Florida bill seeks $2M in funding for smart corridor, autonomous shuttle service
- Florida state Rep. Scott Plakon, R, introduced a bill seeking $2 million in funding to bring a smart corridor with autonomous shuttles to Altamonte Springs, FL. It is expected to go before the Florida House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee today, reports the Orlando Business Journal.
- The Appropriations Project Request describes the smart corridor as a public-private partnership and the autonomous shuttles would run on a route parallel to State Road 436, a frequently-congested thoroughfare through the Orlando suburb. A private partner would operate and maintain the all-electric shuttles and the roads would be maintained by Altamonte Springs.
- In addition to the $2 million from the state, Altamonte Springs would contribute $500,000 to the project, and the remaining $6.2 million would come from the private sector.
The smart corridor project is touted as a way to reduce congestion and the need for parking facilities while connecting residences, retail, offices, health care facilities, commuter train, hotels and tourist destinations. The autonomous shuttles would provide alternative transportation by operating on roads near, but not on, the busy State Road 436.
The total estimated project startup cost is $8.7 million, with yet-to-be-named private sector partner(s) footing about 71% of the bill, according to the Appropriations Project Request. Plakon believes the shuttle service could launch early next year if the funding is secured in this session, reports Florida Politics.
Florida is favorable for autonomous vehicles (AVs) and their testing because of its weather, but the state's car-centric residents also need more transportation alternatives. The lack of a robust transportation network in most Florida cities — and the spread-out, not pedestrian-friendly nature of most urban areas — contributes to high levels of driving and consequent congestion on arterial roadways. The smart corridor in Altamonte Springs could bring some relief to an area frequented by locals and tourists alike. A similar autonomous shuttle service pilot was announced last month for a small smart community in Orlando.
Last year, Mastercard named Altamonte Springs one of the 16 founding cities for the City Possible program. The initiative fosters connections among global cities to find innovative solutions to their problems.
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