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CLERMONT, FL-Lake County is asking the state for a total $7.7 million to build two parking garages for 2,000 vehicles and three platform stations for the planned Central Florida Commuter Rail System’s route. The legislature will consider the requests at its regular 60-day session which starts in February.

The garages will cost an estimated $700,000; the rail stations, about $7 million.

This south Lake County city of 16,000 permanent residents, 25 miles west of Downtown Orlando, has an estimated $100 million worth of retail, office, industrial and medical projects either starting or getting off the drawing boards over the next 12 months in the immediate area.

This is the first time rural Lake is asking for funds on projects that are expected to trigger construction of multimillion-dollar commercial projects by private developers and investors as an offshoot to the main undertakings.

Urgently needed say Lake County government planners are two park-and-ride locations near U.S. 27 and State Road 50 in Clermont, one of the most intense commercial development areas in Central Florida.

“Increased traffic is expected to provide highway gridlock in south Lake County and west Orlando over the next five years if a solution isn’t found,” an independent planner not associated with the county’s projects tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

Public transportation or van pooling would take commuters from the park-and-ride locations to their offices or shops in nearby Orlando or Kissimmee.

Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target and various hotel chains are among the national development players discovering Clermont and planning projects here within the next 12 months. Traffic to and from these ventures will further heighten traffic concerns, the county maintains.

Although the county concedes its money request is on a wish list, it will have support from the federal Department of Transportation which already has studied the south Lake County area and noted the potential traffic problems, planners tell GlobeSt.com.

Besides U.S. 27 and State Road 50, the park-and-ride facilities are also expected to alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. 192, the main route to Walt Disney World from Lake County, planners project.

On the commuter train project, preliminary conceptual drawings show the train will run between Eustis, Tavares, Zellwood, Apopka, Ben White Raceway, Altamonte Springs and Downtown Orlando, a 35-mile stretch.

At least $50 million in new commercial ventures are expected to surface once the commuter train stations are in place, a Clermont developer tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

“It would be a natural offshoot since you will have a growing critical mass at those locations,” the developer says.

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