• Virgin Trains on track for high-speed rail from Orlando International Airport to Miami

    By: Field Sutton , James Tutten


    ORLANDO, Fla. - Officials with the Orlando International Airport said its high-speed rail link to Miami is on track despite approval for a small portion from Washington, D.C.

    Construction on tracks taking Virgin Trains toward the coast could start any time.

    The Federal Aviation Administration must approve giving up land for the train tracks, according to an application the airport submitted.


    The application has detailed questions about why giving up any land is in the public's best interest.

    The tracks have to come up from one terminal, then cross in front of a runway. The airport is waiting on the FAA to sign off.

    Underneath the final approach path, construction workers could be laying train tracks as soon as next week. It's a key spot for a project that's supposed to ease travel between Orlando and South Florida.

    The project involves land belonging to OIA and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

    "Zone two, which goes through the middle of the terminal, we're anticipating issuing the notice to proceed this week," said Mark Birkebak, director of engineering with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

    The airport authority gave Virgin Trains, formerly Brightline, the green light Wednesday, with a final go-ahead coming later this week.

    But with the formal groundbreaking next Monday, one piece is still missing.

    "It's the last, last-minute finalizing of what the alignment looks like, is what it is," said GOAA CEO Phil Brown. "They are already starting construction in the zone one, which is the maintenance facility in the south."

    Brown said he's confident the train lines can be laid without any delays and closing the deal on paper should happen by December.

    Virgin Trains expects to have service up and running to Miami in 2022.

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