ORLANDO, Fla. – Driving in Central Florida can be anything but easy. But one group in Orlando is working to make transportation easier throughout Central Florida.
Officials released the Orlando Transportation 2030 Report, Wednesday which helps to outline a blueprint for the region’s transportation future.
The report takes into account current trends and disruptions facing the region, key mobility challenges and opportunities, and successful practices both within Central Florida and nationwide and then outlines seven regional priorities to move Orlando’s transportation system forward.
“From highway to rail corridors, airports to spaceports, Orlando’s extensive transportation network has long provided a foundation for economic growth,” Sean DeMartino, ART board member said.
A 2019 report by Orlando Economic Partnership predicted the Orlando area to “add more than 1,500 people to the region every week for the next 11 years, eventually reaching a population of 5.2 million people.” Leaders behind the report told News 6 that despite the pandemic, they are still projecting that growth for the future, which would put Orlando ahead of Boston in population size by 2030 and Washington D.C. by 2045.
Group members included representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 5, MetroPlan Orlando, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.
“The transportation system does not consistently provide efficient and reliable access to jobs, education, health care, and other services that residents of all ages and abilities in all parts of the region need to thrive,” DeMartino added.
The seven priorities that officials have listed include:
- Build out and speed up regional transit systems to achieve a dramatic increase in access to jobs, education, health care, attractions, and services using public and private mobility solutions.
- Transform all of Interstate 4 by adding capacity and incorporating emerging technologies and design techniques, allowing our region’s ‘main corridor’ to achieve the highest levels of safety, efficiency, and reliability.
- Improve east-west connectivity between key locations throughout Central Florida to support commuting, visitor, and supply chain needs and better integrate our diverse region.
- Strengthen Central Florida’s global gateways for air, space, sea, rail, and highway transportation to support further growth in trade and visitor activity.
- Lead in transportation innovation including automated, connected, electric, and shared vehicle technologies.
- Empower a regional transportation authority to oversee the expansion, management, and operations of regional public transit systems.
- Invest boldly in a shared regional vision for transportation to support communities and a globally competitive economy.
“It’s imperative we begin taking action now,” said Tim Giuliani, President & CEO of Orlando Economic Partnership.
“We must reimagine and reinvent transportation in Central Florida for the 21 Century,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “Achieving these transportation priorities will enhance the safety and security of our transportation system; ensure more equitable access to jobs, schools, and health care for Central Floridians; and increase the competitiveness of our businesses—positioning Orlando for continued prosperity through 2030 and beyond.”
Dyer told News 6 it’s imperative for this kind of planning for the future, as congestion continues to grow.
“If you get into situations where you have to commute an hour or 90 minutes on a somewhat short drive, it’s going to reduce the world you live in,” he said. “Quite honestly, it hurts our tourism economy if we become known as a place like Los Angeles where you can’t get around in.”
The blueprint provides overall strategic direction, with the expectation that priorities and actions will be refined on an ongoing basis, officials said.
Dyer told News 6 progress is already underway with Brightline’s new high-speed rail going through Orlando as well as the new terminal at Orlando International Airport expected to open in about a year and a half.