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Denial of SunRail DeLand grant hurt us all

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The announcement that SunRail didn’t get the special grant to extend SunRail to DeLand wasn’t bad news for DeLand.

It was bad news for the Central Florida region, and everyone who understands how much SunRail is a game changer for the Interstate 4 corridor.

Extending SunRail to DeLand would tie together 4 local seats of government. DeLand, being the county seat for Volusia County, Sanford, Orlando and Kissimmee, which will be connected by the end of 2017 with work that is now underway.

SunRail service to DeLand opens a world of expanded economic, employment, educational, social and cultural opportunities. Those opportunities go both ways because there’s a lot to see and do in DeLand.

From the outset DeLand was supposed to be part of SunRail. We need our representatives in Washington to make that happen.

Trying to get TIGER VII grant for the DeLand extension was always a risky proposition because there were so many communities all over the nation competing for that same pot of money. This past summer, though, the TIGER VII grant was our opportunity to get the money.

It was impressive to see the solidarity of support for that grant application. Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer set aside her county’s application for TIGER VII money to improve the chances for the DeLand application.

We know Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has been in there working behind the scenes to support the DeLand extension.

Certainly DeLand and West Volusia County government, business and community leaders worked hard on this. Let’s not forget more than 1,500 people who signed our online petition – many of whom don’t live in DeLand or Volusia County – to get SunRail rolling to DeLand.

Just because we didn’t get this TIGER VII grant is no reason to give up. We know that Congressman John Mica and Congresswoman Corrine Brown – both tireless SunRail supporters – are determined to bring the train to DeLand.

We need to make sure Florida’s entire Washington delegation is onboard because SunRail must run to DeLand. The DeLand extension is just as important as getting weekend service and getting the train extended to Orlando International Airport.

See you on The Rail!