Full Steam Ahead With All Aboard Florida in Orlando

All Aboard Florida this week got the official thumbs-up from the city of Orlando on several agreements, laying the groundwork for the passenger rail system's final destination.

Coral Gables-based All Aboard Florida finalized several lease and usage agreements with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority late last year, and on Jan. 25, got the sign-off from the city to allow the firm to use land at Orlando International Airport to complete the $3.1 billion intercity train system.

When complete, All Aboard's Brightline train will travel 235 miles from downtown Miami through Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, ending at the Orlando airport. The first phase of the project, which includes all three South Florida stations, already is under way and foundations have been poured at those stations, an All Aboard spokeswoman confirmed to Orlando Business Journal.

Here's the latest on what’s happening with the rail system in Orlando and beyond:

  • All Aboard is upgrading its existing system between Miami and Cocoa, adding capacity to support passenger service and installing new safety enhancements along the route.
  • Construction is under way on the airport’s $215 million Intermodal Transportation Facility, where the Brightline Orlando station will be. Construction manager Turner-Kiewit Joint Venture will build the infrastructure for the Brightline station, including HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, fire alarm, communications/IT and the rail platform. Check out the remaining packages available to subcontractors from Turner-Kiewit Joint Venture.
  • All Aboard earlier this month made its first of an unknown number of installments of $8 million to the aviation authority toward the construction of its station at the intermodal facility.
  • The land lease was finalized for All Aboard to use about 80 acres of airport property to build a vehicle maintenance facility. The agreement includes an option for All Aboard to increase its footprint in the future.
  • Siemens completed the first stainless steel passenger coach car shell, an 85-foot-long car made at Siemens’ Sacramento, Calif., facility. This is part of the first of Brightline's initial five train sets that will carry 240 passengers. Each train set will include four cars. Siemens has been working on this project since fall 2014.
  • All Aboard earlier this month got a one-year extension to try to sell $1.75 million in tax-exempt bonds, a move expected to help the company finalize long-term financing, as reported by sister paper South Florida Business Journal.
  • All Aboard in August got the construction go-ahead from the Federal Railroad Administration on its plans to build 35 miles of new tracks alongside State Road 528 from its sister company's existing freight rail corridor in Cocoa into the Orlando airport. The administration on Aug. 4 issued what’s known as the final environmental impact statement, which was required because All Aboard applied for a loan through the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program.

The Central Florida portion of the passenger rail system is expected to have the biggest impact, with about $400 million in construction value and 6,600 jobs. Archer Western Contractors Ltd. in July was chosen as construction manager for rail infrastructure at the airport, which was expected to create 75 jobs, as OBJ previously reported. All Aboard hasn't released any information yet about construction of the new train tracks.

Brightline is set to begin operations from Miami to West Palm Beach in mid-2017, and the Orlando portion will come online after the airport debuts its Intermodal Transportation Facility, which is expected in late 2017.

Source: Orlando Business Journal

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