Orange County Government, Florida

TRANSPORTATION LEADERSHIP

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs has been a leader in transportation issues in Central Florida since she first was elected District 1 County Commissioner in 2000, including service as the immediate past-Chair of the Central Florida Rail Commission. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX). Known until last year as the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA), together with former OOCEA Chairman Walt Ketcham and other board members, Mayor Jacobs was influential in the reform of the OOCEA, as well as the creation via state legislation of the new regional authority, CFX. She also serves as the Chairman of LYNX – an entity undergoing transformational change in adapting to the critical need for mass-transit operations and connectivity.

In her leadership role with each entity, including membership on the MetroPlan Orlando Board, Mayor Jacobs demands transparency of operations and accountability for our citizens and toll-payers. She works collaboratively with elected officials and policy leaders throughout Central Florida to help create, strengthen and maintain the region’s transportation infrastructure.

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA TO PROVIDE
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE
FROM ORLANDO TO MIAMI

Improved transportation systems are transforming Orange County, such as completion of the Wekiva Parkway, the I-4 Ultimate expansion, the growth of SunRail and the creation of an Intermodal Transportation Center at the Orlando International Airport (OIA). A key component of that station hub will be the intra-state rail system All Aboard Florida, providing fast passenger train travel from Miami to Orlando. Driving from Miami to Orlando takes about four hours. The All Aboard Florida train will allow passengers to cover that same distance in about three hours — providing a more productive means of travel.

Mayor Jacobs is a supporter of All Aboard Florida, which will use the existing Florida East Coast Railway corridor between Miami and Cocoa, and build new track along State Road 528 between Cocoa and Orlando. The route will open for service between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2017, with full service from Miami to Orlando following later that year.

In the meantime, All Aboard Florida is constructing modern rail stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Station construction projects at the destination cities are at various stages and each station will be completed in advance of the 2017 launch for Phase 1. A construction manager for the rail infrastructure at OIA was named in July. The Orlando station, as part of the larger intermodal hub, will be ready in advance of the launch of full service.

GREATER ORLANDO AVIATION AUTHORITY INTERMODAL COMPLEX

Plans for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s $1 billion-plus expansion at OIA, including a $215 million intermodal transportation hub and $470 million extension of its automated people mover system, moved forward in 2015. OIA will be the first U.S. airport-based hub with five modes of transportation, supporting air travel, ground transportation and rail service.

The South Airport Intermodal Terminal Facility will be used as a hub for rail projects such as SunRail and the $2.2 billion All Aboard Florida passenger rail from South Florida.

Mayor Jacobs believes the connectivity of transportation assets is critically important to Orange County’s future. She has championed transportation improvements on International Drive, as well as all-important connectivity between our Convention Center and the airport.

She joined regional leaders and elected officials for Gov. Rick Scott’s announcement in 2014 for $213.5 million in funding for the complex project, and said creation of the new station will create construction jobs and generate millions in economic impact.

PROGRESS THROUGH I-4 ULTIMATE

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officially broke ground on the $2.3 billion I-4 Ultimate project in February. By July, two major ramps were closed — the exit ramp to Ivanhoe Boulevard and entrance ramp from South Street — and the transformation was well underway. Mayor Jacobs said that although FDOT is leading the I-4 Ultimate project, it remains vitally important that all of Central Florida’s transportation and regional planning agencies continue to work very closely together on the project. The creation of transportation infrastructure will provide the platform for future generations to flourish and succeed.

The I-4 Ultimate project will rebuild 21 miles of Interstate 4 — from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to east of State Road 434 in Seminole County. The project includes four new express lanes, replacement of more than 140 bridges, the reconfiguration of 15 major interchanges, plus lighting and a pedestrian bridge. Project completion is anticipated in 2021.

I-4 was originally completed in 1965 as the Orlando Expressway and began as an 8.2-mile project from Rio Grande Avenue, just west of the Orange Blossom Trail, to Lee Road. The project took seven years to complete at a cost of $42.2 million.

WEKIVA PARKWAY

In March, a crucial project that will help complete a beltway around metro Orlando’s northwest side was awarded a $194 million loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), the U.S. Department of Transportation announced. Five of the planned 14 sections of the Wekiva Parkway will be funded through the loan. When completed, the nearly $2 billion toll road will stretch 25 miles, from State Road 429 to the intersection of Interstate 4 and State Road 417.

Mayor Jacobs considers the completion of the Wekiva Parkway a key milestone for our entire region. The Wekiva Parkway represents a vital section of transportation infrastructure and completing this project celebrates the commitment to regional collaboration and planning.

The project is a joint effort between the Central Florida Expressway Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The remaining nine sections, which will be located in Lake and Seminole counties, are the responsibility of FDOT.

TRANSPORTATION LEADERS MEET

In January, Mayor Jacobs spoke at the TEAMFL/Florida Transportation Commission (FTC) Annual Joint Meeting, co-hosted by the CFX Corporation. The meeting included updates from the Florida Department of Transportation and Orange County’s partners on Central Florida's roadways.

TEAMFL, the Transportation & Expressway Authority Membership of Florida, was formed to facilitate the exchange of information among toll agencies and the transportation industry. The membership is made up of board members and executive staff of statewide expressway and transit authorities, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Transportation Commission and private sector transportation partners.

WALK-RIDE-THRIVE!
PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PROGRAM

In July, Mayor Jacobs announced the launch of Orange County's pedestrian- and bicycle-safety program, Walk-Ride-Thrive! This new initiative enhances and refines the County's current response to pedestrian and bicyclist safety issues in coordination with other local, regional, state and federal initiatives.

To jumpstart the initiative, $15 million will be allocated for pedestrian safety and intersection improvements over the next five years as part of the INVEST in Our Home for Life initiative. These improvements will provide sidewalks, crosswalks, signals, turn lanes, updated signage and other necessary safety improvements. Additionally, safety projects will be designed and constructed for roadways in the Pine Hills, Oak Ridge and Alafaya Trail areas — all areas with great pedestrian activity.

Earlier this year, Mayor Jacobs joined a nationwide effort to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists by participating in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Mayor's Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets. The challenge is to make roads more pedestrian and bike friendly by incorporating safe and convenient walking and biking measures into transportation projects. Orange County's Walk-Ride-Thrive! program capitalizes on this momentum by establishing a coordinated, comprehensive and consistent response to the pedestrian- and bicyclist-safety issues in Orange County.

Orange County's Sustainability Plan, Our Home for Life, also addresses the issue of pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and outlines incremental and transformative changes for the County through 2040 to improve the quality of life for current and future Orange County residents and visitors. Walk-Ride-Thrive! established a regional plan for reducing pedestrian and bicyclist crashes by improving street safety and creating lasting, positive changes.

ORANGE COUNTY CELEBRATES SUNRAIL’S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Orange County marked the one-year anniversary of SunRail in May with a Sunny Send-off for riders at the Sand Lake SunRail station. Orange County distributed Sunny Delight drinks to citizens and SunRail passengers during the event.

Since it began operating its 31.5-mile route from Debary to Sand Lake Road, SunRail has averaged 4,100 passengers per workday. As construction work begins on the six-year I-4 Ultimate project, SunRail expects even higher ridership as commuters who want to avoid construction traffic jams switch to SunRail during peak times. Currently a 61-mile rail line, SunRail is eyeing Phase 2 expansions, which would include stations in Kissimmee and Poinciana, and as far north as DeLand in Volusia County.

NEW STATE ROAD 50 BRIDGE OVER ECONLOCKHATCHEE RIVER

Pedestrians and bicyclists will be safer thanks to added capacity from a new SR 50 bridge over the Econlockhatchee River. Mayor Jacobs, Congressman John L. Mica and Commissioner Ted B. Edwards broke ground in March on a replacement bridge, which also will allow for future lane expansions. Several students from Illinois State University and Appalachian State University on an “alternative spring break” program were on hand for the community event. The spring-break program matches college students with volunteer work opportunities in warmer climates.