On Wednesday, Tampa, Fla.-based ConnectUs Inc. announced that it and its coalition of business, labor and environmental groups had sent letters to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of Florida’s application seeking $30 million for the Preliminary Engineering and NEPA Environmental studies for the Orlando-Miami corridor.
“This is the first demonstration of the advantages of working together,” said ConnectUS President Ed Turanchik. “We have organizations from around the state supporting the Florida Department of Transportation’s Orlando-Miami application. We all get the big picture and will continue to work together to see it happen.”
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) decided last week to split the Tampa-Orlando-Miami project into two separate applications in order to comply with federal funding criteria. Wednesday’s application is under Track 1B and is limited to initial engineering and environmental studies for the Orlando-Miami corridor. FDOT will submit a Track 2 application on Oct. 2 for $2.5 billion for the Orlando-Tampa corridor.
The Orlando-Miami study will look at two specific corridors. The first would run from Orlando International Airport along the Beach Line to I-95 and would provide service to Cocoa Beach and Melbourne plus south Florida. The second alignment would run from Orlando International Airport along the Florida Turnpike to Ft. Pierce and then to South Florida. Both alignment options would serve West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and end in Miami at the Miami Intermodal Center.
ConnectUs is a Florida not-for-profit corporation organized for the purpose of supporting Florida’s application for high-speed-rail funds from the federal government. The organization was launched on August 18, 2009 and in less than five days has more than 1,000 individual members.