MCO Forges To Expand, Rail Connection Possibility After Pandemic Recession
While expansion at Orlando International Airport has been underway for years, there was no guarantee that the MCO integration would be completed after the pandemic.
Last year, at the height of the confusion, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority cut the budget for the expansion of Terminal C at MCO, even though the project was already more than halfway completed. The move was controversial even among the GOAA board of directors. Fortunately, the worst of it seems to be in the past and the projects are moving forward.
Casandra Matej, President and CEO of Visit Orlando, isn’t expecting a full rebound in local tourism numbers for at least another year, but it looks like the worst of the downturn is now behind us. in a Special Panel Event Focusing on the return of European visitors to Orlando, GOAA CEO Phil Brown spoke to Orlando Weekly About the future of the airport
At the time of last year’s budget cuts, we noted the airport’s strong performance up to 2020. And while last year saw a significant drop in passenger numbers, the airport recovered much faster than many expected. August of 2021 saw passengers only 15% lower than the month-to-month comparisons of 2019. Airport traffic more than doubled from the recession seen in 2020. Things are expected to look better as European travelers can Canadians will re-enter the United States
Now with better passenger numbers, many projects that were cut off last year have been brought back. This is partly due to more than $17.8 million in funding from the state. However, Brown explains, the airport should be careful with its spending as it recovers from the downturn.
“We are working on some additional funding for some additional apron that has been cut out that should help the process once we open again. We have a lot of demand at the gates. So we need to start bringing that back, but we have to get the revenue to keep up with the demand at this point. , “She said.
Terminal C will increase the total number of gates at the airport, which currently has 129, by more than fourteen percent.
Beyond the new gates, Terminal C is also the culmination of a decades-old push to make Orlando International Airport a true multimodal terminal. That will come in mid-2023 when Brightline will begin offering rail service between the airport and southern Florida. After the South Florida to Orlando line is completed, Brightline will turn their attention to connecting to Tampa via the Right of Way on Interstate 4 remaining from the voter-approved but Republican high-speed rail network in an earlier proposal for that lane.
There has been debate over which route Brightline will use to connect between the airport and I-4 with local leaders favoring an extension along the shore line with a potential layover at the Orange County Convention Center while Brightline prefers a slightly more direct route along SAR417. The road, though, provides an opportunity to connect with SunRail.
While she hasn’t publicly considered which route she would prefer, Florida State Representative Anna Escamani, whose district includes areas near the airport and several areas around SunRail terminals, explained to Orlando Weekly It hopes SunRail will connect directly to the airport, regardless of the route selected.
“I’m a staunch advocate of alternative transportation, especially public transportation. I think it’s important for readers to remember that Brightline is private, so Brightline is focused on those who can afford it. It’s important because we hope it eases traffic,” she said. I-4. I think any alternative transportation is positive because it takes traffic and cars out of the way, but at the end of the day, Brightline is not an alternative to investing in something like SunRail, and we have to really hold ourselves accountable for that point.”
She also prefers a route that stops at Disney, noting that removing this stop would make the train’s economic condition more difficult. However, it is hopeful that Orlando’s transit expansions will take into account other areas within the region.
“I really want to make sure that any kind of transportation system doesn’t just bring visitors into the tourism corridor. There is a lot to come to other parts of Central Florida for. Eskamani explains a lot to offer downtown, especially when it comes to arts and culture.” I make sure we have a transfer system that not only prioritizes the biggest players but also includes smaller nonprofits and pop-up or community events. That’s the kind of transportation system I want to see, and that’s why for the airport that’s in Terminal C, I really want to see the Bright Lane and also the SunRail go from downtown to the airport.”
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