By, Dan Tracy | Orlando Sentinel
A collection of elected and government leaders signed a 10-foot-tall placard Monday signifying that $93 million in federal dollars soon will be spent in Osceola County expanding the SunRail commuter train as far south as Poinciana.
“Ridership will grow, spurring more demand,” predicted Therese McMillan, the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.
SunRail now stop just north of the Osceola line at Sand Lake Road, but construction should start in November on the four stations, plus new tracks for the 17-mile extension.
The new leg is supposed to be up and running by December 2017.
Monday’s gathering, at the Kissimmee Amtrak station, was attended by more than 100 SunRail supporters. A SunRail train idled on the tracks nearby.
The grant had been awarded by the FTA in May and amounts to half the total cost of $186 million. The remainder comes from the state, Osceola and Orange counties.
The money does not affect the proposed northern expansion, which would take the train from DeBary to DeLand. SunRail needs $35 million more from the federal government for DeLand and is hoping for another grant.
SunRail expects about 2,000 riders per day to get on the train in the southern leg. The Osceola link is supposed to stops at the Meadow Woods community in south Orange, near the Tupperware business campus, downtown Kissimmee and Poinciana.