Brightline moves forward with help of state water agency head

ORLANDO, Fla. — It took Orange County Commissioners less than 20 minutes to approve the environmental impact for 22 miles of right-of-way for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline Train, which will run from Orlando International Airport to Miami.

To build the track, Brightline will need to convert more than 100 acres of wetlands along the Beachline.  The company has agreed to mitigate the loss of wetlands by buying additional lands and deeding them over to the county and conservation district.

Representing All Aboard Florida in front of the commission was John Miklos in his capacity as the president of the private environmental firm, Bio-Tech Consulting. Miklos is also the appointed head of the Saint John’s River Water Management District, a state regulatory board with oversight over central Florida’s water, the same state board that reviewed this project.

9 Investigates attempted to speak with Miklos after the meeting, for clarification about his role and SJRWMD’s role, but he declined our request for an interview.

Staff from SJRWMD, when asked about Miklos’ involvement issued the following statement:

"The district reviewed their application for an environmental resource permit. An environmental resource permit does not go to the governing board. It’s reviewed and issued by staff."

As for the train, Michael Cegelis of Brightline says passengers can expect to see the first train arrive at OIA in 2021.

In 2016, the Florida Commission on Ethics found no probable cause when it investigated Miklos for possible conflicts of interest.