Solutionaries: Why Florida can’t yet rely on EVs, commuter trains

Solutions journalism aims to find real answers to today’s problems

ORLANDO, Fla. – In Florida, you can’t get far without a car.

Whether you are traveling to work or the grocery store, driving may be your easiest or only option.

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The Environmental Protection Agency said transportation is the leading source of air pollution and carbon pollution in the U.S.

Now, a new study suggests putting more electric vehicles on the road could save thousands of lives over the next three decades.

The American Lung Association found if all gas vehicles were replaced by electric vehicles by 2035, over 89,000 fewer premature deaths would occur in the U.S. by 2050.

But is America ready for an all-EV world?

Correspondent Vic Micolucci is looking into the challenges and solutions in Jacksonville.

Getting on track

As Florida slowly grows its electric vehicle infrastructure, another form of transportation is gaining speed in the Sunshine State: commuter rail.

In Central Florida, rush hour can be a nightmare for drivers — highways backed up as far as the eye can see, construction, tailgaters and traffic lights.

Orlando is a commuter city where a lot of people travel 30 miles to get to work. For some people, the commuter rail is their solution. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

As more and more people move here, local roads and highways become more congested and dangerous.

The Solutionaries team is looking closely at an alternative that could be the key to many of Florida’s transportation problems.

Correspondent Erik Sandoval followed a student from Kissimmee who uses Central Florida’s SunRail system to commute to and from school every day.

Widening Highways

If electric vehicles or commuter trains aren’t an option where you live, that probably means you’re hitting the road.

With so many people behind the wheel of a vehicle, our roads constantly need fixing and expanding.

Here’s the issue: thousands of people are moving to Florida every year and our infrastructure is constantly changing to accommodate more drivers.

For example, the I-4 Ultimate Project was a more than $2.3 billion expansion of Central Florida’s highway backbone, complete with new interchanges, bridges and express lanes.

Construction finished in 2022 but with more lanes comes more traffic.

So when building bigger doesn’t work, what’s the solution?

Let’s look at Houston, Texas where the Solutionaries team is taking a look at how the city thinking a bit differently.

But what about adding new technology to our growing interstates?

Solutionaries correspondent Jenna Zibton is in Virginia where leaders are making changes to a highway that is notorious for gridlock.

Getting Results For Your Tires

If you live in Florida, chances are the town you grew up in or live in now looks different than it did 10 years ago.

Expansion is a way of life here in the Sunshine State and as more people move in, the infrastructure is stressed to the limit.

Between the traffic, hot weather and rain — our roads take a beating.

Our Solutionaries team in Detroit sees this a lot and went looking for people working to create better systems and roads for citizens.

A new episode of Solutionaries is available every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. on News 6 and on News 6+ for your smart TV (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV).

About the Author:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.