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Volusia on track to support train

By JAMES MILLER

Staff Writer

Last update: July 07, 2005

The Volusia County Council could jump to the other side of the tracks today.

With some council members saying it's the way of the future, Volusia is poised to be the first county to pledge dollars -- 11.7 million of them -- to a long-discussed commuter rail system connecting DeBary, downtown Orlando and Osceola County.

Orange County -- which would bear the greatest cost locally -- has struggled with the issue in recent weeks. But in Volusia, sentiment was clear leading up to the council's meeting today in DeLand.

Full article - http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJour...EAD04070705.htm

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I'm not familiar with the CSX tracks, but would the proposed commuter rail service Sanford-Orlando International? If so, that would be a HUGE boost for that growing airport, and would provide a service that OIA can't match. If Seminole could get the trains near the airport, I can't see why they wouldn't want to support the rail as well.

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hello-- i just joined.

commuter rail will really help retail centers in winter parkand downtown orlando and will undoubtedly create new ones along the corridor.

I think they should make the Lynx station larger and move the Amtrak station south of downtown into it. I took Amtrak from Chicago to Montana via Minn.-St. Paul and the Amtrak station there, believe it or not, was in a run down part of town between the two cities- very disappointing.

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Orange's support for train plan warms

By Scott Powers

Sentinel Staff Writer

July 13, 2005

The Central Florida commuter-train plan gained momentum Tuesday as Orange County commissioners showed interest in some of the side benefits of the plan, setting the stage for a decisive vote next month.

If the system gets developed, a train could start carrying commuters between DeBary in southern Volusia County and Orlando by 2009, and between Orlando and Poinciana in Osceola County by 2011. There would be up to 15 stations.

Orange commissioners have never been sold on the idea that Orange County residents would ride the train enough to make it worth the $44 million the state wants from the county, and last month several criticized the idea.

But Tuesday they focused on other benefits of the proposal, including the prospect that freight trains would have to be routed around greater Orlando to make room for commuter trains.

No vote was taken Tuesday, and none was planned until August. But after receiving assurances about the freight trains from George Gilhooley, District 5 secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty said he was encouraged the county may sign on.

"I'm optimistic that we're moving in the right direction," Crotty said.

Gilhooley said the state needs all four counties to commit this summer or it cannot start developing the system. Volusia County committed last week, and state officials are expecting support from Seminole and Osceola counties in the next couple of weeks.

Under the plan, federal and state governments would pick up 75 percent of the estimated $473 million cost.

The state needs the four counties to pay the rest, as well as to split the operating deficits that could run $5 million a year.

Gilhooley said the state intends to bear the full cost of gaining control of the CSX tracks through Central Florida from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. With that control, the state could route most or all freight trains to either go through Ocala or to travel at night.

"The people in my district are a bit skeptical until you mention we're going to move freight," said Commissioner Bill Segal, who represents northeast Orange County. "And then they perk up."

Commissioners also focused on train service to a station near Sand Lake Road, which Crotty hopes might eventually receive light-rail trains running east and west between Orlando International Airport and International Drive.

Light-rail trains are smaller, resembling trolleys, and run on dedicated tracks but can run more frequently and carry more riders.

Orange County killed a light-rail plan in 1999, but Crotty and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are contemplating a new plan.

"That's probably a discussion for a later day," Crotty said.

"I think what's important is that there be a starting place relative to rail transit, and this seems to be the most logical starting place."

Scott Powers can be reached at 407-420-5441

or [email protected]

Copyright

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EDITORIAL

Ready to ride

Our position: It's encouraging that Crotty and commissioners are seeing the benefits of a train.

Posted July 14, 2005

In a most welcome about-face, Orange County commissioners went from panning to praising a proposed commuter train that would roughly parallel Interstate 4, bridging four Central Florida counties.

Though commissioners aren't expected to commit the county's $44 million share of the $473.5 million project until next month, they did seem quite receptive to details that were provided Tuesday by state transportation officials. In fact, Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty -- who last month wrongly speculated that a tax increase might be needed for the system -- even talked about expanding operating hours to accommodate evening events in downtown Orlando.

After stalling at the start, Orange County elected officials finally seem to be on the right track.

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Is he adding a station at Sand Lake Road?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If there is a Sand Lake station, even though I live in the UCF area, I can see my (typical suburban) family and I taking the train from downtown to the I-Drive area just for kicks. :)

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This is a map of the proposed Sand Lake Road station (in red), at Sand Lake and Orange Avenue. Note that the top of the map is the east direction and not north.

sandlakestation0kn.jpg

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Yes, it is. It's about halfway between the Florida Mall and OIA.

Keep in mind that this commuter rail is proposed to run along existing CSX tracks, of which there are none near I-Drive.

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This is the proposed route map, with intermodal stations at Lynx Central Station and at Sand Lake Road (for future light rail connection to MCO and I-Drive). The initial operating segment is highlighted in purple:

commuterrailroute3gk.jpg

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This is the proposed route map, with intermodal stations at Lynx Central Station and at Sand Lake Road (for future light rail connection to MCO and I-Drive). The initial operating segment is highlighted in purple:

commuterrailroute3gk.jpg

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not to shoot down Orlando's only viable option for mass transit or sound like a NIMBY but this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what Orlando needs IMO. Realistically ask yourselves based on the map of the first leg, how many times would any of you use this. Let's just say for example you take the train to Altamonte Springs, then what? Get on a LYNX bus, cab, walk? Orlando and the surrounding areas are to spread out. There is not a single stop on that map, with the exception of Winter Park and Florida Hospital that lends itself to walking distance from somewhere you would really want to end up. IMO this has been the downfall of all major proposals that have been set forth along the I-4 corridor. The existing tracks for all intent and purpose were designed to move freight not people. This just seems like the cheapest way to say that we did something. Don't get me wrong I want something done just as much as anyone, but i refuse to jump on the bandwagon just because nothing better is being proposed. Just my opinion.

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Totally agree. If a light rail is the only viable option, I'd rather wait to see that happen rather than not wait and see a commuter rail go up with problems. Central florida is spread out and that's a problem for public transit. I see a light rail from int. drive(convention) to downtown, to OIA, to winterpark, and maybe a major hospital as a viable option. All in all, these stops need to be in walking distance from major landmarks.

If buses can close the gap, a link from the train is not a bad idea. It just has to flow really smooth for it to work.

Edited by AirJay78

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I understand what you mean, orlandonative, but this is how I see it.

One of the main purposes of commuter rail is to transport, well, commuters into and out of the city center from suburbia. The exclusive right of way of commuter rail and limited number of stops on the rail line allows the trains to travel across town much faster than light rail, subways, or buses. But since commuter rail is heavy rail, you can't expect its railroad tracks to make a lot of directional changes to wind around obstacles in order to get to such locations as I-Drive. Obtaining the right of way to do so would be extremely expensive, displace many residents, and might require the tracks to be elevated, which adds to the cost and complexity, as well as possibly being an eyesore.

That is why we have light rail. Okay, it might be a while before we get it, but light rail is what will branch off and help to circulate riders to more pedestrian friendly areas of town. This is what will travel up and down I-Drive and connect the convention center to OIA and downtown. If you've ever ridden on light rail, you'll know that it can take a long time to travel relatively short distances due to the frequent traffic and station stops. Taking light rail from the Orange County Convention Center to Winter Park might actually be slower than sitting through rush hour traffic on I-4. That's where commuter rail comes in.

If you wanted to get from Winter Park to I-Drive, you would hop on the commuter rail to the Sand Lake Intermodal Station and transfer to light rail, making your trip much quicker.

Another thing to consider is that light rail users typically are pedestrians who walk to the station, get on the train, and walk to their destination after getting off. With commuter rail, suburban stations usually feature massive parking lots so that people can drive from their neighborhood to the station, park, and have a relaxing commute to work without having to deal with rush hour traffic. If they don't drive, they might take a bus, get dropped off, or take a bike to get to the station. So to answer your concerns about not being able to walk to where you want to go, this is often how it works with commuter rail away from the city center.

With Orlando being so sprawled out, a massive light rail system (which is far off in the future) is not the end all solution to our mass transit needs. It would simply take too long to get anywhere. That is why a combination of light, commuter, and high-speed rail is necessary to move people quickly and efficiently around our metropolis.

Don't forget that in order to get the extensive mass transist system that I think we all want, you have to start somewhere. This is the first step, and extremely important in promoting the use of rail in Central Florida.

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Like a light rail central to i drive and downtown.... then commuter rail on a longer way from osceola to winter park or further up.... connecting both along the way... then high speed rail across cities in Florida (tampa, miami, etc)... and buses to connect the inconviniences... I see that working

now budget wise... I have no idea :blush:

Edited by AirJay78

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This proposed commuter rail is not a replacement for light rail by any means, rather it will be a complimentary system.

Right now the projected timeline is for construction on the first leg to begin in 2007 and be completed in 2009. Construction on the southern leg would begin in 2009 and be completed in 2011.

The North-South Light Rail line proposal is still under consideration, and the first spur route of the system would go from I-Drive to OIA, with several alternative routes currently being studied.

This is a map of the first two portions of commuter rail (purple), north-south light rail (greenish), and the I-Drive circulator (yellow):

railmap3sl.jpg

And here's a map of the alternative routes being studied to connect I-Drive to OIA:

alternatives9mh.jpg

Imagine all of these mass transit methods being used together along with Lynx and Lymmo. I think that's a pretty good start to public transit in Orlando.

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Irregardless of the benefit of a future mode of travel for people to choose in Commuter Rail, we'll need Commuter Rail as mitigation during the construction of I-4 when it goes into high gear in 2009--- not to mention the relocation of the frieght trains as an added benefit. This is a great project and bus routes will need to be re-thought to get people to their final destination in order to support this alternative to I-4.

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The distinction between commuter and light rail has been clearly defined. Just as many others have stated this would not be a substitute for driving to do errands or take shopping trips, thats the niche that light rail would occupy. But as far as ridership, if I live in Lake Mary, Longwood or Altamonte and work downtown I would much rather park and take the train to work than fight I-4 traffic. I think 9000 daily ridership estimate is a conservative figure. With the I-4 widening project starting at the same time as the commuter rail would go into service, I think it's realistic that more than 9000 people will find it more convenient to take the train than deal with a John Young/I-4 interchange type of mess that would stretch from Altamonte to downtown. I can not imagine the chaos there will be in a few years if they start the I-4 widening project with no other options for North-South commuting besides ancillary roads like 17-92 and 441. It will probaly take over an hour to get from south Seminole county to downtown and that's being realistic. For that reason alone commuter rail balances out any negatives associated with it.

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commuter garages-- that's integral to the system.

when I lived near Casselberry, I worked in Tavares and would drive up 441 via 414 or 436 thru Apopka. 1 hour drive. the whole time I would see the freight line parallelling 441 thinking how nice it would be to ride a train instead-- thats what residents in DeBary, Deltona, Sanford, Lake Mary, Poinciana, and Kissimmee are saying every day-- and Poinciana is growing super fast.

I guarantee you that wherever these stations go, urban redevelopment will follow-- Winter Park will get a new station where Amtrak currently is (I assume thats where it will go); but I'm thinking Altamonte-- I think the tracks are near 427 which is where the original old part of town/city hall is-- they just redid 427 recently-- this area will get a real boost.

Orange Ave from Fla Hosp to ORMC to Edgewood at Sand Lake Road will also get a big boost.

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