Many green initiatives will be presented at the second annual Lake County Green Symposium. One of them will be a green transportation initiative that is actually orange. The Orange Blossom Express is a passenger rail concept that could lead to commuter rail service from Lake County to SunRail in the Orlando metropolitan area.
Rep. Bryan Nelson, Florida House District 38, Apopka, will present an overview of the Orange Blossom Express concept. Nelson has been a champion for the idea of passenger rail service from SunRail into his district and to Lake County.
One of the keys to the success of the Orange Blossom Express concept is the connection to the forthcoming SunRail spine, which begins commuter rail service through Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties in 2013. Providing an explanation of SunRail will be consultant to the Florida Department of Transportation Sandra Gutierrez.
In Lake County, Tavares and Eustis have shown strong support for exploring the freight and
passenger potential of the rail corridor. Eustis City Commissioner William Ferree will talk about the various green initiatives in Eustis, including the city's ongoing examination of rail
opportunities such as the Orange Blossom Express.
The corridor is operated and maintained by rail company Florida Central Railroad. Pete Petree, vice president and general manager of FCRR, will provide an overview of the environmental benefits of utilizing rail as an alternative to trucking.
Moderating the panel is executive director of the Lake~Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization, T.J. Fish. The MPO is responsible for transportation planning and prioritization for the Lake-Sumter region. Fish will also explain a current opportunity to leverage FDOT freight rail funds to make infrastructure improvements to the rail line from in Lake and Orange counties. The pending improvements would provide safety upgrades and intersections and would provide enhanced economic development opportunities for communities along the rail corridor.
The "Green Transportation" panel will be one of several sessions during the two-day
symposium at Mission Inn. The session will be 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.