SunRail seeks $35M grant to extend service

Commuter rail would extend service north to DeLand

ORLANDO, Fla. – SunRail is hoping to take a big step forward with its expansion plans.

The current end of the northbound line is in DeBary, but SunRail officials on Friday formally requested federal money to extend service to DeLand.

The federal government says it has $500 million in grant money, but SunRail is competing with other requests for the funds.

SunRails says it needs $70 million to finish Phase 2 of the project, seeking half of that in grant money from the federal government.

"We're hearing from the city of DeLand that they're pretty anxious and from the Chamber of Commerce to get this extended to Deland," Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson said.  "We're going to put that application in Friday.  We'll see where it goes.  We'll know more in the fall, and we'll go from there. We're pretty hopeful."

The plan has always been to extend the line, but concerns about low ridership in Volusia County have caused delays.  Supporters, however, say construction on Interstate 4 could change that.

If SunRail receives the grant, the trains could be running to DeLand by 2017, officials said.

SunRail said it should know by this fall whether it received the grant.

Last month, SunRail received a $93 million grant to extend trains south into Osceola County.