The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday approved a multi-year, full-funding grant agreement to build the $1.2 billion SunRail project in central Florida.
The long-planned, 61-mile commuter rail line is designed to link Orlando with the nearby counties of Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties. It’s designed to relieve congestion partly created by workers commuting to the Orlando area, home of the state’s mega-theme parks.
Congress has 60 days to review the project.
Under the agreement, the federal government will pay 50% of construction costs, while Florida and participating local governments will each pay 25%. It’s not clear if the local governments will use bond financing for their costs.
The state would pay operations and maintenance costs for the first seven years. After that, a local rail commission would assume those responsibilities.
Gov. Rick Scott, who earlier in the year killed the state’s high-speed rail project, is still reviewing whether to proceed with SunRail. Scott has said he won’t announce his decision until late summer, though he is being pressured to reject the project by critics from the Tea Party.
“I have consulted with Governor Scott and will work to ensure that approval of the full-funding grant agreement by Congress coincides with his final review of the state’s participation in the project,” said House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park.
The DOT has confirmed that the project will have “a positive impact on improving central Florida transportation, employment, and future development,” Mica added.