Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Let's get to work

Many people may not see eye to eye with Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s politics.
Yet what sane person would disagree with Scott’s “Let’s get to work” slogan?
Scott speaks with passion about cultivating an economic environment in Florida to create more jobs.
Despite that great slogan Scott has repeatedly demonstrated that he’s no fan of SunRail. Why doesn’t he understand the linkage between SunRail, economic growth and job creation in Florida?
The accompanying image -- prepared several years ago for a Florida Department of Transportation presentation -- shows what the Sand Lake Road SunRail station in south Orange County could evolve into in a few years. (Click here to see an animated video offering a future view of the Sand Lake Road SunRail station.)
Your eyes are not deceiving you. Planners envision a cluster of first-class office buildings sprouting at the Sand Lake Road SunRail station.
The land at the Sand Lake Road station is currently underutilized and dominated by fast-food restaurants.
The potential for growth – smart growth – is amazing because this SunRail station is just south of downtown Orlando, less than 2 miles from Orlando International Airport, the busyTaft rail yards, the Orlando Central Park business complex and is adjacent to the International Drive tourist zone.  
Office space at the Sand Lake Road SunRail station can easily become the logistics hub for the Orlando region. The All Aboard Florida express train from Miami and the magnetic levitation train to International Drive plan to have stations at OIA.
But we’re never going to reach the real economic potential for the stations at Sand Lake Road and other SunRail stops as long as we’re stuck with a rinky-dink commuter train that doesn’t run on weekends and only offers a couple trains during the middle of the workday. By the way, we wonder if our governor is aware that Orlando area primary and secondary roads are choked to the point of failure. Traffic jams are a real downer in any conversation about cultivating new businesses and jobs in this town..
We need weekend SunRail service, not just to attend an Orlando Magic game or to shop at the Lake Mary farmers market. We need weekend service to get work; to the airport; hospitals, and other destinations. The cost of weekend SunRail service: $5.5 million annually for more crews and maintenance.
We need more service during the Monday to Friday workday. The cost of adding more frequent train service: $19 million. Much of that money is needed for additional locomotives and passenger coaches.
A robust economy requires fast, reliable transportation. We’re never going to be able to build, or afford, enough highway construction to mitigate the traffic congestion that’s strangling our community.
Providing SunRail with the money necessary to reach its full potential is one of the smartest investments Florida can make if our leaders – the governor, Legislature, and business CEOs – are serious about making the state’s economy stronger and helping to grow more jobs.
Let’s get to work!

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