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Old 02-26-2010, 07:00 PM
Location: UCF
3 posts, read 6,980 times
Reputation: 11


Nation’s first true high-speed line, in Central Florida, will serve Lakeland on its way between Tampa and Orlando.

After receiving $1.25 billion from the federal government last month for its planned 84-mile high-speed line, Florida is virtually guaranteed to offer the first true fully high-speed rail service in the United States. The state’s project, which will cost about $2.6 billion to complete, will connect the state’s second and third largest metropolitan areas with frequent service along the I-4 corridor. About three million annual riders are expected by 2030.

Though the focus of the system has been on its Orlando and Tampa terminals, it will also serve Lakeland, which will account for about half of all intercity riders. Florida must focus closely on the specific design of its route and stations to ensure the success of the system. Thus, making the right decisions about where the Lakeland station will be located and how the surrounding area is developed is essential.

The choice to build the new rail system along the Interstate highway corridor will make the system relatively easy to implement; the state is unlikely to face delays caused by NIMBYism, since the route is already used by hundreds of thousands of drivers everyday. In addition, the corridor is already wholly owned by the public and a median will allow the construction of an elevated guideway on the majority of the route between downtown Tampa and Orlando International Airport.

The highway allows a fully independent right-of-way, unaffected by grade crossings and free from the Federal Railroad Administration’s rules restricting the use of fast trains in shared freight and passenger rail corridors. Heavier vehicles (such as the Amtrak Acela) are significantly more expensive and have diminished performance compared to their lighter European peers, which the FRA will only allow to operate in fully separated rights-of-way.

Yet the selection of the Interstate corridor has its own major negative consequences. For one, it means no direct access to downtown Orlando. According to Florida Rail Enterprise’s Chief Operating Officer Nazih Haddad, there is no room in the median of I-4 near Orlando to allow the trains to enter. Meanwhile, the use of existing freight tracks is impossible because it would require removing all freight service from the tracks because of the decision to use non-FRA compliant rolling stock.

Therefore, no connection to Orlando’s center city is planned until the system extends north to Jacksonville in the future. A connection south to Miami is prioritized for now.

Nor is a direct connection to downtown Lakeland planned, despite that city being just off Interstate 4. Florida could improve the existing tracks and run trains directly into the center city, but that solution would engender similar problems as those experienced in downtown Orlando.

As a result, Lakeland will get a stop, but it will be somewhere in the median of I-4. Exactly how it’s implemented will determine whether the network’s projected ridership will play out as expected, and whether trains will be able to induce the kind of spin-off development for which affected cities hope.

Transportation board members in Polk County — whose largest city is Lakeland — weighed in this week on the county’s planned station; it will get only one, at least for now. They agreed unanimously to prioritize a stop at the intersection of Interstate 4 and Polk Parkway, where the University of South Florida Polytechnic is planning a new campus, in the midst of what can only realistically be described as rampant suburban sprawl. The University’s master plan for its new campus won’t help matters much, as academic buildings will be surrounded by parking lots and walkable connections to the future rail station would be tenuous at best.

Commissioners argued in favor of the Polk Parkway stop claiming that it would be better for future development and that it was closer to the county’s other major population center, in Winter Haven.

Yet this approach would do little to leverage the high-speed rail station’s ability to concentrate density, as the area is far from any population centers and the University’s design will eliminate a large parcel of land from development options.

The commissioners’ second choice is a station at Kathleen Road, near downtown Lakeland. This area is already relatively well developed and has transit connections, unlike the other potential site. A high-speed rail station there could serve as a development catalyst, helping to extend the existing downtown, becoming far more than just a place where people catch the train.

But the approach of Lakeland area officials suggests that they wouldn’t take advantage of the ability to densify the neighborhood around that stop either — the board’s members seem secure in assuming that everyone will drive to stations anyway. With that kind of attitude, some of the advantages of the implementation of fast trains simply disappear. It could be a disappointing outcome for one of the major stations on the nation’s first high-speed line.

Florida is moving forward with its high-speed line quickly. According to Operating Officer Haddad, “We hope to be in the ground within an eleven month period,” with service starting in early 2015. But the federal government’s limited commitment thus far isn’t strong enough, and the state isn’t providing any more money; the conservative state’s willingness to endorse a rail program at all is a serious improvement over the anti-rail policies of former governor Jeb Bush.

Yet as Mr. Haddad puts it, “We’re building something from scratch… we can’t do half of it.” He remains confident that the FRA will find the funds over the next few years to guarantee the Florida system’s completion. Here’s to hopes that it can be done right.

How Does Lakeland Fit into Florida’s Strategy for High-Speed Rail? The Transport Politic
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:18 PM
Location: Orlando
8,181 posts, read 15,933,601 times
Reputation: 49702
And what????

opinions can be found here..
We don't need no stinkin' light rail!

And that above can be found all over. I don't understand the point of your post.
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:19 PM
3,849 posts, read 7,422,590 times
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Lakeland and Orlando should put in light rail systems that go from the high speed area to the downtown areas. Seems like that would solve the problem.
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:25 PM
8,287 posts, read 11,279,076 times
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well I will say that the Orlando to Miami route should have been first. Miami has all the transit infrastructure in place to make high speed rail work. It is building that huge inter modal center right next to the airport where Amtrak, Tri-Rail and Metrorail are all going to be together in one station and connected to the airport by a people mover.
Besides there is probably more traffic between Orlando & Miami than Tampa.
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:30 PM
Location: Atlanta,GA/Tallahassee/Chicago/Lakeland
472 posts, read 839,985 times
Reputation: 308
Originally Posted by Coconut1 View Post
Lakeland and Orlando should put in light rail systems that go from the high speed area to the downtown areas. Seems like that would solve the problem.
In Lakeland, that'll be the day....
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:39 PM
2,565 posts, read 4,914,176 times
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MiamiRob - I agree entirely especially if it went from Orlando towards the coast and took a path closer to I-95 than to the Turnpike so it could have decent stopping points in places like Daytona, Melbourne, PSL, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and terminating at the Intermodal. Of course even if they put it in it would probably follow the Turnpike for obvious logistic problems of building in a much denser area.

made me laugh
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:19 PM
105 posts, read 235,863 times
Reputation: 41
Do they say and maybe I missed it how long a ride from Orlando to Tampa will take using the train? What is it an hour by car?
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:37 PM
8,287 posts, read 11,279,076 times
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^well it is 84 miles between both cities so driving at speed limits it should take a little over a hour by car however one also needs to factor in the amount of traffic approaching either metro. Although they haven't chosen the trains yet I would imagine at a 150 mph estimate it would take 30-45 minutes between both cities by rail.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:28 AM
4,155 posts, read 7,466,613 times
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I have had to drive to Tampa/St. Pete multiple times in the past month. What should be a fairly quick drive has always turned out to be a complicated task. My last trip, I left Orlando at 4 to get to a meeting in St. Pete by 6. Even with my cushion I was late for my meeting. Traffic is horrendous on this stretch and the smallest accident can cause a major backup. Getting out of Orlando (downtown to U.S. 27) alone can sometimes take up to an hour. I for one will be glad when this train is up and running as I do travel between the two cities often for business. I think it's a great idea for spurring businesses on both ends. I think this will make our region even more competitive in the tourism and convention markets. It's going to be a HUGE selling point that you can arrive in Orlando and be able to visit Tampa Bay and beaches all in the same vacation without having to drive to Tampa. I think both areas will benefit greatly.

I was surprised however by the not so enthusiastic attitude of my friend in Tampa. He told me most people in Tampa he knew opposed it. I asked him why and he said it would only benefit those people who would sell their property to construct the line and that no one would ride it but tourist. I don't think he knew that the train is planned to go down I-4 and therefore no new land would be purchased for the tracks, except may be the stations. I than asked him, even if only tourist rode it, why wouldn't that be good for Tampa as they would be filling up the streets of downtown Tampa, Channelside, the Aquarium, Ybor City, St. Pete Times forum and spending their money at these places. He than told me he never thought of it like that, he just heard what other people were saying. It shocks me the difference in mentality. Most people I've spoken to here see it as a boon, more people visiting, bigger conventions, easier trip for us locals. I don't think anyone really believes is will significantly reduce traffic on I-4 but in our own selfish way, we're just glad we'll have the option to sit back and watch the other people sit in traffic. I feel the same way about Sunrail, although support for this has been more mixed based on the people I've talked to.
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Old 03-29-2010, 11:33 AM
105 posts, read 235,863 times
Reputation: 41
In my case being someone who will be living in Florida sometime in the next two years and growing up in Jersey, New York area I think it is great for all of you. I have spent time in Florida and the Orlando traffic is a big time mess. Maybe I am biased seeing as where I live trains are a way of life.

As for the sunpass or whatever you call it. I love it. Around my area we use whats called Eazy Pass. and I think 95 % of the people in New Jersey use it. Never having to slow down on the highway saves time and stops traffic. I remember years ago when Eazy Pass was still not that popular you would hit certain tolls on the Garden State Parkway and sit for like 20 minutes to get through. Now we never wait in traffic unless there is an accident.
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