ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Members of the Taft community in south Orange County and beyond got their first chance to weigh in on FDOT’s proposed “Sunshine Corridor,” a rail line that would run between Orlando International Airport and Disney Springs.
The public input session was held Tuesday night at the Taft Community Center, which is adjacent to Sunrail’s main line and would be near where the proposed route meets up with the existing trains.
By and large, the feedback was positive among attendees, who saw the extension as a sensible way to move tourists and workers between major destinations, keeping cars off I4 and other roads.
“I think it’s going to be good for the community,” Felicia Alexander, a Taft resident, summarized.
Residents had several concerns, mainly effects on traffic. Sunrail leaders say their goal is to build elevated tracks to avoid all road crossings, something Brightline, which would share the tracks on it way to Tampa, is pushing for.
However, the completion of the Sunshine Corridor would lead to Sunrail’s existing line adding night and weekend service, while running daytime trains more often, potentially backing up cars more frequently.
Disney employee Matthew Faller, who lives in Azalea Park, said he’d prefer riding the train over driving to work.
“Even if it took a little bit longer by train, you know, I’m not stressed out about crashing, it’s a lot safer than driving,” he explained. “I could be working on something while I’m riding the train.”
FDOT is in the early phases of designing and building the line. The next steps involve environmental reviews, design, funding and finally construction, which is likely years away.
Funding will be key. Leaders estimate it will take $2 billion to run the line from the airport to the convention center, slightly less than it cost to rebuild I-4. It’s still not clear how much taxpayers will be on the hook for, if at all.
However, with Brightline pushing ahead to Tampa, the airport finishing its dazzling multi-modal transport hub near Terminal C, and Universal funding the construction of a stop near its parks, it’s likely this proposal will rumble quickly toward breaking ground.
Not that residents appear to mind.
“This was an opportunity, certainly to reach out and take comments from the public, and it’s been really positive comments,” FDOT’s David Cooke reported as Tuesday’s meeting began winding down.
Community members will have two more chances to weigh in this week. The first is Wednesday evening at the Holiday Inn on International Drive. The second is Thursday at The Delta Hotels on South Apopka Vineland Road.
Both meetings are open house format and last from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
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