Volusia County Council Calls On SunRail To Revisit DeLand Station Completion

By on March 26, 2018 in WNDB News

DeLand, FL – Volusia County Councilmember Pat Patterson has called on the SunRail Commission to include a discussion and vote in its next meeting’s agenda about the funding future of SunRail to DeLand.

On Monday, March 18, District 1 member Pat Patterson sent a letter on behalf of the Volusia County Council to Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission (CFCRC) Chair Bob Dallari outlining the Council’s desires to revisit previously proposed amendments to several commission organizational agreements regarding the lack of federal funding to the second phase of SunRail to DeLand. Patterson, who has championed the Country’s involvement with SunRail for over a decade and is a member of the SunRail Commission, asked that the amendments are sent to other participating local governments for approval once the vote is made. Patterson then asks for the following arrangements to be made:

  • Forward the amendments to the operating agreement to the Florida Department of Transportation FDOT for its approval;
  • Forward Volusia’s proposed amendment to the governance agreement to the member local governments with a recommendation for approval; and,
  • Forward Volusia’s proposed amendment to the funding agreement to FDOT and to the other member local governments with a recommendation for approval.

“The proposed amendments we want them to vote on were offered more than a year ago,” said Patterson. “We have been very patient, but the time has come for the commission and FDOT to engage in this matter. With no federal funding earmarked, it is our opinion that it is impossible for Phase 2 to DeLand to be funded, designed, procured, constructed and certified before the local governments take over the project May 1, 2021.”

The amendments were suggested by the CFCRC on Sept. 29, 2016, and received by the CFCRC on Feb. 15, 2017. The Council seeks to revisit these amendments because they fear that there has been insufficient movement on the proposals and insufficient progress on the completion of the project. According to the County, without action or funding, taxpayers will pay for maintenance on 12 miles of tracks used by CSX and Amtrak, but not by SunRail.

“I will not let the taxpayers of Volusia County pay for something they won’t get,” said Patterson. “It seems painfully obvious that reliance upon any federal funding either through Federal Transit Administration New Starts Program or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (“TIGER”) is wishful at best, and non-existent in reality. We will remain a partner with service to DeBary. But, the time has come that it is acknowledged that there will not be SunRail service to DeLand as was previously promised.”

Once the completion of SunRail to DeLand is addressed, Patterson and the rest of the Volusia County Council listed the following outstanding issues to be discussed:

  • The operating deficit that is over five times what was expected for this year.
  • 20% lower ridership than expected.
  • The ticketing system that is more expensive to operate than generates revenue.
  • Compliance with the Positive Train Control system, which was created to prevent crashes like the ones that recently occurred in Washington and South Carolina.

“The first step to resolving the 12-mile issue is to get the CFCRC to vote and send these amendments up to Tallahassee,” said Patterson.

Photo courtesy of FDOT.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.

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