As anyone who commutes on I-4 in or around Orlando will tell you, it is one of the most congested highways in the country. But soon, thanks to SunRail, commuters and others living in the greater Orlando area will be able to opt out of the region’s traffic mess.
Yesterday, I joined Congressman John Mica, Congresswoman Corinne Brown, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to sign a grant agreement pledging $178.6 million in federal support through 2013 to build Central Florida's first commuter rail line.
The first 32-mile segment of the 61-mile system is scheduled for completion in 2014, and when SunRail opens for business, area residents will be able to skip daily traffic snarls, spend less of their hard-earned income on gas, reduce the region's tailpipe emissions, and help cut America's dependence on expensive foreign oil.
But, even before SunRail begins to pay those important dividends, design, engineering and construction of the rail line will put nearly 11,000 of Florida's men and women to work. In a region that's been hit hard by tough economic times, those jobs are a welcome blessing.
Photo courtesy Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel
Over the last two years, that's exactly the kind of strategic vison the Obama Administration has employed in making transportation investments: finding opportunities to create jobs today while increasing our economic competitiveness tmorrow.
Already we've put tens of thousands of workers on 15,000 roadway, railway, transit, and airport job sites in every state of the union. We're helping communities lay the foundation they need for economic development. And we're giving Americans the choices they want for getting to work, school, grocery stores, and doctor appointments.
If we've learned anything in the past two and a half years, it's that we can still do big things in America. We can once again make our nation's transportation system the envy of the world.