Thursday, March 31, 2011

SunRail Commuter Rail Will Transform Central Florida into a Modern, Sustainable Community, Says Noted Urban Economist

ORLANDO, FL --- The SunRail commuter rail system that will link Orlando with Volusia, Seminole and Osceola communities will transform Central Florida into a modern, sustainable community that will dramatically improve Central Florida’s economy, says David Marks (top right photo), a nationally-recognized urban economist who has amassed a 20-year study of sustainable communities.

Marks, president of Marketplace Advisors, Inc. in Orlando, is preparing a book that details his study, the topic of presentations to policy-maker conferences and seminars throughout the country.

“SunRail’s 61-mile route will eventually define the core of urban living in Central Florida,” Marks said. “For an area of about two-miles from these rail stations (an area of approximately 8,000-acres), we’ll see the sort of urbanization that has made many European communities and some American communities more livable,” he said.

This 120,000-acre SunRail corridor now includes approximately 423,000 people, 16 percent of the region’s 2.6 million residents, and approximately 28 percent of the region’s employees, Marks said. Eventually, these figures should be closer to 50 percent.

SunRail will also reduce the need for road-building efforts in outlying suburban areas and will reduce traffic congestion in our urban areas, Marks said.

“Like most American communities, Central Florida has followed a 20th-century fossil fuel model for growth,” Marks said.

That means thousands of acres of asphalt highways to distant suburban communities and millions of hours wasted driving back and forth to work, not to mention fuel costs and the impact on the environment.

Marks said more sustainable economic policies will eventually lead city and county governments to incentivize growth within the SunRail corridor and dissuade growth from many outlying areas.

The population density for the Central Florida region is now about 0.9 people per land acre, and 3.57 people per land acre for the SunRail corridor, these low densities mean that virtually every adult must own a car, Marks said.

“Boston and Washington, D.C. have a population density of about 19 people per land acre, which is more sustainable,” Marks said. “In Santa Monica, California, density is about 17 people per land acre. In parts of London and Paris, it’s over 100 people per land acre,” he said.

Greater density means more opportunities for walkable communities, multi-model transportation, and community amenities in walking distance, such as parks, swimming pools and athletic fields, Marks said.

“SunRail is a giant leap into a more sustainable future for Central Florida,” Marks said.

For more information,  please contact:  
David Marks, Marketplace Advisors, Inc., 407-694-7040,
Larry Vershel or Beth Payan, Larry Vershel Communications, 407-644-4142

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