Brightline’s Tampa rail line receives a burst of funding

Written by RT&S Staff
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Brightline will receive $25 million, which will go towards safety enhancements at grade crossings.

Florida officials announced that the central Florida region has received a grant award of up to $15,875,000 in federal funding from the U.S. DOT’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program.

The funding will go toward central Florida’s Sunshine Corridor and Brightline’s proposed Tampa-to-Orlando intercity passenger rail project. The grant award, combined with up to $15,875,000 in contributing funds from Brightline, will result in almost a $32 million total investment. The grant application received substantial community and bipartisan support.

The grant award will support the preliminary engineering activities and environmental approvals required to construct an intercity passenger rail system between Orlando International Airport and Tampa. The activities will include completing 15% and 30% engineering design for a completely grade-separated, mostly double-tracked railway built within the right-of-way of the I-4 median and other existing transportation corridors.

Brightline is currently operating between Miami and West Palm Beach and constructing an extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando, which is expected to be complete at the end of 2022 and carry passengers in 2023. An extension to Tampa is the next step in connecting 70% of the state’s population by Brightline.

“The Sunshine Corridor is a comprehensive, ambitious transportation solution for central Florida. It represents the missing link in Brightline’s plan to connect Orlando and Tampa with modern, eco-friendly, intercity passenger rail,” said Brightline Chief Executive Officer Michael Reininger. “New, innovative transportation solutions will provide an economic boost to central Florida and makes the state even more attractive to businesses and future residents.”

Central Florida is projected to experience significant growth in population, employment, and tourism over the next decade, which will increase the demands and congestion on current roadways. Currently, travel between Tampa and Orlando is mainly by I-4, which recent studies identified as the deadliest road in America. Intercity passenger rail is a vital tool to help the state manage future growth under constrained conditions that limit the ability to expand highways.

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