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Florida Rail Transit | Intercity Rail | Florida High Speed Rail


KendallKid

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To quote CentralFloridaRail.com:

"The project is currently in the Environmental Assessment (EA) phase of project development. The EA phase will will provide the results of more detailed environmental analyses of the locally preferred alternative (LPA) and initial operating Segment (IOS). The EA, expected to be finalized in Fall 2005, is followed by Preliminary Engineering, Final Design, Construction, and Operation. Final design is expected to begin in early 2006 and operations to begin in 2009."

The portion of the funding that will not be taken care of by the feds will be split by the four counties the rail line will service.

For more information, visit CFRail.com.

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I dont think the 2009 date is set in stone. Heres why. How much is the area going to invest in commuter rail? Have they finished doing any preliminary ridership analysis? Environmental impact studies? Have they purchased right of way? These "details" delay these things. Why else would the metrorail,an existing sytem with local funding, take until 2014 to be complete where as the Orlando line be estimated at 2009. I think that 2009 date is somewhat ambitious and not likely.

You have to keep these systems in perspective. Commuter rail runs on existing railroad tracks, so the construction timetable is considerably shorter and costs are cheaper than building a heavy rail line from scratch.

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You have to keep these systems in perspective. Commuter rail runs on existing railroad tracks, so the construction timetable is considerably shorter and costs are cheaper than building a heavy rail line from scratch.

Well, it that mainly depends upon the design. The TTA commuter rail system, which is a 35 mile line built on existing rail lines, is now up to close to $1billion. It started as a $100M line but unforseen design issues, the rising cost of the land, and huge prices increases added to the project because the freight lines have decided to get as much for their land as possible, have pushed the costs of that line up to the point to where they are having a very difficult time getting the Feds to approve it. It originally was planned to open in 2001 (planning started in 1994) but just last week, the Feds pushed it back another year, so the earliest it could possibly start construction is late 2007. And this is for a line that has been fully designed, there are rail cars on order for it, and is only wating for federal money.

The key to understanding when the Orlando system might see the light of day, is to look for a date as to when they expect to receive a "Record of Decision" from the FTA. Nothing will happen until that date is reached and the Feds actually say yes. The TTA system in Raleigh has had this decision date delayed for several years now and as a result have to now get the system qualified under new rules that went into effect this year that make it even tougher to receive federal funds. The big issue here is ridership and cost/rider/year.

Its not as easy as you think, because the federal government is very good at slowing these things down greatly.

There is another commuter rail line proposed in Charlotte (not to be confused with the light rail being constructed there now) that is only $240M. It will be built on a very unused freight line, run for 35 miles, and have 12 stations. It is fairly well funded locally because the state and local transit tax are paying 50% of the cost and it will be one of the lines terminating at the new High Speed Rail multimodal station (South East High Speed Rail) being built in downtown Charlotte. But even though this is a high profile project with a lot of support it does not have a "Record of Decision" date until October 2006 even though this line has been in the planning stages since 1999. These things take a long time.

Schedules on opening dates put forth by local transit officials are meaningless until that "Record of Decision" date is met and the system gets a "yes" from the FTA.

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Well, it that mainly depends upon the design. The TTA commuter rail system, which is a 35 mile line built on existing rail lines, is now up to close to $1billion. It started as a $100M line but unforseen design issues, the rising cost of the land, and huge prices increases added to the project because the freight lines have decided to get as much for their land as possible, have pushed the costs of that line up to the point to where they are having a very difficult time getting the Feds to approve it. It originally was planned to open in 2001 (planning started in 1994) but just last week, the Feds pushed it back another year, so the earliest it could possibly start construction is late 2007. And this is for a line that has been fully designed, there are rail cars on order for it, and is only wating for federal money.

The key to understanding when the Orlando system might see the light of day, is to look for a date as to when they expect to receive a "Record of Decision" from the FTA. Nothing will happen until that date is reached and the Feds actually say yes. The TTA system in Raleigh has had this decision date delayed for several years now and as a result have to now get the system qualified under new rules that went into effect this year that make it even tougher to receive federal funds. The big issue here is ridership and cost/rider/year.

Its not as easy as you think, because the federal government is very good at slowing these things down greatly.

There is another commuter rail line proposed in Charlotte (not to be confused with the light rail being constructed there now) that is only $240M. It will be built on a very unused freight line, run for 35 miles, and have 12 stations. It is fairly well funded locally because the state and local transit tax are paying 50% of the cost and it will be one of the lines terminating at the new High Speed Rail multimodal station (South East High Speed Rail) being built in downtown Charlotte. But even though this is a high profile project with a lot of support it does not have a "Record of Decision" date until October 2006 even though this line has been in the planning stages since 1999. These things take a long time.

Schedules on opening dates put forth by local transit officials are meaningless until that "Record of Decision" date is met and the system gets a "yes" from the FTA.

You're right, but from what I've read, the TTA system includes a lot of "Bells and Whistles" that have jacked up the costs. At this point, I'm not sure what's going to down with the Orlando line (the Orlando forumers could provide you with more detail), but I do know the Nashville line should be an example to everyone of how to quickly put together an affordable commuter rail plan.

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You're right, but from what I've read, the TTA system includes a lot of "Bells and Whistles" that have jacked up the costs. At this point, I'm not sure what's going to down with the Orlando line (the Orlando forumers could provide you with more detail), but I do know the Nashville line should be an example to everyone of how to quickly put together an affordable commuter rail plan.

Actually it is in danger of being mothballed because the expected federal funding did not come in, and the local banks are balking at loaning the system the money to make up the shortfall. They are now putting together a plan to stop construction so that it is safe, and putting the project on hold for the foreseeable future.

I agree it was an incredibly cheap system to build, but it has very basic stations, and they got their trains "used" for free. As a result, they did not need to go through the New Starts process as systems costing less than $75M are exempted from the process and instead congress will appropriate the money directly (if the local congressmen want to spend their political capital on this) Even with that, its future now seems to be uncertain.

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The Nashville system should still serve as a prime example that should be followed. The only negative I see is, instead of waiting for federal funding, Nashville should find a way to pay for the rest on its own.

None of these cities, especially ones with low levels of population density, such as Raliegh, should be going all out on commuter rail or any form of rail. Imo, its best to start a cheaper, but effective system and build up ridership, then to invest millions, fail and have mass transit viewed negatively from that point on. Jacksonville's skyway is a prime example of not to invest $400 million on a project that only covers 2.5 miles. For the cost, we could have had a much more effective and expansive form of rail stretching into neighborhoods and destination points outside of downtown.

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Actually that is why the very tough rules of the New Start program were put in place. The failed Jacksonville Skyway and the Burlington Vt. commuter rail system (which closed in less than 2 years) are cited by the Feds as being a big waste of federal money and why they had to put in place the draconian approach to approving new systems. (New Starts Program) Both systems gave transit critics a lot of ammunition as to why transit spending is a big waste of public money.

My guess is that a 60 mile system that will traverse through the Orlando area is going to be quite expensive once it is fully designed out, and it is going to face the same challenges as the RDU system. Both areas suffer from extensive sprawl and spread out employment centers which will make putting in a new rail line a big challenge both from a cost and design standpoint.

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The good thing for Orlando's system is the existing rail line runs through the denser areas of the metro and is within walking distance to several high destination points. I believe its also being phased. The metro being just about as twice as dense than typical land-locked southern metros like Raliegh and Nashville, while only being served by one congested interstate highway also plays into its favor. The fact that the Feds approved a light rail line for Orlando in the late 1990's should be a benefit as well. All 4 counties are also on board and are willing to contribute their fair share of funds, which didn't happen with the original light rail system. Its going to be a challenge, but its got some things going for it that will most likely make it a success over some of the systems being proposed in other cities.

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What happened to the light rail line it Orlando as it appears to have never been built.
Basically, the Fed and State governments agreed to pay 80% of the costs and Orange County ended up backing out of pay their share of 20% at the last minute in a close vote.

What in the world does land locked mean to a city like Orlando vs Raleigh. LOL

You put to much into my mention of "land-locked". Let me explain. Typically coastal or waterfront cities in the US tend to be denser than landlocked ones. The south is no exception to the rule. While Orlando isn't one of the densest cities in the south, if you subtract the South's coastal and port cities it is. Both Orlando and Raliegh are landlocked southern cities and attempting to build commuter rail lines. However, metro Orlando is twice as dense, has already been approved for light rail at one point and the planned system will use an existing line that travels through the core (denser areas of a denser metro) areas of town. On the other hand, TTA's route seems to be more questionable and is in a more sprawled region.

Earlier you made a statement in an attempt to relate the two as if it were an apples to apples comparison. I just called out some issues that may help Orlando avoid the problems that TTA is going through.

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Basically, the Fed and State governments agreed to pay 80% of the costs and Orange County ended up backing out of pay their share of 20% at the last minute in a close vote.

You put to much into my mention of "land-locked". Let me explain. Typically coastal or waterfront cities in the US tend to be denser than landlocked ones. The south is no exception to the rule. While Orlando isn't one of the densest cities in the south, if you subtract the South's coastal and port cities it is. Both Orlando and Raliegh are landlocked southern cities and attempting to build commuter rail lines. However, metro Orlando is twice as dense, has already been approved for light rail at one point and the planned system will use an existing line that travels through the core (denser areas of a denser metro) areas of town. On the other hand, TTA's route seems to be more questionable and is in a more sprawled region.

Earlier you made a statement in an attempt to relate the two as if it were an apples to apples comparison. I just called out some issues that may help Orlando avoid the problems that TTA is going through.

That is a shame that orlando turned that down, because the Fed's won't 80% fund a system now. The absolute max is 60% and those rules where tightened up even more this year. The TTA system would have been approved under the rules for 2006, for 2007, they don't make the cut.

We will have to wait and see if Orlando has the ridership numbers to make the new cut as well. I had a look at Orlando's plan and they are looking at 50% funding for a currently projected $472M system which means that $118 comes from the local counties, and $118 comes from the state and $236 from the Feds. Neither the state nor all of the local funding is locked up as apparently there is some resistance in raising the rental car tax to pay for it. This is the first hudlle they must overcome. Florida is a notoriously anti-transit state, so it will be interesting to see if they can turn this around.

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As traffic has continued to get more congested, the State is slowly taking a more receptive approach with mass transit. Examples of this outside of South Florida include Jax setting aside $100 million in funds for BRT and the Central Florida counties agreeing to fund commuter rail, when they killed the former light rail proposal in the late 90s.

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I can not say there is a more attractive feature for people trying to create a regional image to sell. My thoughts are, if we dont solve these mass transit issues, we are telling people we are happy with the growth, thank u, come again. Fl of all states should be frontlining the experimental applications of these rail options. Even closed circuits for our universities would be an intelligent start. A start investors might see as an opertunity. Not another toll way, an express train ticket sale makes silver too!

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Actually it is in danger of being mothballed because the expected federal funding did not come in, and the local banks are balking at loaning the system the money to make up the shortfall. They are now putting together a plan to stop construction so that it is safe, and putting the project on hold for the foreseeable future.

I agree it was an incredibly cheap system to build, but it has very basic stations, and they got their trains "used" for free. As a result, they did not need to go through the New Starts process as systems costing less than $75M are exempted from the process and instead congress will appropriate the money directly (if the local congressmen want to spend their political capital on this) Even with that, its future now seems to be uncertain.

Just to let you know, Federal funding was recently approved so the Music City Star will continue as planned.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yep, its looking good. The State will fund $220.6 million to improve the existing tracks to allow CSX to divert most of its frieght trains around Orlando, as well as another $53 million to cover any operational and maintanance losses during the first several years of operation.

If negotiations with CSX are successful, the first segment could open in 2009 with the last opening in 2011.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/custom...-home-headlines

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