Big progress on SunRail Project in Central Florida

Posted at July 2, 2011 by Comments Off

Governor Rick Scott has approved a public transportation project.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that the Florida governor approved a $1.28-billion rail project in Central Florida after recently rejecting federal money for a Tampa-Orlando high speed rail.

So who’s paying for it? The major funding partners for the project are FDOT, the Federal Transit Administration, Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Osceola counties and the city of Orlando.

What is it? SunRail is a commuter rail transit project that will run along a 61-mile stretch of existing rail freight tracks in Central Florida. The 31-mile first phase of SunRail will serve 12 stations, linking De Bary to Orlando. Phase II will serve 5 additional stations, north to DeLand and south to Poinciana. Service is expected to begin service in late 2013- early 2014.

Why is this important? FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad called SunRail a “judgment day” project. If it fails, it could stop future commuter trains from coming to Florida, he said, according to The Miami Herald.

How does Rick Scott reason voting for this and turning down federal money for the high-speed rail? On first hearing the news, most will be puzzled as this is the same governor who rejected the high-speed rail only a few months ago. The Herald article did a good job at shedding some light on the mystery:

Critics characterized the move as hypocritical in light of Scott’s high-speed rail decision and stated principle of limited government spending, but he defended it by saying SunRail was in the works before he became governor and was so far along he had no choice but to approve it.

“I don’t know that I would have made the decision to go forward with this if I had been around three or four years ago,” he said in St. Petersburg at the Florida Press Association/Florida Society of News Editors annual meeting. “I walked in with this set of facts.”

He said his attorneys told him he would likely lose in court if he was sued for killing the $1.28 billion, 61.5-mile project…

Scott insisted SunRail is different from high-speed rail because the state’s commitment is capped and Central Florida governments will be responsible for much of the ongoing financial obligations.

Ahhhah, so that’s why.

(Photo via cfnews13.com)

 Big progress on SunRail Project in Central Florida

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