5.2 million. That’s how many people are projected to live in the seven Central Florida counties by 2030, 800,000 more than in 2018. To accommodate for more residents, the FDOT has been exploring options for commuter transportation since 2019. US Rep. Darren Soto proposed SunRail stops in Polk back in 2021 — and that’s still on the table.
Fast-forward to 2023, the county’s transportation planning organization is still considering a SunRail expansion in Polk. Here’s what you need to know:
Where would it stop?
SunRail may run through nearby cities like Davenport and Haines City before reaching Lakeland, where stops near the RP Funding Center and downtown Lakeland are being considered.
When would it be complete?
According to George Lindsey — a county commissioner and board chair who resides in Lakeland — an informed decision on the rail’s future in Polk most likely won’t be made for two to three years.
Where are we at in the process?
A study is underway to determine the feasibility of extending SunRail’s line from its current southernmost point — Poinciana — to Lakeland. The study goals include:
- Create cost effective investment
- Ensure equitable mobility for all
- Improve economic growth and access
- Attract riders
- Ensure environmental stewardship
- Improve access to affordable housing
- Ensure continued movement of goods
- Enhance resiliency
- Increase public awareness
Why add commuter rail stops in Polk?
With a goal of increased connectivity and easier access to jobs similar to what larger metro areas offer, the commuter rail system has the potential to provide new modes of transportation to Polk County residents.
What can I do?
Now through the end of February, Polk County is seeking input on an online survey. In just a few minutes, you can learn about the study’s goals, mark station locations you’d like to see, and share what features are important to you.