NIMBYkiller wrote:Has there been any talks of extending SunRail out to Tampa, or any type of commuter rail service between Orlando and Tampa? It's long since time something be done between the two, maybe run it Sanford-Orlando-MCO-Tampa skipping some of the SunRail stops while coming through Orlando area and then making some intermediates between Kissimmee and Tampa? What barriers, other than political and financial, exist to getting this done? CSX issues? What else?
There has not been many discussions extending Sunrail to Tampa because they are in two different independent federal planning council areas ; East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Each planning council is more attuned into making transportation better within their areas than they are to making it better to neighboring areas. Sunrail main supporter is ECFRPC, TBRPC may wish to implement an entirely different solution for its own commuters. The different solutions do not have to meet, and if they ever did be compatible with each other.
Too many people are unaware of the importance of the regional planning councils with the distribution of allocated federal funds to most transportation projects in America. There is usually two to three times more requests for funding than there are funds t distribute. So they keep a list, where they priorities which projects they wish to fund first. Therefore, few projects extending beyond the borders of one planning council reamains at the top of any list for long.
If you are expecting intercity train services between Tampa and Orlando, Amtrak already provides it and Brightline might provide a high frequency service in the future. There is no reason at all for these local planning councils to fund one. But they have planned for one, reserving a mass transit (rail/bus) corridor within the median of Interstate 4. It’s this very corridor Brightline is hoping to use to extend its trains to Tampa.
Now, if Brightline or someone else fails to build this rail line, there is always a chance these two independent councils could agree to fund more trains. But they would have to join forces and agree upon a design, agree to match percentages, get an environmental review completed, form or contract with a transportation provider, and get federal funding allocated for a project; all of which can take 10 years or more to do - during which time the political winds both locally and nationally can shift. It is very difficult for one planning council to keep faith with a long term project, it is even more difficult for two planning councils to do so. The likelihood two different planning councils would remain 100% behind such a project for that long a time diminishes conversely with the time required.