- Central Florida just got one step closer to scoring high-speed passenger rail service between Orlando and Tampa after the Florida DOT gave rail company Brightline permission to negotiate land leases along the proposed system’s rights of way for land owned by the FDOT and the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX).
- According to Brightline’s application to the FDOT, the company’s proposed route would be based on an extension of its planned Miami to Orlando line. The Central Florida segment would start at Orlando International Airport and travel mostly along the Interstate 4 corridor into downtown Tampa. In addition to the rail itself, Brightline outlined plans to build stations in Tampa, Orlando and Lakeland (the near-midway point), and possibly one near The Walt Disney World Resort. The company plans to engineer 30% of the project design and then contract the remainder under a design-build contract.
- Brightline reiterated its plan to privately finance construction and operations, and the company estimated that the rail construction alone would have an economic impact of $2.4 billion in Central Florida, with a projected gross domestic product of $1.3 billion and federal, state and local tax revenue generation of $270 million. Operations would generate more than $1 billion in additional economic benefits for the region. During the course of construction, which is expected to take place from 2021 to 2024, Brightline expects the project to create jobs for 16,500 workers.
Back in March, Brightline presented the FDOT with an unsolicited proposal for the Central Florida project. The concept won the support of outgoing Florida Gov. Rick Scott because it would require no public funding. Scott turned down $2.5 billion of federal money in 2011 for a high-speed rail system along the same route.
Texas Central Partners is also privately financing a $12 billion to $15 billion high-speed rail system between Houston and Dallas. While many of those living in and between Dallas and Houston back the rail, some landowners who don’t want to see the route run through or near their homes and property have launched public relations and legal battles against Texas Central.
The company, however, has pushed ahead and has tapped Lane Construction Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Italian construction and engineering firm Salini Impregilo, to lead civil construction. Earlier this year, Texas Central named Bechtel as project manager and also announced that Fluor Enterprises, Lane and WSP USA would be part of the preconstruction planning and engineering team.