Florida Trend's Floridian of the Year
Fla. Newsmakers of 2009
People who made an impact in business, economy, science, environment, government, education, sports, philanthropy, media and our fallen soldiers.
» Rail Transit / State Sen. Paula Dockery
State Sen. Paula Dockery. [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Win-win-win-win? Yes, say development interests and those who believe the state finally took some big steps toward creating alternatives to highways. But the enthusiasm isn't universal. On the way to the deal, state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland galvanized substantial opposition from those who felt the state was being railroaded. Dockery says she initially dug into the CSX deal because of its negative impacts on communities she represents, including Lakeland and Bartow. Over time she amassed data on track sales elsewhere and liability costs that convinced her the deal had been "poorly negotiated"and could be improved. Her dogged campaign stalled the deal for two years, with Dockery arguing it amounted to corporate welfare for CSX and a transit boondoggle for central Florida.
Dockery may have made few friends among transit advocates and economic development types in central Florida, but because of her efforts no lawmaker can say he walked into the deal unawares.
And the deal, though done, still leaves a question mark: The coming decades will prove whether 2009 marked the beginning of a transportation transformation in the state — or just the outlay of a lot of taxpayer dollars to shuffle the deck. — Mark Howard