Traffic congestion is a growing concern for those who live, work and visit Central Florida. That’s why the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), in cooperation with the federal government and local officials in Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Osceola counties and the city of Orlando, is advancing SunRail, a commuter rail transit project that will run along a 61-mile stretch of existing freight rail tracks in the four-county area.
The 32-mile first phase of SunRail, serving 12 stations and linking DeBary to Orlando, will be operational by 2014. This segment includes stations in DeBary, Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Winter Park, Florida Hospital, LYNX Central Station, Church Street, Orlando Health/Amtrak, and Sand Lake Road. By 2016, extended service is planned for stations at Meadow Woods, Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee Amtrak and Poinciana Industrial Park, as well as a new northern terminus at the DeLand Amtrak station.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is providing program management services to FDOT in support of the SunRail development, including a senior manager serving as SunRail’s chief operating officer throughout the development process. The firm is also responsible for all safety and security planning and design services.
When fully operational, SunRail is expected to carry as many passengers as one lane of the I-4 expressway during peak travel periods. FTA projections show opening day ridership for the 31-mile initial operating segment at approximately 4,300 passenger trips per day, escalating to 7,400 trips by 2030.
The cost for Phase 1 and 2 of SunRail is approximately $615 million in year-of-expenditure dollars. Of that, it is expected that the federal government will pay 50%, the state 25% and local governments in the four counties apportioning the remaining 25%. Once open, Sun-Rail will receive an allocation of federal funds each year. FDOT is picking up the remaining O&M costs that are not covered by revenues for the first seven years. After that, local governments will be responsible for O&M expenditures.
Aside from increasing mobility in the greater Orlando area, the SunRail system is intended to establish the spine of a regional rail network that can be expanded to serve other areas of the state. It is also expected to encourage and stimulate transit-oriented development around station areas, with the potential for billions of dollars in additional economic benefit to local communities.