High speed rail project has eye on Jacksonville

December 23, 2015 103 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


By: Karen Talley
All Aboard Florida has paid $1.4 million to the Central Florida Expressway Authority to help secure the final easements it needs to make its run from Miami to Orlando. The commuter rail line has also indicated in its contract that an extension to Jacksonville is a real possibility.

When describing how All Aboard Florida will operate, the contract states in a number of places that “it is understood and agreed” that a Jacksonville leg is being considered.

When All Aboard Florida first announced its rail plans in 2012, executives with the company spoke openly about the railroad starting in Miami and reaching upwards to Jacksonville and west from Orlando to Tampa.

The talk cooled as the project progressed and the current plan is to get the system running from Miami to Orlando, with stops in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

All Aboard Florida, a couple of years ago, secured all the easements it needed for its run up the coast from the Florida Department of Transportation. With that in hand, All Aboard Florida is working with the expressway authority to secure rights in Orange County.

The $1.4 million provided by All Aboard Florida went toward the expressway authority’s purchase of three acres from developer Mattamy Properties. The land will be used for the expressway authority’s “Super Corridor” to the coast, of which All Aboard Florida will lease a 50-foot easement. The land is located in east Orlando, south of S.R. 528, west of S.R. 417 and north of Dowden Road.

The real push for All Aboard Florida will come at the end of this month when a nearly 20 mile easement is expected to be granted to the rail carrier by the expressway authority for 99 years.

That easement will be parallel to SR 528, running from Orlando International Airport to the Brevard County line. All Aboard Florida is expected to begin its work in this area by the end of this year and be done Nov. 1, 2017, the contract states.

The $1.4 million for the initial easement rights was assumed on Dec. 1 from the expressway authority.

The agreement’s term is 50 years, starting Dec. 1 and running to Nov. 30, 2065. All Aboard Florida has an option to extend the agreement for 49 years under the same terms and conditions.

Also, under the accord, All Aboard Florida does not get the $1.4 million back if the system does not come to fruition.

Under terms of the contract, All Aboard Florida’s design and construction must take into account and accommodate the planned expansion and improvement of State Road 528, or the Beachline, by the expressway authority.

All Aboard Florida will be putting down tracks, rails, rail-beds, crossovers, and communication and drainage facilities, among other equipment and systems necessary to run the railroad.

During construction, roadway lane closings will be allowed as long as the expressway authority is notified in writing.

All Aboard Florida plans 16 daily departures from both Miami and Orlando, with stops in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach when fully operational. Express trains will be able to make the 235-mile trip between Miami and Orlando in about three hours, traveling at 125 miles per hour, the company says.

Source: GrowthSpotter

Article introduction by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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