Orlando Mayor Dyer uses State of City speech to push SunRail

- Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer gave his annual State of the City speech on Tuesday, and he did not disappoint when he used the line everyone was waiting for early in his 30-minute talk.  "The state of our city, the 'City Beautiful,' is strong and is poised for great things ahead," he said.

The speech was about how to make Orlando the model city for the 21st century in the same way that cities like New York was built on manufacturing in the 19th century, and San Francisco on technology in the 20th.

For Dyer, Orlando's key is transportation and it starts with SunRail.  "It's up to us to make it a reality, beginning with SunRail. The faster we grow SunRail ridership, the faster this future arrives."

Ridership has been a big concern for transit supporters because SunRail continues to slog down the track with 10 percent fewer riders than projected. The mayor handed out free SunRail tickets at his speech and encouraged the downtown elite to use it.

"If people would just give it a try rather than driving in on I-4 and taking whatever time that takes to get in on a given day. I think they will find it a very desirable way to get to downtown."

The long term goal is to expand SunRail service to nights and weekends, something the Mayor knows is a huge challenge and expense.

"When we extend SunRail to reach the airport, it is not only a possibility, it will have to happen because at that point you will have to have 7-day service. You will have to have more frequent service if people are going to go to catch flights at the airport, to be successful then you are definitely going to have to expand service."

The mayor did make some other news during his speech -- he declared that Commissioner Patty Sheehan will lead the effort on Orlando's newest park, Constitution Green. The goal is to make that park a dog park.

He also told the media after the speech that another upcoming park won't be ready for a long time.  Under Eye is a new park that will have a soccer field, shuffleboard, and more, all under four blocks on Interstate 4 in downtown Orlando. The Mayor says construction on that park is not likely to start until at least 2021, but they will plan and design that park in the interim.

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