Florida high-speed rail Authority officials say it will be one year before the agency selects one of four proposals submitted Feb. 10 for the first phase of a statewide rail system. The 90-mile segment would provide service between Orlando and Tampa.

Florida voters mandated system development in November 2000. Gov. Jeb Bush (R) threatened to help kill it if it costs the state too much. "All we need is 1 1/ 2 to 2% of Florida's transportation budget," says Nazih Haddad, authority staff director.

The proposal asked for two routes from the Orlando airport: one directly to Disney World and one with a stop at the Orlando Convention Center. Disney opposes the convention center stop because it would kill any possibility of light rail in the area, says a spokeswoman. The state also asked that bidders invest in the project's operations and maintenance. State and federal funds would be used to build the line.

Tallahassee-based Global Rail Consortium, led by ARCADIS and Korea Railroad Technical Corp., submitted a proposal with $2.4 billion in public sector infrastructure costs and $1.7 billion in private investment for operations and rail cars. "There is a lot of confusion about the numbers," says Robert Stevens, director of infrastructure for ARCADIS. The various private proposals represent differing amounts of service, he says. Global Rail's proposal is for 17 electric trains. Click here to view image

Fluor-Bombardier proposed $2.3 billion in public investment and $1.3 billion in private funds. The state would receive an estimated $2.1 billion in excess toll revenue, says David Gedney, executive director of the Tampa-based team.

Marietta-based Georgia Monorail Consortium's proposal included public investment of up to $644 million, with a private sector investment of up to $2 billion. A proposal by ET3.com Inc., Crystal River, Fla., proposed an evacuated tube system at a total cost of $1.2 billion.