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NEWS: Representatives Murphy, Soto, Demings Send Regional Transportation Priorities to Trump Administration

Urge Inclusion of Central Florida Priorities in President’s Infrastructure Plan

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Washington, March 15, 2017 | comments

Today, Representatives Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Darren Soto (FL-9) and Val Demings (FL10) sent a letter to the White House Budget Director outlining regional transportation infrastructure priority projects in Central Florida.  President Trump has made increased infrastructure spending a central part of his agenda. The letter by Reps. Murphy, Soto and Demings provides the Trump Administration with a list of priority transportation infrastructure projects in their region for potential inclusion in any future transportation infrastructure investment program. 

“The greater Orlando metropolitan area is home to numerous high-profile destinations, venues and institutions, and therefore requires a world-class transportation infrastructure network to support the safe and efficient movement of residents and visitors,” said Representatives Murphy, Soto and Demings, “The President has called on Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion infrastructure investment. We look forward to working with the Administration on this initiative, and we hope that these priority transportation infrastructure projects in our region will be included in the President’s forthcoming budget request to Congress.”


March 15, 2017

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Director
White House Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Mulvaney:

The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its annual report card, consistently gives the United States low grades with respect to the state of its infrastructure, including its transportation infrastructure. In the President’s January 2017 inauguration speech, he said: “We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.”  In the President’s February 2017 address to Congress, he reiterated this promise.  He also described the interstate highway system as the “last truly great national infrastructure program”; called for a “new program of national rebuilding”; and said he would ask Congress to approve legislation “that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States—financed through both public and private capital.”

Consistent with these pledges, when the Administration submits its budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2018, we urge you to prioritize new federal investments in the U.S. transportation infrastructure system, providing robust funding to modernize highways, rail systems, bus systems, airports, and bridges.  Smart capital investment in transportation infrastructure can generate economic growth, create jobs, facilitate commerce, and otherwise improve quality of life—reducing traffic congestion, commuting times, and environmental pollution.      

We understand that, at your request, many state and territory governors have provided you with a list of important infrastructure projects in their jurisdictions that could be partially funded by the federal government (and partially funded by state and local governments) as part of any future transportation infrastructure investment program.  As the representatives of three adjacent congressional districts in central Florida, we write to provide our own, non-exhaustive list of priority transportation infrastructure projects in the region. 

Central Florida—in particular, the greater Orlando metropolitan area—is home to numerous high-profile destinations, venues and institutions, and therefore requires a world-class transportation infrastructure network to support the safe and efficient movement of residents and visitors.  In 2014, Orlando became the first metropolitan area in U.S. history to surpass 60 million annual visitors.  Notable locations in our districts include:

Walt Disney World:  The most-visited attraction in the world, with nearly 59 million annual visitors to its entertainment complex

Universal Orlando:  Hosted 18.4 million visitors in 2015, a 12 percent increase over 2014. 

SeaWorld Parks:  Hosted 4.6 million visitors in 2015.

Orange County Convention Center:  The second-largest convention center in the U.S., hosting more than one million people annually.

Colleges and Universities:  The region’s colleges and universities include the University of Central Florida, the second-largest university in the nation when measured by undergraduate student enrollment (55,000) and total undergraduate and graduate student enrollment (64,000).  Also includes Valencia College, with 61,000 students at nine locations in the greater Orlando metropolitan area.

Central Florida Research Park:  The fourth-largest research park in the nation by number of companies, and the seventh-largest by number of employees.

Arenas:  Camping World Stadium, formerly known as the Orlando Citrus Bowl, seats up to 65,000 people; the recently-opened Orlando City Stadium, home to Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC, seats over 25,000 people; and Amway Center, home to the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic, seats up to 20,000 people. 

In preparing the below list of transportation infrastructure priorities in our region, we sought input from counties and cities in our districts, including Orange County, Osceola County, Polk County, Seminole County, Altamonte Springs, Apopka, Auburndale, Belle Isle, Casselberry, Eatonville, Edgewood, Haines City, Kissimmee, Lake Alfred, Lake Mary, Lake Wales, Longwood, Maitland, Oakland, Ocoee, Orlando, Oviedo, Sanford, St. Cloud, Windermere, Winter Garden, Winter Haven, Winter Park, and Winter Springs.  We have the priority lists that each of them provided on file, and are happy to share those lists with the Administration upon request.  Our focus in this letter is on larger regional projects, but we emphasize that we also support funding for more localized project priorities communicated to us by county and city governments within our districts.    

Regional Transportation Infrastructure Priority Projects

SunRail Phase 2:  Construction on Phase 2 South is currently underway, linking Sand Lake Road in Orange County to Poinciana in Osceola County.  The entire Phase 2 South expansion project is a 17.2-mile segment that will add four additional stations to the existing rail system and is expected to be up and running by early 2018.  Phase 2 North will link DeBary in Volusia County to DeLand in Volusia County.  The entire Phase 2 North expansion project is a 12-mile segment that will add one station to the existing rail system.

SunRail Phase 3: Phase 3 will provide a critical 5.5-mile connection from the existing Sunrail train system to Orlando International Airport’s Intermodal Terminal Facility.

Interstate-4 Ultimate Improvement Project:  Often described as the backbone of central Florida’s transportation system, Interstate-4 connects the east and west coasts of Florida, and is heavily traveled by residents, commuters and visitors.  The project known as I-4 Ultimate renovates and improves a 21-mile stretch of I-4 from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to east of State Road 434 in Seminole County.

Interstate-4 Beyond the Ultimate Improvement Project:  The Florida Department of Transportation is currently conducting the I-4 Beyond the Ultimate project development and environment reevaluation study.  This project would involve improvements to approximately 40 miles of I-4, from US 27 in Polk County to State Road 435 in Orange County, and from State Road 434 in Seminole County to State Road 472 in Volusia County.

Orlando International Airport Intermodal Terminal Facility:  The Intermodal Terminal Facility consists of approximately 200,000 square feet of terminal space, accommodating the airport’s automated people mover and three regional rail systems (SunRail, Brightline, and possibly a magnetic levitation system serving the International Drive area).  It will also support ground transportation activity, including taxis, shuttle buses, and public bus operations

Orlando International Airport New Terminal:  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Orlando International Airport is the 11th-busiest airport in the United States, with over 17 million passenger arrivals and 17 million passenger departures in 2016.  The airport is building a new terminal to accommodate increased passenger levels and to alleviate overcrowding. 

These are among the important transportation infrastructure projects in central Florida in need of capital investment, and there are numerous others.  We respectfully ask that you prioritize funding for such projects in your forthcoming budget request to Congress, and we look forward to supporting such funding requests in the appropriations process.  

Sincerely,

/s/ Stephanie Murphy                                          
Member of Congress       

/s/ Darren Soto                                                    
Member of Congress       

/s/ Val Demings
Member of Congress                                                                        

cc:  The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation

 

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