Brightline extension to Orlando is halfway complete

May 20, 2021
The company is aiming to have the 170-mile extension completed by late 2022.

Railroad officials, local leaders and other stakeholders celebrated the 50 percent mark of the Brightline rail extension between the West Palm Beach station and Orlando. The 170-mile extension will bring service to Orlando International Airport.

The company will construct a $100-million vehicle maintenance facility (VMF) on a 62-acre site south of the airport. The future site of that facility served as a backdrop to the celebration event. Attendees marked the occasion by signing a 12-foot, bright yellow stick of steel rail that will be incorporated into Brightline’s track between the airport station and the VMF as a sign of community support.

“Today, Brightline is halfway home to Orlando as we progress toward completion of one of the nation’s largest and most significant transportation projects,” said Brightline CEO Mike Reininger. “This is just one major milestone of Brightline’s progress and investment of more than $4 billion dollars, which serves as a powerful example to those across the country who are calling for the creation of a national high-speed rail network.”

When the Central Florida extension is complete, it will connect Brightline’s 235-mile network between Miami and Orlando. Brightline says it has more than 1,000 construction workers on multiple sites to complete the $4.2-billion project by late 2022.

In May 2019, Brightline named the five contractors that would be constructing the extension between West Palm Beach and Orlando; they include Hubbard Construction Company, Wharton-Smith Inc., The Middlesex Corporation, Granite and HSR Constructors.

So far, workers have put in 3.1 million man-hours worked along the corridor that will include 48 bridges, four tunnels and three trenches. Brightline describes the VMF as the most advanced full maintenance train facility in the region. The 154,500-square-foot facility will be capable of servicing 16 trains per day and will include seven miles of maintenance and storage tracks.

“Today is an impressive showing of support from a broad coalition of our public and private partners and community leaders who recognize the need for high-speed rail in Florida,” said Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline. “Brightline is establishing a new transportation network in our state and unlocking countless benefits related to jobs, the climate and equity.”

Brightline trains are not currently operating between Miami and West Palm Beach following service suspension in late March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A message posted on the company’s suspension information page states, “We remain focused on construction to Orlando and on completing plans to develop additional South Florida stations. The safety and security of our construction team is a top priority and we have taken significant proactive steps, following the lead of the CDC and state and local health officials as it relates to coronavirus, to safely continue construction.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.