Leaders ponder SunRail line to Orlando International Airport - FOX 35 News Orlando

Leaders ponder SunRail line to Orlando International Airport

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SunRail will begin service on May 1, with Phase I of the 61-mile commuter rail line, but before construction even begins on Phase II, plans are being made for Phase III.

When service starts in a few weeks, the last stop heading south will be at the Sand lake Road Station.  That station is miles from anywhere locals go on a regular basis.  Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the entire region agrees that more is needed there.

"What a lost opportunity, that right now you can't take SunRail and get to the airport," she told us.

There will be bus lanes and service to the Orlando International Airport from the Sand lake Road Station.  A big question that remains though, is whether or not people will be willing to take a train to then hop on a bus for the last three miles to Orlando International Airport. Mayor Jacobs said she believes that some will.

"If you are further north, and it's an option of driving all the way or taking a train and bus depending on how long you're going, how much luggage you have, those things get factored in," she said,  "but I think people going for a short trip with a carry-on bag would do it in a heartbeat, yes."

Metroplan Orlando, the area's leading transportation agency, is letting the state know that Phase III is on their radar and linking SunRail to the airport will be a priority for the agency. Mayor Jacobs said Orange County won't be able to afford a rail line to the airport on its own.

"This would be -- as all of our rail projects should be -- it should be federally funded, state funded, county funded, and to the extent feasible, city funded," said Jacobs.

Two major plans are already in the works. 

One would use an existing Orlando Utilities Commission rail line that runs south of the airport.  In that case, a bus or new railroad tracks would probably be needed.  

The other option is a magnetic levitation train proposed by an Atlanta businessman.  He intends to build a train from OIA to the Orange County Convention Center using private dollars.  That proposal is currently in the hands of the Florida Department of Transportation.

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