County leaders look to the future of Sunrail funding

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — As Sunrail continues to grow in Central Florida several counties are looking at the possibility of another agency taking over control from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Currently, Sunrail runs some 61 miles between Volusia and Osceola Counties with stops in Seminole and Orange along the way.

Now Polk County officials are looking at the possibility of expanding service to Haines City.

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Seminole county commissioner Jay Zembower said when the idea was brought up at a recent meeting he and other county leaders discussed the idea that another agency, with a dedicated funding source, might take over.

“There’s a great deal of constituents in that area, Polk County, and actually commute all the way up into the Orlando area. So it would be a benefit, I would believe, if we could get it there,” he said.

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Zembower said if that were to happen it would mean “hitting the reset button” for many of Sunrail’s partners.

That means millions of dollars in funding will have to come from those areas and that is why Zembower thinks a dedicated agency is what is needed.

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“I think we’ve got to find a funding source that’s dedicated. And really look at this, this tri rail model out of South Florida, as being a viable solution for the whole region,” Zembower said.

Funding for Sunrail service comes from FDOT but that is set to change when the four counties currently served by the trains take over in 2024.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.