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December 8th, 2009 6:15 PM by David W. Welch
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Sunrail bill passed the Senate today, and is on it's way to Governor Crist's office for his signature. I cannot say that this is or is not the best deal, but I do believe that this is critical to continue to support the growth of Central Florida. The recession has stunted the decades old growth pattern that has been going on here in the Orlando area, but growth will return to our area for the same reasons that fueled the prior growth. California has boomed and busted many times over, but it will boom again. Ultimately, people are drawn to the sea and the weather. I am a native of Central Florida, and I could not imagine living with snow and ice for months on end. I remember the line from the movie "if you build it they will come." In Orlando if we build it they will come, if we don't they will still come. Sunrail will help alleviate a lane of traffic on I-4.
Orlando is consistently ranked as one of the most virtually connected cities in the country, and with Sunrail we will become more physically connected. The presentations that I have seen on this project suggest that very conservative estimates have been made regarding ridership, and they still suggest favorable results. Similar rail systems in other communities actually exceeded ridership estimates. The other positive impact is the economic growth that areas along similar train routes have experienced. Could we have gotten a better deal? Perhaps, but the numbers worked under the current scenario with conservative ridership estimates. Hopefully, we exceed the estimates for ridership, costs will come in lower than original estimates and the trail will arrive on time. Only time will tell for sure, but I believe commuter rail is an idea whose time has come for Central Florida.
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