Brightline is halfway to Orlando – is Tampa next?

The event Wednesday at Brightline's partially completed vehicle maintenance facility near Orlando International Airport included company officials, politicians and dozens of workers in hard hats. (Spectrum News/Pete Reinwald)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The company that is promising bullet trains from South Florida to Orlando by the end of next year announced itself halfway home on Wednesday.

What you need to know

  • Brightline, a private rail passenger company, is halfway through its South Florida-Orlando expansion
  • Officials applaud the project as a blessing to the roads, the environment and the economy of central Florida
  • The company emphasizes its next major goal: “We have to go to Tampa for this project”

During a festive announcement of its $ 100 million partially built vehicle maintenance facility, Brightline was more than 50% complete on its rail line connecting West Palm Beach with Orlando International Airport.

“Today we are halfway to Orlando as we progress towards the completion of one of the country’s premier transportation projects,” said Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline, to a crowd that included politicians and dozens of hard-hatched workers.

Officials hailed the project as a boon to the roads, economy and the environment of central Florida with trains running on clean biodiesel. They said it would cut car use, reduce traffic jams and emissions, and create more than 2,000 jobs in Florida after construction.

According to Brightline, railroad construction to Orlando employs more than 1,000 workers and 160 skilled and so-called craftsmen in the 154,500 square meter vehicle maintenance facility south of Orlando International.

The company also says its trains travel up to 125 mph and will get passengers from Orlando to Miami in about three hours.

CEO Reininger praised the project as “a strong example for those across the country who are calling for the creation of a national high-speed rail network”.

The project is another effort amid climate change and increasing crowds to make central Florida a vital part of a high-tech transportation system.

Late last year, Orlando city officials, Lilium and the Tavistock Development Company announced plans for an urban and regional air mobility network that would include electrically powered jets that take off and land vertically, connecting Orlando to cities across the Florida peninsula by 2025.

Celebratory scenes on Wednesday from Brightline’s partially completed vehicle maintenance facility as the company announced the status of its high-speed line that will connect South Florida to Orlando International. Speakers included the Mayor of Orlando Dyer and the Mayor of Orange County, Demings.

– Pete Reinwald, News 13 (@petereinwald) May 19, 2021

Brightline says its expansion will connect Orlando to current operations in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami – with a future goal of connecting Orlando to Disney World and Tampa.

“We have to go to Tampa for this project,” said Mike Cegelis, executive vice president of development and construction at Brightline. “Connecting South Florida with Orlando is a big deal. But we’re not going to overdo this and have an attached rail system in our state unless we connect to Tampa. “

Reininger said the network aims to “connect city pairs that are too short to fly and too long to drive”.

Celebrations at Wednesday’s event included the signing of a 12-foot rail by dignitaries and others that Brightline says will become part of the 170-mile extension.

“It’s a time to celebrate some milestones and look forward to the train pulling into the station,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told Spectrum News after the event.

“This is the wave of the future,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told us. “It’s environmentally friendly for us because we get people out of cars that lead to traffic jams on our roads. It creates jobs that will be here after the completion of this construction project. “

But not everyone is happy with it. Community groups in Hunter’s Creek, north of Kissimmee, are reportedly planning to fight Brightline over the proposed tracks along State Road 417. They cite safety, noise, and property value concerns.

Reininger said his company had “some meetings” with Hunter’s Creek groups.

“When we built the system across the state of Florida today, we have different communities and metropolitan areas, etc. event. “We listen carefully to concerns any community or homeowners association may have.”

Joseph Hubbard

Joseph Hubbard is a seasoned journalist passionate about uncovering stories and reporting on events that shape our world. With a strong background in journalism, he has dedicated his career to providing accurate, unbiased, and insightful news coverage to the public.

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