Alex Sink, Florida's elected chief financial officer who is running for governor in 2010, on Monday urged Federal Railroad Administration head Joseph Szabo to consider the state's request for $2.6 billion to develop a high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando.

Szabo has been among the federal officials stressing that Florida needed to step up to the plate to strengthen its own efforts for existing and new rail programs. Lawmakers passed a statewide rail policy and funding bill in a special session that ended last week.

"The Florida Legislature took a decided step in demonstrating Florida's commitment to rail with the passage of a comprehensive rail package," Sink wrote in a letter to Szabo. "The legislation authorizes the improvement and further development of an interstate rail transportation system. And our dedication and efforts will remain on the fast track."

Sink added that Florida's funding request for the shovel-ready Tampa-to-Orlando corridor "can be built faster than any other project in the country and would provide full service within five years."

Gov. Charlie Crist last week wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, asking him to approve Florida's application for high-speed rail funding.

Florida is among dozens of states seeking a portion of the $8 billion in federal stimulus funding set aside for high-speed rail projects around the country.

In addition to funding for the Tampa-to-Orlando train, Florida also has submitted an application for $30 million in federal funding for a project development and environmental study of a second phase of the high-speed rail corridor between Orlando and Miami.

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