Planes, trains, and automobiles: The state of transportation in Lakeland

Catch up on the progress of Lakeland’s transportation projects, from airport updates to possible future railways and road improvements.

An Avelo Aircraft sits on the tarmac with the word "Avelo" painted on its side

You could soon take off on a plane without having to leave Lakeland.

Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Avelo Air

Need a map for the major changes coming to Lakeland’s roads, rails, and airport? Stay updated on these local transportation changes — as well as what could be coming down the pipeline.


Avelo Airlines plans to begin passenger service from Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) around mid-2024. Its first destinations are still under wraps, but our readers hope places like New Haven, CT and Wilmington, DE will be announced soon.

Meanwhile, LAL is making around $3.4 million worth of improvements + additions to the terminal to add security screening checkpoints, plus parking for both passengers and planes. The city also recently approved a five-year agreement with Avis Budget Car Rentals.

Photo of a SunRail train

It would cost around $27 million per mile to extend SunRail west.

Photo via @tnaspen


Polk residents could soon ride the rails on a SunRail train. The possible extension project entered the project development and environment phase in October 2023, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) started seeking out firms to study the extension in January before starting on designs.

If approved, SunRail could extend its western limits from the Poinciana station to Lakeland, with a price tag of up to $1.08 billion. The Polk Transportation Planning Organization is also seeking funds to build a Lakeland Intermodal Center near downtown, which could include train and bus stations.

A time-lapse photo of car lights at night on I-4. The interstate is separated by a median and lined by streetlights.

Get your SunPass ready — FDOT also plans to add express lanes to I-4.


The TPO recently shared its 2023 Year in Review, which includes 34 priority projects. The top priority is reconstructing the interchange between I-4 and State Road 33.

Highways 98 + 92 are also due for upgrades, and construction on West Pipkin Road continues — eastbound lanes are set to reopen this month after being pushed back from January.

Another high priority is adding lanes to I-4 from Highway 27 to the Osceola County line (think: Championsgate). FDOT has earmarked $635 million from the Moving Florida Forward initiative for this project, but work isn’t scheduled to begin until 2027.