Proposed high speed rail from OIA to South Florida receives pushback over route

ORLANDO, Fla. — A high speed rail will soon connect South Florida to the Orlando International Airport.

However, Brightline Trains are facing pushback on its proposal to expand to Tampa using the right of way along State Road 417 with a stop at Disney in between.

“It seems almost unconscionable to consider such a route when there’s an alternate, primarily industrial corridor down the 528,” said Hunter’s Creek resident Ruthanne Connor-King.

Another part of the opposition believes the train needs to use State Road 528 in order to reach the heart of the international tourist district near the convention center, including SeaWorld and Universal.

On Tuesday, Universal pledged resources to make that happen.

“We will donate land facility for the convention center, a total of 17 acres to be there for this right of way,” said John Sprouls, Executive Vice President of Universal Parks and Resorts.

Brightline has said that it will listen to other proposals, but believes that route will cost an additional $1 billion.

An I-Drive area study put the costs much lower.

The Central Florida Expressway Authority hired an independent study, and found it would cost roughly $600 million at minimum to go to I-Drive and then to Disney, but found it could also cost more than $1 billion.

It’s money Brightline said it won’t be able to cover without outside help.

“We absolutely said if there are those that are willing to bridge that gap, we’re absolutely willing to engage and look at alternative routes,” said Christine Kefauver, Brightline Trains Senior Vice President of Corporate Development.

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Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.