• Brightline says it's still on track despite obstacles

    By: Christopher Heath

    Updated:

    Brightline, the high-speed rail from Miami to Orlando, says it is still on track for arrival at Orlando International Airport by early 2022.

    The train, which is still in the process of selling bonds to pay for its construction, has already been operating in South Florida, but will look to submit plans for new track in the next 30-45 days.  

    Part of those plans will be the rail line’s submission of right-of-way plans for laying new track to connect the existing north-south track to the planned east-west track that will run parallel to the Beachline Expressway (State Road 528).


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    In June, Brightline secured approval from the Orange County Commission for its plans along the 528, agreeing to environmental mitigation to offset impacts to wetlands along the route.

    Meanwhile, the train is preparing for another meeting in April of the Florida Development Finance Corp. to secure $2.7 billion in private activity bonds to continue construction.  

    Even as the train seems to be making progress in the funding and construction areas, there remain questions from safety advocates who say the high speed of the train and lack of physical barriers along portions of the route make for a dangerous combination.

    “We have 16 people dead on the section of track where it operates now,” said Susan Mehiel, of the Florida Alliance for Safe Trains.  “We want to know what are you going to do to protect the citizens.”

    Brightline points out that none of the 16 deaths were a result of safety lapses on its part, but says that it has engaged in a safety and awareness campaign to remind people to stay off the tracks.
     

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