SUNRAIL EXPANSION OFFERS BIG BENEFITS IN KISSIMMEE/POINCIANA AREA
In less than a year, many Central Florida residents will have a new and convenient option for traveling. Instead of fighting traffic and congestion on Interstate 4, those who live in Kissimmee and Poinciana will be able to get to Orlando, Winter Park and a host of other communities by riding a commuter rail train.
On April 1, 2016, the SunRail commuter rail line held a groundbreaking for the line’s southern expansion, which will move the trains further south into Osceola County.
Upon completion, the route will offer four new stations. Meadow Woods will become the final stop in Orange County, and then the trains will keep going south to the Tupperware Station, downtown Kissimmee Station and the Poinciana Station in Osceola County.
Currently, the 61-mile route runs from Debary in Volusia County to Sand Lake Road in Orlando, and has been in operation since 2014.
Phase 2 Expansion
Phase 2 South will create 17.2 miles of commuter rail service between the Sand Lake Road station and the new one being constructed in Poinciana. That station will be located at the intersection of Orange Blossom Trail and Poinciana Boulevard – a roadway that’s now among the most heavily used in the community, leading to congestion during the morning and late afternoon rush hour periods.
This expansion has been a highly anticipated and a welcomed project in the Kissimmee-Poinciana area. For one, it will offer the rapidly-growing residents a chance to avoid the highway and enjoy the convenience of a train if they want to travel to the Orlando area.
Welcome to Kissimmee/Poinciana
Just as residents will enjoy a new travel option, there’s a reverse benefit as well. People who live outside of Osceola County will be able to conveniently travel here and discover everything that Kissimmee and Poinciana have to offer. That was the case for Winter Park. Since 2014, SunRail has brought more shoppers and day travelers to Winter Park’s Park Avenue, which offers a unique blend of shops, restaurants and museums.
Now it’s Osceola County’s turn to shine. The Poinciana station will include a park and ride lot with a bus drop off to take riders to their next destination. Last year, Kissimmee city leaders broke ground on a four-story Intermodal Center Garage, which is being built next to the Kissimmee Civic Center to serve a future SunRail station. The new 400-space garage is a $10 million project that will also be close to the city’s intermodal bus depot and the Greyhound and Amtrak stations.
Kissimmee/Poinciana’s undiscovered gems
Newcomers who take the Sunrail to Osceola County will discover residential distinctive areas in the area. Kissimmee, for example, is home to Solivita, a community that includes:
- The Oaks Course, an 18-hole golf course bordered by a hundred-year-old oak tree strung with hammocks for shady lounging;
- The Cypress Course, a 6,800-yard golf course that’s also home to lakes complemented by white-sand bunkers;
- The Stonegate Grille, newly renovated, is an elegant restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, overlooking the finishing holes of the Stonegate Golf Club;
- Mosaics Restaurant, a popular spot for banquets and club events;
- The Bistro, a great place for a quick snack for when you’re on-the-go.
In addition to bringing newcomers to Kissimmee/Poinciana, this project could present a major economic boost to Osceola County. Several of the stations on the existing SunRail line have benefitted from new commercial and residential development – businesses eager to be close to the station, finding new customers among the passengers coming off the trains.
The Kissimmee-Poinciana area has already become one of the fastest growing employment centers in the region, and SunRail is likely to accelerate that trend. Since Phase 2 South started construction, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced plans for a third phase, a 5.5-mile extension of SunRail to Orlando International Airport’s Intermodal Transportation Facility, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018. That facility will accommodate ground transportation that will include an express train from Miami to Orlando.
Conclusion: The expansion of SunRail offers plenty of benefits to residents of the Kissimmee/Poinciana area, including:
- Convenient, alternative access to Orlando.
- A potentially faster commute outside of the area.
- The ability of people living outside of Osceola County to discover what Kissimmee/Poinciana has to offer, including the golf courses and restaurants at Solivita.
- The potential for a new burst of economic development close to the train stations.