The Florida Department of Transportation experienced some serious blowback on Thursday from its decision to withdraw an application for a federal grant to extend SunRail service to DeLand.
The incoming fire came from the SunRail Commission of local elected officials charged with overseeing Central Florida’s commuter train.
Relations between the SunRail Commission and FDOT are normally affable. Things took a turn when Volusia County Council Member Pat Patterson expressed frustration that the TIGER grant application was pulled at the last minute. Patterson said he didn’t clearly understand the reason the application was pulled. Neither do we.
Earlier this year FDOT officials spoke glowingly about the TIGER grant application that was being prepared. This was to be the second year an application was submitted and FDOT officials said they thought there was a great chance for it to be approved. At the last minute, though, it wasn’t submitted to the feds.
Many people in Volusia County are understandably upset there is no timetable for doing the work needed to extend SunRail service north from DeBary to DeLand.
Patterson was not alone in his unhappiness. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who chairs the SunRail Commission; Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Seminole County Commissioner Bob Dallari and Osceola County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer all said FDOT should have notified them there was a problem so they could work together to solve it.
This hot potato landed in the lap of SunRail new CEO Nicola Liquori who had not joined SunRail when FDOT promised to submit the application. Ms. Liquori has already pledged to find the federal dollars needed for the project.
We’ll see what happens.