Brightline got the go-ahead Wednesday from the state of Florida to negotiate for land to add high-speed passenger rail service from Orlando to Tampa.
The link envisioned would eventually connect with Brightline’s existing service in South Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation’s procurement office approved an application from Brightline, giving it 90 days to work out terms with the Central Florida Expressway Authority to build the train service along I-4.
As part of its application, Brightline projects the 88-mile route, which would require 44-ft-wide spaces mostly along I-4, would produce about 16,500 temporary jobs during the three years of construction. It would produce about 1,600 permanent jobs, and stations would be expected in Orlando, Tampa and the Celebration and Lakeland areas. The route would go from Orlando International Airport, through Osceola and Polk counties, to downtown Tampa.
Brightline, which now operates between Miami and West Palm Beach, recently signed a deal with new minority investor Virgin Group, with Brightline planning to rename itself Virgin Trains USA.
The idea of a rail line linking Tampa and Orlando was rejected by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 when it was part of a federal expansion of high-speed rail. The governor expressed concerns at the time about cost overruns in the $2.4 billion proposal. But Scott in June announced his administration would seek proposals for an Orlando-to-Tampa route, pointing to the possibility of a privately funded project.
Source: WOFL-TV / News Service of Florida