Feds Approve Brightline Express Train Extension Between South Florida And Orlando
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a Record of Decision for the second phase of the privately funded Brightline intercity passenger rail project between Miami and Orlando. Brightline is the only new and privately funded train in the country.
The decision represents the last federal environmental approval needed to construct the system between West Palm Beach and Orlando. Brightline, which is planning to start service soon between Miami and West Palm Beach, is now gearing up to start construction north of its first leg.
The decision has been a long time coming. For the past four years, the Federal Railroad Administration, the lead agency for the approval, has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, numerous local agencies, water management districts, cities and counties on formulating policy related to the railroad.
According to Brightline CEO Dave Howard, the company will start construction north to Orlando in the first quarter of 2018.
Over the next few months, Brightline will finalize the design for the rail infrastructure and its 70-acre vehicle maintenance facility that will be on Orlando International Airport property.
Brightline’s station in Orlando will be at the airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility that will be at the future South Terminal complex.
The ITF is connected to the North Terminal by a recently completed, automated people-mover and includes a 5,000-space parking garage. SunRail, Central Florida’s commuter rail system, has a planned connection to the ITF. The completion of the South Terminal will also add 16 new gates for international and domestic flights.