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SunRail Voted Down: Article from the Daytona Beach News-Journal

02 May 2009 10:59 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal

May 1, 2009

SunRail defeated in Legislature

TALLAHASSEE - The proposed Central Florida commuter rail system went down to defeat in the Florida Legislature today - for the second time in two days.

The failure in the Senate of language backing SunRail - a 61.5-mile system proposed to connect DeLand and metropolitan Orlando - could sound a death-knell for the 61.5-mile system proposed to connect DeLand and metropolitan Orlando.

Its backers said the project was a crucial transportation alternative in the growing Interstate 4 corridor.

Opponents said it was an unreasonably expensive deal that would leave the state holding an unreasonable burden for accidents in the rail corridor, even if they weren't caused by SunRail.

"I think if they do not take action and approve the SunRail legislation, it is a dead situation," Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno said before the vote today.

"SunRail is gone forever," Bruno said. "You won't have all those partners again. You won't have the federal funds." SunRail's costs to the federal and state governments and five local partners - Volusia, Orange, Osecola and Seminole counties and Orlando - have been put at $2.7 billion over 30 years, including operations.

Start-up costs have been estimated at about $1.2 billion.

An agreement for the Florida Department of Transportation to purchase the corridor between DeLand and Poinciana from its current owner, Jacksonville-based CSX Transportation, expires June 30. CSX would lease the corridor for freight traffic.

The sale is contingent, though, on legislation that would shield CSX from up to $200 million in damage to commuters or other people in the corridor - even if CSX caused the damage.

Without that legislation, the SunRail agreement can be voided June 30.

© 2009 News-Journal Corporation.
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