SunRail: Florida Needs It & It’s Good For You Too!

sunrail central florida commuter railEarlier this week I spent a couple of days in Tallahassee with the Florida Realtor® contingent for the Great American Realtor® Days, our Legislative Days in which we meet & greet our elected officials and discuss with them what we are supporting and feel is necessary to Florida’s future as well as asking them how we can help as well. In general, the meetings are very productive and warmly accepted.

One of the main issues that we, The Florida Association of Realtors® and the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association, are following & supporting is SunRail, the proposed 61 mile commuter rail stretching from Deland to Poinciana formerly known as the Central Florida Commuter Rail. Before we go into the he said/she said and some of the motivation behind some of these half-truths, etc. about SunRail, let’s look into the economic impact of such.

The Florida DOT hired an outside company to perform an economic impact analysis of the proposed SunRail. What their findings showed was that it would almost immediately create 13,000 more construction and operations jobs with an impact of more than $350M in household income.

Additionally, it was noted that within a one-half mile radius of the station stops it would further create an additional 113,000 construction jobs; $4.6B in construction dollar earnings over the next 20 years; an increase of almost 9 times the value of property; and a further economic impact of $2.5B from workers living and spending in that area.

This is a phenomenal impact in this day age and does not even take into consideration the benefits that this will allow others a reasonable form of transportation. And let’s not forget the health benefits. Without SunRail and additional two more lanes would have to be added to I-4. Instead, we should be seeing a reduction in this traffic and its associated pollution.

OK, so let’s now look at another aspect of why SunRail is needed and why it has to be now! Several years ago, the Federal Government earmarked monies to Florida for a similar purpose. Unfortunately, we could not get the measure passed and the monies went to Charlotte, NC, which is running what I understand to be a profitable system. If Florida does not pass this legislation, I do not see the Federal Government ever offering us these funds again for commuter rail. Why should they? This isn’t baseball where you get three strikes!

One of the main opponents to SunRail is Sen. Paula Dockery. She states her main concern is because the freight trains will divide the downtown of Lakeland & she’s been also been touting the liability issues. We’ll discuss those in a moment, but it must be understood that she also has a personal background and I think this goes much deeper. You have to understand that her husband lost millions upon millions of dollars when the high-speed rail amendment did not pass several years ago. Think she has a bad taste in her mouth and might just be a tad retaliatory? I do, but then again that’s just my opinion.

Firstly, the State of Florida is buying CSX’s tracks and this figure is not overstated and in fact falls between two independent appraisals of such. Secondly, she states that the no-fault liability unfairly benefits CSX. The liability provisions are basically the same as those of South Florida’s Tri-Rail system. What’s even funnier is that Sen. Dockery voted in favor of that back then.  Hmm…do we see a contradiction here?

The are other arguments on both sides that are unfounded and the fact is that the citizens of the State of Florida will not be on the lam to pay for SunRail if the federal funds are not received.

Sen. Gary Siplin, another opponent who is not fully cognizant of the whole situation, was under the impression that the monies should be used elsewhere, such as for education. That’s all well and good, but there is a problem in that the funds we are talking about here can only be used for transportation projects. When this was explained to Sen. Siplin, it appeared that a light bulb went off in his head.

The benefits of SunRail to Central Florida are great. But if we do not go ahead with this project, we will not see any more federal dollars coming through for other rail projects in Florida and that will be a tragedy of greater proportions.

Call your Legislator today! The State of Florida Needs SunRail and so do you!

Till next time…Marc It Sold!

2 Responses to SunRail: Florida Needs It & It’s Good For You Too!
  1. Connie
    May 15, 2010 | 4:08 pm

    Even though you wrote this over a year ago, it’s still important to review why politicians vote for or against controversial legislation. Dockery is in the news again. Your information on why she led the campaign against light rail and voted against something so important for the community and environment is worth repeating. Well written blog article!!!

  2. Marc Grossman
    September 7, 2010 | 3:08 pm

    Connie – Thank you very much for your comment. I apologize for not noting this earlier. Unfortunately, you are so very correct!

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