Brightline, Disney strike deal to build high-speed rail station near Orlando, Florida

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Dive Brief:

  • High-speed rail operator Brightline and the Walt Disney World Resort announced they are planning to build a train station at entertainment complex Disney Springs, which is only a few miles from Walt Disney World’s theme parks, water parks and 25 hotels in the Orlando, Florida, metro area.
  • The concept design for the station, the construction of which is contingent on Brightline securing the necessary government approvals, includes a ground-level lobby, passenger facilities and an upper-level train platform.
  • The new station would serve as a connection to the rail company’s South Florida locations, a potential station in Tampa, Florida, and a new Brightline location at Orlando International Airport. The company’s $2.7 billion, 170-mile OIA expansion from West Palm Beach is expected to be complete in 2022.

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Dive Insight:

Contractors working to expand the rail from South Florida to north to Orlando were able to shave about a year off of a more traditional construction schedule by using a box-jack system instead of conventional methods to build a train tunnel for the new route. The system, never before used in the U.S. outside the Northeast, was suggested by Granite Construction, which has a $557 million contract for a 37-mile portion of the expansion. Granite was able to assemble the tunnel in approximately two weeks instead of a year by pushing two 3,000-pound precast pieces together and into position with special hydraulic jacks.

Brightline also plans to use the same system to build a rail tunnel in Cocoa Beach, Florida, next year.

A new rail line that would connect Tampa to the Brightline system and to Walt Disney World met its first major milestone in 2018 when the Florida DOT gave the rail company permission to negotiate and execute leases along the proposed system’s rights of way property, which is owned by the FDOT and the Central Florida Expressway Authority. The route from downtown Tampa would run primarily along Interstate 4 and would end at OIA.

Brightline also said at the time of the announcement that it also might build a station in Lakeland, Florida, which is about halfway between Tampa and Orlando. In February, it started engineering and design work for the proposed project.

If the plan moves forward, Brightline said construction of the Central Florida expansion could mean $2.4 billion of economic impact for the area and jobs for more than 16,000 construction workers.

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