U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Signs $178.6 Million Federal Partnership to Build First-Ever Commuter Rail Line in Central Florida

SunRail Commuter Project Estimated to Put Nearly 11,000 Americans in the Construction Trades to Work

Contact: Paul Griffo
(202) 366-4064

ORLANDO, Fla. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today signed the grant agreement that gives the green light for construction to begin on the Orlando SunRail project.  He was joined at the kick-off by Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Florida Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, Representative Corrine Brown, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and other state and local officials.

The ceremony, which took place at the future site of the Florida Hospital Station, marks the largest federal transit investment in Central Florida and is expected to create an estimated 11,000 construction-related jobs at a time when they are needed most.

“Investing in a modern transportation network is part of President Obama's strategy to win the future by out-building and out-competing the rest of the world,” Secretary LaHood said. “We’re bringing real transportation choices to greater Orlando, so more people can leave their cars at home, give their kids cleaner air to breathe and reduce our nation’s dependence on oil.”

The Full Funding Grant Agreement commits $178.6 million in funding from the Department’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to the initial 32-mile segment of the SunRail commuter rail project. The funding amount, which represents roughly half of the project’s $357.2 million estimated total cost, will be paid out by the FTA through 2013.

“SunRail will give hundreds of thousands of Central Florida residents a viable transportation alternative,” said Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Not only will they be able to avoid congestion, they will be in an environment where they can get work done while commuting.”

In addition to providing easy access to Orlando central business district’s 730,000 jobs, there are another approximately 79,000 jobs within walking distance of the line’s 12 stations.  In addition to the nearly 11,000 jobs created by engineering, design, construction, and operations, the Florida Department of Transportation estimates another 150,000 jobs as a result of business and economic development around the line.

The line will connect downtown Orlando to Orange, Seminole and Volusia Counties along existing railroad tracks, and in addition to having 12 new stations, it will consist of seven locomotives, 14 passenger rail cars, and parking for commuters. Stops along the line will include:

  • Florida Hospital Station, serving one of the largest employers in Central Florida, and within walking distance of many cultural, entertainment, shopping and dining destinations.
  • Central Station—the hub of LYNX, Orlando’s transit system—providing easy transfers to city buses that serve greater Orlando and connecting with LYMMO, the city’s free downtown bus rapid transit line. County and federal courthouses, the Amway Arena, and many of Orlando’s business, shopping, entertainment and recreational venues are all within easy walking distance.
  • Orlando Health/Amtrak Station, offering a connection with Amtrak service to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, as well as destinations within Florida and serving the Orlando Health Center, which is another of the region’s largest employers. Surrounding medical facilities include Orlando Regional Medical Center, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

The line, which will also offer bus connection to Orlando International Airport, is considered the first phase of what is expected to be a 61-mile commuter rail line extending further north to Deland and further south to Osceola County.