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Monday, 30 December 2013 11:30cat

Florida SunRail Phase 1 Almost Completed

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SunRail will run for 62 miles and pass through 17 stations in Phase 2 is completed SunRail will run for 62 miles and pass through 17 stations in Phase 2 is completed SunRail

Phase 1 of the Central Florida SunRail project is almost finished and service on the route will begin once all 12 stations are completed.  Construction began on the 32-mile route connecting Volusia County to Orlando in January 2012.  The rail line is expected to cost $615 million to construct and $432 million to buy the right of way and tracks.  The federal government, the state of Florida, and the three counties that the rail line passes through are financing SunRail.  The federal government is paying for half of the project through a federal transit “New Starts” grant, and the state of Florida and the counties will each par for 25% of the project.  SunRail was originally approved in July 2007, and it took over four years to plan the route and receive funding.  This period included a six-month freeze on all contracts and a legislative review ordered by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

While Phase 1 is nearly completed, much doubt remains about the completion of the second phase.  Currently federal money that is supposed to fund the second half of the project is suspended due to the Washington budget issues.  Phase 2 would extend the line to 17 stations and 62 miles in total.  Many Central Florida business owners are heading to Washington D.C. to voice support for the project and help ensure the remaining federal funding is given to SunRail.  The rail line is expected to create many jobs not only during its construction, but once it opens for service as well.  Hotels are buying land near the line and retail stores are gambling on the success of the transportation system by opening shops near the train stations.

With the population of three counties SunRail passes through expected to increase by more than 70% by 2030, Phase 2 is paramount to the overall success of the line.  Phase 2 will have the highest ridership on the route.  Overall, SunRail will be the second largest rail line in Florida.

Sources: Tampa Bay Times

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