All Aboard Florida Rail Project Chugging AlongAugust 3, 2012 9 comments Print Article
What seemed to be a dream that many believed would eventually fade away appears to be picking up steam. According to Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), All Aboard Florida is envisioned to transform the way people travel throughout the state, offering a faster, safer, and more enjoyable mode of transportation. Here is a brief overview of where the proposed $1 billion privately funded passenger rail project currently stands.
About All Aboard Florida
All Aboard Florida is a proposed passenger rail service which would operate along the Florida East Coast Railway. The proposed service would connect Miami with Orlando, via a roughly 240-mile route along the Atlantic coast north from Miami to Cocoa, where it would turn west towards Orlando. Startup costs are estimated at $1 billion, including a new 40-mile track segment from Cocoa to Orlando. Unlike all other inter-city rail (Amtrak) in the United States the new service would be privately-owned and operated by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI). One segment of the proposed line would operate at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour, meeting the United States Department of Transportation's definition of high speed rail.
Feasibility studies into beginning the service began in late 2011, and by the time of the public announcement had progressed into detailed ridership and engineering studies. Service is planned to begin in 2014; even if the new trackage into Orlando is not completed, connections at Cocoa would be offered. FECI anticipates that project will stimulate 6,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs. One of the goals is to operate the trains with an overall average speed similar to the Acela Express operating on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington, DC, reducing the travel time between Miami and Orlando to three hours and two minutes versus the approximately four hour driving time. Trains will offer a full range of premium amenities including Wi-Fi internet service, gourmet meals and beverage service, comfortable seating, reserved business & coach service seating, luggage & bicycle accommodations and online reservations.
Last month, All Aboard Florida announced that Eugene Skoropowski would be their new senior vice president of passenger rail development. Skoropowski, a 40-year rail veteran, was the director of rail and transit services for the Southeast division of HNTB Corporation. HNTB was one of the engineering firms working on the defunct Tampa/Orlando high speed rail project with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Zyscovich, Inc.
This past week, All Aboard Florida announced that New York-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has been commissioned to be the project's lead architect and planner. According to FECI president Vincent Signorello, "SOM is renowned for its inspiring, award-winning design, strong track record of fostering public consensus, and ability to translate infrastructure investment into regional benefits." SOM most recently designed Denver Union Station, which will redevelop an urban center with retail, commercial, and office space and serve as one of the most comprehensive intermodal transportation projects in the country.
Zyscovich Inc., a Miami-based architectural firm will serve as the project's associate architect and planner. Zyscovich is a name that should be familiar to Jaxons. Under the leadership of Bill Killingsworth, the City of Jacksonville Planning and Development utilized the firm as a consultant for the City of Jacksonville's Urban Core, Southeast, Arlington/Beaches Visioning Plans. Zyscovich Architects' long-standing influence on regional architectural design, municipal planning and major urban developments can be also seen in large-scale projects including the Midtown Miami redevelopment project located along the FEC Corridor; master plans for downtown West Palm Beach, downtown Fort Lauderdale, and downtown Miami; and a rail corridor strategic redevelopment plan for the City of Miami. The firm also has extensive transportation and transit-oriented design experience, such as the New Eldorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia and the Airport City Intermodal public-private development project at Miami International Airport. SOM and Zyscovich have been tasked with developing initial station concepts and their related transit oriented developments (TOD). According to FECI, the firms have started to work immediately on the conceptual development plans for the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando stations.