ORLANDO-Gene Garfield, like the namesake cartoon cat, doesn’t give up easily. The Pompano Beach, FL entrepreneur is asking the Florida Department of Transportation to revive his planned $1.5 billion high-speed monorail venture. A formal hearing date hasn’t been set.

Garfield says he has new data that will keep the project alive. The state replies the only new data it needs is proof Garfield can come up with $15 million to fund initial startup costs of the 50-mile monorail. So far, the developer hasn’t been able to do that.

Garfield maintains all of the funding for the $1.5 billion enterprise is coming from private investors and taxpayers will not have to pick up a dime.

Because of the funding question, the state agency canceled a deal two weeks ago that would have given Garfield and his company, Bee Line Monorail, access to state rights-of-way land along the Bee Line Expressway. That concession is valued in the millions because it meant the entrepreneur wouldn’t have to deal with individual counties to obtain the same privilege.

Specifically, the state wants bonafide verification Garfield and his associates can pay company debts, write a financial plan and complete a readership study.

The planned monorail would move passengers in train cars magnetically levitated several inches above a single-beam track. The trains would travel at speeds of up to 300 mph. Walt Disney World and Orlando International Airport have had a similar monorail system for years. Garfield’s system would link the airport, Orlando’s tourist-heavy International Drive and Port Canaveral in Brevard County, 50 miles south of Downtown Orlando.

Garfield’s track record on the project isn’t good. He has missed several state deadlines since the venture was first announced in 1998. For example, the original timetable called for the monorail to be operating by 2002. A revised schedule has the train rolling by late 2004.

The whole idea behind the undertaking is to relieve vehicular traffic congestion, move individuals faster and safer, and improve the quality of air in Central Florida.

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