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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced yesterday a $93.4 million federal grant agreement to extend SunRail commuter-rail service 17.2 miles from southern Orlando to Osceola County, Fla.The extension is designed to provide faster and more efficient transportation to jobs, cultural venues and retail destinations in downtown Orlando and throughout central Florida, FTA officials said in a press release.The agreement commits $93.4 million in funding from FTA's Capital Investment Grant Program. The amount represents half of the project's $186.9 million cost. The state of Florida and Orange and Osceola counties will cover the remaining costs.The extension Phase II South commuter-rail line extension will run from south of Orlando through Kissimmee to Poinciana in Osceola County. SunRail estimates the extension will provide 2,000 daily linked trips when it opens in 2019. The project will include four new commuter-rail stations; the purchase of two locomotives and four passenger cars; and the construction of a vehicle storage and maintenance facility. The extension will improve transit service to areas including the Orlando Central Business District, and through transit connections to the Orlando International Airport, Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and the Lake Nona mixed-use commercial community."We will continue to support important projects like this that provide 21st century transportation options designed to meet the needs of Central Florida’s growing population," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release.FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announced the grant agreement during a ceremony held in Kissimmee. Also attending the ceremony were House Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.); other congressional representatives of Florida; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and officials from the Florida Department of Transportation and SunRail.
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