(Orlando, WMFE) A long roster of dignitaries gathered at the location of the Florida Hospital SunRail stop in Orlando Monday to sign federal funding papers that will send $77 million towards construction of the commuter rail project.
U.S. Congressman John Mica, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Florida Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff all sweated it out under a broiling July sky to sign the official agreement.
FTA chief Peter Rogoff says U.S. officials will stay involved with SunRail as the state builds stations and improves rail tracks along the route, “We have engineers doing regular oversight of the project, not just how the dollars are being spent, but also that things are on schedule being done to specs, and that’s an important part of our role to make sure things don’t go over budget or get delayed.”
Sunrail supporters hope that more than 13,000 jobs could come out of building commuter train stations, installing signals, and improving tracks along the 61 mile route.
Projections estimate more than 200,000 jobs could be created through related development projects in cities and towns across Central Florida.
The next major steps in the SunRail process include the physical groundbreaking, completing the sale of the tracks from rail company CSX for $432 million dollars, and acquiring locomotives and passenger cars.
Not everyone at the event was a SunRail supporter. At least one man stood with a sign that said, “Have a Brain, No Trains,” but the crowd was overwhelmingly positive overall.
More demonstrative of the anticipated development Sunrail is expected to bring, was an announcement from Florida Hospital officials that a new 90,000 square foot office building was going to be constructed adjacent to the Sunrail stop. The facility is expected to hold Florida Hospital and Adventist Health System’s new headquarters.