TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Brightline’s long-awaited expansion into the Tampa area is one step closer to reality as local officials toured the rail company’s facilities on Monday.
A group of elected officials, led by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, joined members of the Tampa Bay Partnership and business leaders as they traveled to three Brightline stations.
Officials toured the West Palm Beach station, which is “similar in scope to a future Tampa station,” according to a news release from Brightline. There is no official word on where the Tampa station will be built, but the proposed Orlando-to-Tampa line is expected to be constructed within the right-of-way of the Interstate-4 median and existing transportation corridors.
Castor noted that the stretch of I-4 between Orlando and Tampa is one of the most dangerous in the U.S. Taking more cars off the road not only means less congestion, according to Castor – it can also keep drivers safe.
“I can’t imagine, with the group that we had today, that there are any reservations at all about the value of Brightline coming into our area,” Castor told NBC affiliate WESH. “But if there is even any type of doubt, it will be erased on that bus ride back to Tampa on I-4.”
Brightline and Central Florida’s Sunshine Corridor were awarded up to $15.9 million in federal funds last year as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program.
The high-speed passenger train runs between Miami and Orlando, reaching a maximum speed of 125 mph. The trip takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes, according to Brightline’s booking website.