans, except government one, show it can and will not make money.
    In Europe rail without its taxpayer money would also be out of business. C’mon Commissioner you a smart man, tell those business people to suck a lolly.

  10. poor Mark... Says:

    Sharpe just doesn’t get it.He never has and he never will.

  11. Dobie Says:

    Lets see now—-you ride the train to Orlando then rent a car or take a bus to your destination and then do it in reverse to get back to Tampa. Driving my car would take about a half hour longer without all the inconvience.

    Guess what my option would be?

  12. Jan Says:

    For the last five or six yers, I have been to Orlando several times a year, and never have I wished for a high speed anything to get me there and back. Ditto for any and all of the people with whom I traveled.

    As for the money angle, we are broke. As for the jobs it would create, it most likely would mean union labor from other states would converge on Florida. Afterwards, when the one-time money is gone, the ongoing upkeep would be HUGE. Again, we are broke. Besides, no other such trains have ever been profitable. Foget about it.

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