Officials in Florida are hoping the new SunRail commuter line will spur economic growth and reduce congestion on Interstate 4.
But, when the line opens for service next year, it’ll also be the first step in a larger rail network that may one day include a high-speed rail connection.
“This is a dramatic evolution step for central Florida. It’s the first time we’re building a fixed transit system — a regional one — with the ability of being able to connect into high-speed (rail),” The Associated Press quoted U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., as saying.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott previously cancelled funding for a high-speed line. But, he agreed to move forward with the Orlando-area commuter line.
As part of the 12-stop, 32-mile first phase, trains will operate between DeBary, north of Orlando’s city center, and Sand Lake Road in Orlando. When the second phase opens in 2016, the 17-station, 61.5-mile line will extend to DeLand on the north end and Poinciana on the south side.
Federal funding for the second phase is in limbo, according to various reports.