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Secretary Prasad-Sunrail Could Take Money from Other Transportation Priorities

SunRail Showdown Expected at Six Hearings Today
SunRail Showdown Expected at Six Hearings Today

June 29, 2011 | WMFE - Florida's Transportation Secretary says cities like Orlando might have to tap into state funding for road widening and other transportation projects to operate the proposed SunRail commuter train. Secretary Ananth Prasad spent Tuesday in Central Florida yesterday, on a whirlwind tour of the planned rail line. He held six public meetings, starting in Volusia County and ending in Osceola. Governor Rick Scott is expected to decide by the end of the week whether to approve SunRail Secretary Prasad heard from supporters and opponents of the project at his meetings yesteday. 90.7s Mark Simpson was there.

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Members of the West Orlando Tea party partnered   with former Winter Park City
Commissioner Beth Dillaha’s Veto Sunrail group to express their opposition to the
Sunrail Commuter line.

Dillaha is worried that there’s no dedicated funding source for Sunrail.  She says Orlando
City Commissioners don’t appreciate  the potential impact of using future transportation
funding to pay for the rail line if local governments can’t come up with the cash.

"You know you’re making decisions today that you’re not going to be responsible for in 7 years, you will not be here. But sitting commissioners and tax payers will have to figure out a way to pay for this."

That was the civil part of the protest inside the Orlando City Hall’s before the Transportation Secretary's SunRail meeting... later, it dissolved into a shouting match that  moved away from Sunrail.

Just before the public Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says the city can easily absorb it’s share of the projected annual operating cost.  He’s cautiously optimistic Governor Scott will approve Sunrail.  He says greater Orlando needs the commuter train to promote future expansion.

"If we want to grow in a fashion that will allow us to maintain the quality of life we expect in Central Florida, and have transportation alternative, and have jobs that will be stimulated by transit oriented development, than it must that we get sunrail."

But Florida  Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said other badly needed transportation projects in Central Florida will be hurt if local governments have to pay for Sunrail’s operating deficits.

"I just want to make sure the local governments, the mayors and commissioners understand that they are making a choice.  They are making a choice to go towards mass transit at  the expense of other traditional
transportation projects.

At the Secretary’s Orlando public hearing, supporters of Sunrail appeared to out number
opponents.  The partners in Sunrail are ready to start building the commuter line.

They’re just waiting to see if Governor Scott gives his approval.

The decision is expected by Friday.



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