LaHood touts Florida railway

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"The first 32-mile segment of the 61-mile system is scheduled for completion in 2014, and when SunRail opens for business, area residents will be able to skip daily traffic snarls, spend less of their hard-earned income on gas, reduce the region's tailpipe emissions and help cut America's dependence on expensive foreign oil," he continued.

As proponents in central Florida did when Scott wavered on the long-sought project, LaHood touted the job-creation potential of the railway. SunRail will create 11,000 jobs during construction and 150,000 jobs after it is up and running, LaHood said, all in a swing state that has been racked with high employment.

"In a region that's been hit hard by tough economic times, those jobs are a welcome blessing," he said.

Transportation officials in Washington and Florida had hoped to make the SunRail trains connect to the proposed Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail that Scott killed shortly after he took office. The train was envisioned as the centerpiece of a nationwide network of railways, but Scott joined two other newly elected governors in rejecting money from the Obama administration to build them.