At an appearance in Tampa on January 28, 2010, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced that Florida would receive a grant of $1.25 billion to support a proposed high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. The state had applied for $2.5 billion out of a total of $8 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail.
Aside from Vice President Biden's comment that the grant was a “down payment,” the Florida Department of Transportation has yet to receive instructions on how the funds will be spent. Assistant Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault told a reporter, “We haven't gotten any guidance yet on the $1.25 billion and what that's going to do for us. You heard Vice President Joe Biden say this was a ‘down payment' so there may be a plan they haven't shared with us. There may be other pots of money they plan to give us. Once we have that, we'll have a better idea of where we go from here.”
State officials indicated that the project will create 2,300 jobs. Construction could begin as soon as early 2011, and the project could be up and running in early 2014.
Only California, which will receive $2.25 billion for a rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, took a bigger share of the federal funding.
The status of other funding requests, including $270 million for Atlantic Coast Amtrak passenger service and $268 million to buy existing freight track for the SunRail project, was uncertain as of the January 28 announcement. State officials were unclear as to when or where they would find the remaining $1.3 billion needed to fund the Tampa-Orlando rail line, aside from the general expectation of more federal funding in the future.