The Florida Department of Transportation on Thursday completed its purchase of the 61-mile SunRail right-of-way in central Florida from CSX Corp. for $150 million, clearing the way for construction and improvement on the route.
The first phase of construction will include the double-tracking, signal improvements, stations, and establishing an operations control center for SunRail service. The 31-mile first phase of SunRail, with Orlando as its hub city, includes 12 stops from DeBary in Volusia County to Sand Lake Road in southwest Orange County.
“Today's purchase is another important step in the process to bring SunRail commuter rail to Central Florida,” said Ananth Prasad, secretary of the state transportation department, in a statement. “All along the way, the department has worked closely with federal, state, local and private partners to help achieve the vision to deliver the most effective and efficient commuter rail system in the country.”
Said CSX Vice President-Strategic Infrastructure Louis Renjel, “Today’s closing represents a significant milestone in this public-private partnership that accommodates Central Florida’s need for a transportation alternative to congested highways, while preserving and expanding environmentally friendly and efficient freight rail capacity.”
SunRail’s prospects were aided by the efforts of Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who has fought for the project and countered state-level anti-rail efforts despite significant criticism from members of his own party, as well as Florida Tea Party voices.