Attention Brightline passengers: the route ahead is clear and you’ll be moving shortly on your way to Orlando.
Federal officials lifted the final regulatory crossing gate on the Brightline train’s proposed service linking South Florida and Orlando on Friday, clearing the way for construction to start in the next couple months.
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday gave the final go-ahead in its National Environmental Policy Act review of the plan to extend the train line north of West Palm Beach to Central Florida.
Brightline, the only privately owned and operated passenger rail system in the U.S., already had approval for the southern portion of its route, and is ready to start service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. It expects service to extend south from Fort Lauderdale and into downtown Miami by early in the new year as well.
But it was awaiting federal approval, now given, to begin construction on rails northward to Orlando.
— Brightline (@GoBrightline) December 15, 2017
“This is the most critical and final step in the extension of Brightline’s service to Orlando, and we are excited to move forward with Phase 2,” Dave Howard, Brightline’s CEO, said in a statement after the DOT announced the decision. “This was a great year for us as we completed construction on two of our major stations and rail infrastructure, successfully pre-sold tickets and corporate packages to individuals and businesses throughout the region and priced $600 million in Private Activity Bonds to fund Phase 1. We look forward to launching service to Miami and starting construction north to Orlando in the first quarter of 2018.”
Brightline’s Orlando station is adjacent to Orlando International Airport, and will be connected to the North Terminal by a people mover. It also will connect from the Orlando station to SunRail, Central Florida’s commuter rail system.