Tuesday, December 01, 2009

SunRail opponent: “I’m not anti-commuter rail”

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Florida State Sen. Paula Dockery, who is running for governor next year, continues to oppose the proposed 61.5-mile SunRail project envisioned for Orange County, with Orlando as its hub. But she emphasizes her objections as fiscal ones protecting the state’s taxpayers and not an anti-rail stance in itself.

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"I am not anti-commuter rail," Dockery said at a recent meeting of the Winter Park City Commission. "In fact, I probably like mass transit more than many others."

Dockery, a Republican, said the state is simply paying the too much money, about $10 million per mile, for the 61.5 miles of right-of-way that SunRail requires. She compared that to a recent agreement CSX reached with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts advancing MBTA passenger rail service to Worcester, Mass. "Whyis Florida paying $10.5 million a mile and Massachusetts is paying $1.5 million a mile?" she asked.

"I was told this is a done deal, sit down, and shut up," she said, defending her leadership role in opposing the SunRail plan. But she added, "We never intended to try to stop a commuter rail project ... I was trying to cut a good deal for the people of Florida."