Solving Key Transportation Issues Through Collaboration

All around us, we see the beginnings of what is to come. Bulldozers and cranes are raising a new terminal at Orlando International Airport that will one day soon welcome tens of thousands of visitors for business and pleasure. Down the escalators and past the automated people movers at the new intermodal facility, you can see the platform where eventually you’ll be able to board a Virgin Trains USA rail car to Miami and perhaps Tampa.

Construction and improvements on Interstate 4, State Road 528, State Road 408 and the Wekiva Parkway are underway. To our east, Port Canaveral is expanding its cruise, shipping, spaceport and recreation infrastructure. Orlando Sanford International Airport is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar expansion. SunRail just opened stations in Osceola County, and SunTrax is under construction in Polk County.

The Orlando region continues to keep up with its phenomenal growth by investing more than $10 billion in infrastructure assets. The level of collaboration on these massive projects is part of our DNA as a community and region. The need for cooperation will only intensify as we consider the future.

Our region is growing by 1,500 people per week, and by 2030 our population is projected to reach 5.2 million. We’ll have to add almost 500,000 new jobs. There will be, potentially, at least 600,000 more personal vehicles traveling on our roads. More than 57 million people will be flying into and out of the region a year. That’s close to the number of people who fly through JFK International Airport in New York today.

I think it’s safe to say our region will look very different in the future. Our vision is to expand our transportation solutions by enhancing options for all of our residents, reducing congestion that impedes our growth and collectively supporting initiatives that propel our progress.

Transportation is a critical factor in creating a foundation for broad-based prosperity. That’s why the Orlando Economic Partnership created the Alliance for Regional Transportation (ART).

ART is a business-driven collaboration, bringing together a high-level group of transportation, business and community-building stakeholders to serve the seven-county region by engaging, educating and advocating for appropriate public and private projects. We focus on planning, infrastructure and technology supporting long-term economic growth and regional broad-based prosperity.

ART’s members include representatives from the partnership’s investors, the business community, local governments, regional planning agencies and chambers of commerce. Also contributing to ART’s mission are partners who implement and manage transportation solutions including Florida Department of Transportation Districts 1 and 5, the region’s airports, Space Florida, NASA, Port Canaveral, Lynx and other transit agencies, the Central Florida Expressway Authority, Florida’s Turnpike, SunRail and Virgin Trains USA.

As we continue our rapid growth and receive more visitors each year, it’s imperative we stay focused on moving people both across the region and across the street.

We are aware of the trends: autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, the internet of things … the list goes on. All are disrupters in an economy that is quickly changing how we do business, how we interact and how we travel. How we respond to those disrupters is the challenge we face.

There are transformative possibilities on the horizon. For example, Orlando was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation as an autonomous vehicle testing ground. This will inspire innovations that can transform our personal and commercial mobility.

Autonomous vehicles can expand capacity and improve safety, and the technology is already being tested here. Companies like Luminar are leveraging the intellectual capital in the modeling, simulation and training industry to develop smart sensors that are essentially the eyes of an autonomous vehicle.

With the ability to extensively and collaboratively mine regional data, collected from both residents and visitors, Central Florida can establish a well-informed, diverse and inclusive community where everyone prospers. The Orlando region is all about innovation. As technology advances, our wildest dreams are becoming reality.

Our future growth demands we take the responsibility for making critical decisions today that ensure we can finance and provide the right infrastructure for tomorrow. From coast to coast in Central Florida, billions of dollars will be needed to expand what we have and create new modes and means of travel. We do this for our future generations.

About the author

Jim Hartmann

Jim Hartmann

Jim Hartmann is a consultant for the Orlando Economic Partnership and its Alliance for Regional Transportation. He has more than 30 years of experience in the public sector and formerly served as the county manager in Seminole County before moving to Raleigh, N.C., where he served as the county manager in Wake County.

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