Freight Considerations May Derail Commuter Transit in Florida

Plans for a commuter rail system in Central Florida may be disrupted by a federal order to weigh the impact of rerouting freight trains to accommodate the new system.

"The federal government has ordered a survey of how freight trains, which are being moved from a downtown Orlando line to Polk County, would affect residents in the surrounding areas, including Lakeland."

"The problem is that the study and any appeals could cause the commuter-rail project to miss deadlines for major federal funding, state officials said. At a minimum, that could cause long delays in the project scheduled to open its first leg from DeLand to Orlando in 2010."

"The federal government is chipping in about $300 million for the commuter-rail project, which is supposed to be completed in 2013. 'I do not believe full funding will be impacted in any way'" Mica said."

"The $615 million commuter-rail line is being built using federal, state and local money, including cash from Orlando and Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties. A separate $491 million deal between the state and CSX includes the purchase of 61 miles of track from DeLand to Poinciana."

"As part of the deal, freight trains that now run through Orlando during the day would be rerouted on the CSX line west of the city and go through Lakeland and Winter Haven, where the company is planning to build a major rail yard."

Full Story: Feds may disrupt Orlando commuter-rail plan

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