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Orlando (I-4 Central Florida Light Rail System)

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I-4 Central Florida Light Rail System

Orlando, Florida

(November 1996)


The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), in conjunction with the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority/LYNX, is proposing a series of multimodal (highway and transit) improvements in a 75 mile north-south corridor along Interstate 4 in the Orlando area. The locally preferred alternative (LPA) selected in September 1995 includes the design concept and scope of a series of highway improvements along a 75 mile corridor and a light rail transit (LRT) component along a 52 mile corridor. The LPA includes six general purpose lanes, two high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and LRT within the Interstate 4 north/south corridor. The preliminary cost estimate for the entire project is approximately $2.7 billion (1995 dollars).

A 25 mile Minimum Operating Segment (MOS) of the LRT is in preliminary engineering from Altamonte Springs in Seminole County to the SeaWorld/International Drive tourist district. The LRT would be primarily located in the median of a reconstructed Interstate 4, and/or adjacent to an existing CSX rail corridor. In the Orlando Central Business District and in the International Drive area, the corridor would be at-grade. The total cost of the 25 mile Minimum Operating Segment, including related park and ride, bus and LRT facilities, is approximately $880 million (1995 dollars).


FDOT and LYNX completed the I-4 MultiModal Master Plan Major Investment Study. In September 1995, the metropolitan planning organizations in Orlando and Volusia Counties adopted the locally preferred alternative (LPA) as described above. The entire Interstate 4 MIS design concept and scope is included in the current 2020 Orlando Urban Area Transportation Study financial feasibility plan.

The highway and transit components of the LPA will be analyzed and refined in separate Preliminary Engineering (PE) efforts and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). FTA is designated as the lead Federal agency on the light rail transit PE/EIS, while the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead agency on the highway PE/EIS. The final Environmental Impact Statement on the 25 mile LRT project is scheduled for completion in October 1998.

In FY 1997, Congress appropriated $1.99 million for the LYNX Light Rail System. The FDOT has programmed $1.4 billion (1995 dollars) to implement the highway and transit recommendations of the MIS. Approximately $400 million of this amount is for the LRT project. Furthermore, the FDOT has programmed approximately $15 million over two years as its 25 percent share of design of the initial LRT system. The implementing agency, LYNX, plans to request additional Federal support for the FEIS, PE, and Final Design activities and the subsequent construction of the LRT program.


Mobility Improvements - The 25 mile LRT project will serve approximately 35,000 trips per day in 2010.

Cost Effectiveness - The 25 mile LRT project has a cost effectiveness index of $18 per incremental transit trip (1995 dollars) for the design year 2010.

Environmental Benefits - The Orlando metropolitan region is currently in attainment with regard to ozone and carbon monoxide. However, potential non-attainment has been an issue over the past several years. The LRT program will assist the region in remaining in attainment as it continues its rapid growth in the future. The project will result in the reduction of 150,000 miles of daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

Operating Efficiencies - In 2010, the operating cost for the 25 mile LRT project is forecast to equal $2.70 compared to $2.52 for the TSM alternative.


The ratings of capital financial commitment and operating revenues are based on the most current information available to FTA. The financial plan is being updated, but was not available at the time of this report. The capital financing plan is rated "medium." The preliminary financial plan for the initial LRT project anticipates a non-Federal funding contribution of 20 to 50 percent, depending on the element of the program. FDOT has committed to providing one half of the non-Federal share of the entire LRT project, up to 25 percent of the total capital cost. The balance will be provided by public/private partnerships, including service improvement districts and by grants from local funding jurisdictions.

The stability and reliability of operating funds are rated "low." Operating funding for LYNX is currently provided by grants by local jurisdictions. Florida has legislation that enables the State to provide capital and additional operating support to local transit agencies for bus and rail programs.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $440.00 ($1.99 million appropriated through FY 1997
State and Local: $440.00
Total: $880.00

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions.


Florida has legislatively mandated growth management, and all local governments are required by State law to submit and adhere to local comprehensive plans. The comprehensive plans in Central Florida are required to coordinate land use and transportation planning. LYNX has adopted Transit Oriented Development (TOD) practices through the agency's Mobility Design Manual and Customer Amenities Manual. These documents have been or are being incorporated into all local comprehensive plans and Land Development Codes.

Assessment of Land Use Policies and Conditions: This project was among those in the FTA Office of Planning's pilot assessment of land use and conditions (as a pilot for evaluation and rating of transit-supportive land use policies as a new start criteria, beginning in FY 1999). This pilot application is described earlier in this report. The alignment serves major tourist attractions, one of which has integrated its expansion plans to incorporate an LRT station. In 1990, the corridor contained 14 percent of the region's population and 44 percent of the employment. Forecasts indicate growth in jobs, hotel rooms and additional residents. The area has comprehensive growth planning regulations. The comprehensive plans for the counties and cities along the corridor have been amended to include transit-friendly goals, objectives, and policies. Significant changes in local ordinances have been made. The Orlando CBD master plan has recognized the need to support transit through streetscape improvements.

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