When community and business leaders discuss what the proposed high-speed rail system will mean for the communities along the Interstate 4 corridor, Polk County is
eager to participate. The railway system will stop somewhere in
The question is, where?
According to Nazih Haddad, COO of Florida Rail,
the location decision is based upon a number of factors.
"Ridership is a factor," explains Haddad. "We
want the biggest bang for the buck. We are doing some analysis on
ridership as we speak. The Polk Transportation Planning
s number one choice is USF Polytechnic,
and their second
choice is Kathleen Boulevard. But who we contract for the project will
also affect our decision about where we place Lakeland's stop."
"No matter where it goes, it's going to be a
tremendous opportunity for Polk County," says Jennifer Stults, TPO
director. "You sort of target your growth in a concentrated area of
mixed-use space. In those mixed-use spaces you can have living areas,
commercial and retail all in one compact location. A lot of variety
would make that station a producer and an attractor. With mixed-use you
can attract people from other places as well as have people leaving
their homes to go to work."
the stop ultimately goes, Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields is
ecstatic about the possibilities the high-speed rail system will have on
his community. "The impact to Lakeland across the economic, commercial,
cultural and transportation fronts will be enormous. We have only
uncovered the tip of the iceberg in our comprehension and understanding
about what this can do for our community and the entire region."
Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Nazih Haddad, Florida Rail Office; Jennifer Stults, Polk Transportation
Planning Organization; Gow Fields, City of Lakeland