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Moving Forward with Five Modes

Developing the Infrastructure for the Future

By Carrie Stevenson

Central Florida knows how to move. As the only place on earth with five modes of transportation – air, rail, road, sea, and space – our area knows how to send people and parcels from point A to point B. And whether you (or your goods) are heading across the state, out to sea, or into orbit, regional transportation hubs are finding new and better ways to get you there. There’s a shift underway toward greater transport innovation and efficiency in Central Florida, and several public-private partnerships are powering the movement.

Florida is renowned for its sunny skies, and thousands of passengers fly them every day into and out of Orlando and Melbourne. With attractions like Walt Disney World and other resorts, along with the Kennedy Space Center, these airports are the cornerstone of tourism transportation in Central Florida. But beyond bringing visitors to and from our area, they also drive local industry.Executive Director of Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) Greg Donovan, A.A.E., explains: “As one of the very few quadrimodal airports in the world – with access to air, road, rail, waterways and space – MLB is a transportation hub that is very attractive for a wide array of business models. Because of our visionary airport authority board, I predict that we will be hitting full stride with business development and an expanded list of airport partners.”


A number of high powered technology and defense contracting companies already call MLB home, including Fortune 500 tenants such as Harris Corp. and Northrop Grumman, which recently announced an expansion that could create 1,900 new jobs in the area.

MCO’s Bright Future

Multimodal transportation initiatives are taking flight at Orlando International Airport (MCO), where construction is booming on initiatives that will easily move travelers from planes to trains and automobiles. Orlando is the largest rental car market in the world, and the airport has two innovative rental car quick turnaround facilities, with 10 car rental companies located on-site so travelers can quickly and easily hit the road.

Orlando International Airport’s South Airport Intermodal Terminal will also serve in 2017 as a station for Brightline’s higher speed rail service, where it will connect the airport to downtown Miami via the Florida East Coast railway. “Between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm

Beach and Orlando, about 500 million trips are taken annually, and over 95{bfd614f294d07c51b84c8dad33a56885001f0ed7300088ac66752d3246377d5a} of those trips are taken by people in private automobiles, making it one of the most heavily trafficked corridors in the country,” says Mike Reininger, president of Brightline. “We estimate that we will remove approximately three million cars a year from the roads of South and Central Florida as a result of us introducing Brightline. That’s pretty significant if you think about the impact three million less cars will have on just road congestion, not to mention the environment and the economic impact.” And as a privately funded entity, all this transportation innovation is accomplished without Brightline taking a dime from taxpayers.

21st Century Smart Highways

For those still driving themselves across Central Florida’s highways and byways, there is another initiative moving innovation up and costs down. The I-4 Ultimate project is the largest infrastructure project in Florida and includes dynamic smart road technology, leading to faster express lanes with dynamic toll pricing.

Rendering: I-4 Ultimate - I-4 and Maitland Avenue (Night)Russ Handler, Communications Coordinator for SGL Constructors, says, “The Variable Rate Express Lanes or Dynamic Toll Lanes are in use in South Florida, but are a new concept in Central Florida. They give drivers the option to use the lanes for a more reliable trip. Tolls adjust based on real time traffic conditions and are collected at highway speeds using transponder technology. The toll rate, which is based on volume, is designed to reduce congestion, improve mobility and increase trip reliability.”

The project is also a groundbreaking public-private partnerships (P3), a joint venture between the Florida Department of Transportation and I-4 Mobility Partners, a team of several private firms. These partnerships with private industry leaders prompt to greater long term efficiency and enhanced technical innovation, as well as providing the means to address Project funding shortfalls. “This innovative funding approach allows the I-4 Ultimate project to be completed in a fraction of the time it would take to finalize the project under typical FDOT funding methods,” Handler explains. In fact, P3 procurement will allow the I-4 Ultimate project to be built 17 years earlier.

5 Modes to S.O.A.R.R.

Central Florida is the only place in the United States that utilizes all five modes of transportation; sea, outer space, air, auto and rail. This unique distinction of the region will bring in more jobs for Floridians through international trade and aerospace development and create more convenient transportation for international and domestic travelers to soar into new horizons.

shutterstock_229086820SEA-SEA TRANSPORT

The oldest mode for large freight transportation anchoring to be the most cost effective and efficient mode of international trade in Central Florida, up to date.



crs5_dragon_orbit13OUTER SPACE

Central Florida based companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are in manufacturing and R&D stages for commercial and civilian use in outer space, exploring beyond the terrestrial.



Orlando and Melbourne International Airports is a hub for tourism and business transportation in Central Florida.



Rendering: I-4 Ultimate - I-4 and Maitland Avenue (Night)


The I-4 Ultimate Project is a dynamic, smart highway project underway to help alleviate traffic congestion in Central Florida through express toll highway alternatives.



Brightline will allow people to travel to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando in 3 hours or less, granting people the opportunity to invest in the gift of time vs. travel.

The Oldest is Still the Choice

There’s also shift in the currents when it comes to travel by sea. Though it is one of the oldest means of transport, it is still the most cost effective and efficient. With nearly 1,200 miles of coastline, Florida is awash in opportunities for work and play in the water. And when it comes to ports of call, few match the power and prestige of Port Canaveral. As the world’s most popular cruise port, it stands (or rather, floats) as a leader in leisure travel.

PortCargoEvent1Port Canaveral also means business in cargo and trade, too. International trade is one of the pillars of the state economy, with 40 percent of all U.S. exports to Latin and South America coming through Florida. And that puts Port Canaveral in the proverbial sweet spot. Closer to major Florida markets than any other port, and with access to uncongested rail, highway and air space, Port Canaveral is reducing distribution time and costs to the 71 million consumers – residents and tourists – within a three-hour drive.

Beyond the Terrestrial

To truly see the pinnacle of Florida’s transportation industry, you better be prepared for a view from 50,000 feet – or more precisely, 525,000 feet, also known as the start of low-earth orbit.

Central Florida’s excellence in the space industry is world class thanks to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and U.S. Air Force rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, as well as jet research, development and manufacturing in Melbourne. When it comes to space it is not all government programs and military operations, either.

“Over the next ten years, we’ll have two NASA launches that are heavy lift,” says Dale Ketchum, Chief of Strategic Alliance at Space Florida. “But over that same period of time, we’re going to have hundreds of commercial launches. Commercial is what’s really driving most of the significant growth opportunity here.” Private companies are ascending far beyond the stratosphere. SpaceX, founded by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, has flown seven cargo resupply contract missions to the International Space Station and has spent the past six months breaking records for rocket launches and landings, all along Florida’s Space Coast.

dscovr_launch_sunsetIt’s not just the space industry in on the action here, either. “We’ve had two SpaceX boosters returned into Port Canaveral just over the past couple months, which is really very exciting because they’re landing them on drone ships out in the ocean and bringing them back in,” Ketchum says. “And that is just really cool that they’re able to recover those boosters – SpaceX is doing it now and that’s certainly the plan for Blue Origin’s boosters as well.”

Soon, space travel won’t be just for astronauts and scientists. Companies like Blue Origin (started by Amazon.com Inc. Chairman Jeff Bezos) are also aiming to lower the cost of human spaceflight and make space tourism a reality. Blue Origin just broke ground May 17 on a Merritt Island facility that will begin building rockets this summer, a venture expected to bring over 300 jobs and $200 million in infrastructure investment to the area.

In the end, all roads lead home. We are extremely fortunate in Central Florida to have state agencies and regional businesses working together to give these important transportation initiatives the jump start they need without the heavy burden on taxpayers and overstretched state and federal budgets. Central Florida’s collective imagination, technological expertise, and good old fashioned grit are coming together to create a movement in the transportation industry that connects us to points near and very, very far.

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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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