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SunRail has been a topic of discussion at approximately 30 County Council meetings in the past two years, making it without a doubt one of the most talked about — and challenging — issues since I’ve been on the council. 

And while there isn’t a final resolution yet, I’m pleased to report that things are looking better for DeLand and the greater West Volusia community.

SUNRAIL IN DELAND ALREADY? — Occasionally, SunRail trains — like this one — are spotted at the DeLand Amtrak Station. The Florida Department of Transportation explained that the cars are sometimes brought here for repairs and upgrades on less-busy tracks than those in the Orlando area.

PHOTO COURTESY SARAHROSE MINISTERI

The County Council that was in office at the time voted unanimously in July 2007 to establish a Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission and approve an interlocal funding agreement for SunRail. 

Those decisions committed Volusia County to participating in the funding of the rail system. 

Seven years later, the system began operation in 2014, with service between DeBary and Orange County. Unfortunately, the planned extension of the rail line to DeLand never happened.

Since joining the County Council, my position has been very clear. As long as we’re obligated to help pay for SunRail, we should get what we were promised — a station in DeLand. 

Recently, after much dialogue, a new proposal has emerged to bring SunRail to DeLand — and at a greatly reduced cost.

Initially, the county’s share of the capital costs to establish service to DeLand was estimated at $19.2 million. By altering the plans, the Florida Department of Transportation has come up with an option that brings service to DeLand and decreases the county’s estimated capital costs to $10.5 million. That’s a big change.

Either way, it’s still a lot of money. But it’s also an investment — an investment in our community, our quality of life and our future.

Public transportation is expensive. We will continue to look for ways to reduce the county’s costs. But for what we’re going to pay, DeLand deserves to have SunRail service. That’s what was agreed to, and I’m going to continue doing everything that I can to make it happen.

To be sure, there have been plenty of bumps along the road during the past 13 1/2 years. And there are likely to be more before this is settled. 

I promise to keep readers of The West Volusia Beacon informed, as we hopefully continue down the track of expanded commuter rail service for Volusia County.

In the meantime, I’d like to know what you think. Please email me at BGirtman@volusia.org on this or any other issue of interest or concern.

My inbox is always open!

— Girtman, of DeLand, represents District 1 on the Volusia County Council.

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