Brightline can finally begin construction on Phase 2, their new line of tracks to Orlando after gaining federal approval from the U.S. DOT for the transit line. Construction on Phase 2 is expected to kick off in early 2018. Service is expected to soon commence between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, adding service to Miami soon after. On December 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a Record of Decision for the privately funded Brightline intercity passenger rail project between Miami and Orlando. The Record of Decision (ROD) represents the final step in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process after the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was issued in 2015 and is the last federal environmental approval needed to construct the system between West Palm Beach and Orlando. This decision marks the achievement of another significant milestones for the company as it gears up to launch Phase 1 of its service and start construction north of West Palm Beach. Over the past 4 years, The Federal Railroad Administration worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard, along with local authorities, cities and counties, on the project's development and issuance of the FEIS. Brightline’s station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility (ITF) that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex. The ITF is connected to the North Terminal by a recently completed Automated People Mover and includes a 5,000-space parking garage. SunRail, Central Florida’s commuter rail system, has a planned connection to the ITF. Over the next few months, Brightline will finalize the design for the rail infrastructure and the 70-acre Vehicle Maintenance Facility which will be located on Orlando International Airport property. Construction of the system will create thousands of jobs and provide a much-needed link between Florida’s two most visited and populated regions.
“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,” said Dave Howard, Brightline’s CEO. “This was a great year for us as we completed construction on two of our major stations and rail infrastructure, successfully presold 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.”