FDOT: SunRail to DeLand could be bad investment

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DELAND, Fla. —

Volusia County's plans for SunRail are up in the air Monday night.

Florida Department of Transportation just sent the county a letter that some believe suggests it might not be ideal to run the rail line to DeLand as first planned.

The original plan calls for the commuter train to eventually run from Poinciana to DeLand.

Now, the first phase ends in Debary.

The letter expresses concerns about the number of people in the area.

The existing station is surrounded by woods, an old convenience store and more woods.

For years, the plan to build SunRail has called for sending the commuter train north to the Amtrak station in DeLand.

The state said it made sense because that's where the existing train tracks go.

Now, even FDOT seems to be suggesting it might not be the perfect location.

County Council Chairman Jason Davis recently pushed for the county to consider different stops in more populated areas like Deltona along Interstate 4 and on to Daytona Beach.

"I'm not surprised somebody's looking at it saying, 'Hey, what's going on here?'" said Davis.

The Amtrak station is 3.5 miles from downtown DeLand in a rural area.

The FDOT letter suggests very few people live near the stop, and it's rural. Unless that changes, it could be a bad investment for the state.

Steve Olson with FDOT said there were probably some unintended consequences with the letter.

FDOT said the letter just means it wants to work with the county to encourage more people to live and work closer to the stop.

Since federal funding is still not guaranteed, Davis worries the letter could mean that "no people" equals "no funding."

"We could lose funding, the project could be put on hold," Davis said.

Davis said if they don't get federal funding, it could mean the county would have to pay millions of dollars more, and it doesn't have the money.

FDOT said it is too early to speculate on that.