The City of Orlando is about to begin a massive upgrade to the area around the Amtrak Station near Orlando Regional Medical Center and plan to spend $4 million improving Sligh Boulevard in front of that station. The city says SunRail is the reason for the upgrades. Transportation Engineer and Project Manager Myra Monreal says there is a lot of work to be done.
"We're going to look at improving the street, the pavement. We're going to organize the parking. We're going to do some sidewalk improvements. There are currently some sidewalk gaps, and we're going to look at improving basically the last mile of people using the train stations, so that they can get to their final destination."
The ride can be bumpy at times on this road, and Monreal says once SunRail does arrive, people will need better signage.
"When people get off the train, they know how to get to the hospital, or how to get to a new hotel, or how to take the bus and get to downtown Orlando."
One thing the city has decided not to do is provide a direct connection for travelers exiting I-4 at Gore Street to arrive at either the Amtrak or the new SunRail station for ORMC. With the current configuration, cars turn on to Sligh from Gore, then have to make an S, turning briefly on Columbia Street before resuming on Sligh. Monreal says straightening that road would have involved eminent domain, and extended the project much longer than the city wanted.
"Cost certainly plays a role. It would impact some businesses, and so there would be right of way costs associated with that, and we were not funded for that."
The 4 million dollars in road work will come from state tax dollars. The city hopes to have the project complete by next summer when the first SunRail trains begin running.