Author Topic: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa  (Read 108002 times)

Pottsburg

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #315 on: March 10, 2021, 05:35:14 PM »
^ Curious, if FEC has Brightline running on its tracks, how much more of a leap is it to handle Amtrak?  Is there room in the ROW to add a dedicated passenger rail track to avoid most conflicts with freight?

Seems a stop in St. Augustine would be similar to the Sun Rail/Amtrak stop in Winter Park in terms of ambiance and positioning.  How is that stop working out for the rail lines and Winter Park?

   To your first question, they would have to upgrade the crossings from Cocoa to Jacksonville in order to run the Amtrak faster than 60 miles an hour. Also they would have to go back on all the work they’ve done from Cocoa to Miami and rip out all the new crossings to fit a third track. That’s not gonna happen. 
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #316 on: March 10, 2021, 05:59:56 PM »
^ Do they even have the ROW for three tracks? Honestly, the only way I could see Brightline adding anything else to what they've already built or likely to build is if they end up expanding to Atlanta or something in another decade, and the expected passenger numbers somehow justify it.
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thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #317 on: March 10, 2021, 06:50:43 PM »
Yes they have the ROW and yes it's possible for intercity rail, Brightline and/or Amtrak to run down the FEC into Jax. The question that remains to be answered is if it is worth it from a financial, liability and ridership perspective.  Time will tell on that one.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2021, 06:59:19 PM by thelakelander »
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #318 on: March 10, 2021, 07:58:58 PM »
^ Curious, if FEC has Brightline running on its tracks, how much more of a leap is it to handle Amtrak?  Is there room in the ROW to add a dedicated passenger rail track to avoid most conflicts with freight?

Seems a stop in St. Augustine would be similar to the Sun Rail/Amtrak stop in Winter Park in terms of ambiance and positioning.  How is that stop working out for the rail lines and Winter Park?

   To your first question, they would have to upgrade the crossings from Cocoa to Jacksonville in order to run the Amtrak faster than 60 miles an hour. Also they would have to go back on all the work they’ve done from Cocoa to Miami and rip out all the new crossings to fit a third track. That’s not gonna happen.

Yes they have the ROW and yes it's possible for intercity rail, Brightline and/or Amtrak to run down the FEC into Jax. The question that remains to be answered is if it is worth it from a financial, liability and ridership perspective.  Time will tell on that one.

Thanks for the info.  To be clear, Pottsburg, are you saying that Amtrak would require upgrades beyond what Brightline would require?

Also, if Brightline is willing to pay for a brand new rail from Cocoa to Tampa (at some point) where they also have to establish new ROW rights and pathways, why wouldn't they be willing to do so within the already existing FEC ROW?  I get that its not inexpensive but, if the traffic demand might be there, why not leave that option on the table?

CityLife

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #319 on: March 11, 2021, 10:03:02 AM »
Odds are Brightline just needs to start donating to political campaigns, same way the road builders and real estate developers do, and things will generally fall into place. Whether it's the old FEC station or a new one at Carrera Street, I would be surprised if they really said no to "luxury" ~4-story, historically-styled apartments along the mainline. If Brightline proposed building a high rise like what they have in WPB (they won't), then maybe the tune would be different.

Lol. That is not how things work in real life in St. Augustine and many other places. St. Augustine's 5 member commission is made up of three historic preservationists as Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and councilmember and a professor of natural sciences at Flagler that is an staunch environmentalist. There are countless developers that would love to build large  or even medium multi-family projects in the city of St. Augustine, but yet there are none. The citizens of St. Augustine will only elect people that have come up through the ranks of their historic preservation boards and groups. These are people that do not need and would not take bribes and they run solely on the platform of protecting the character of St. Augustine.

But that's beside the point. It's extremely difficult to assemble enough land in the core of St. Augustine for anything with a substantial amount of units that is under 6 stories. For comparison, Vista Brooklyn is 308 units and is 10 stories. The monstrosity at River City is only 335 units. The senior housing at Newnan and Ashley is 6 stories with only 120 units (and a low parking count). The Southbank Apartments are only 185 units (is underparked) and is 7 stories.  Brightline will need a bare minimum of 200 units to make it worth their while.

Like I said, the most feasible option is going outside of the city limits and that is near the airport in unincorporated SJC and that isn't going to move the needle for Brightline.

« Last Edit: March 11, 2021, 10:20:28 AM by CityLife »

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #320 on: March 11, 2021, 10:43:55 AM »
The closest logical spot for a Brightline station in St. Augustine would be the former FEC train station at US 1 and San Marco Avenue, a mile or two north of the historic district. That's one of the larger undeveloped tracts of land in St. Augustine and they already own it. I'm not sure that it would be dramatically different from the sites they are considering in Brevard and St. Lucie.
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CityLife

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #321 on: March 11, 2021, 11:03:37 AM »
^That's roughly 2.5 miles to Flagler College on US-1 and 2 miles to Castillo on San Marco. I just don't think premium multi-family works in St. Augustine unless it's in walking distance to the historic district.

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #322 on: March 11, 2021, 11:36:48 AM »
The historic district along San Marco Avenue extends quite a bit north of Flagler. Definitely up to SR A1A and the Vilano Bridge. Nevertheless, there's very little difference between a St. Augustine site and those being considered along the Space Coast. Cocoa's station will be next to a Walmart:

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/all-aboard-florida/2019/10/25/virgin-trains-likely-pursue-station-cocoa-and-leaning-toward-stuart/4092824002/

If something in that area can work, then something similar may be feasible in St. Augustine on the edge of the walkable historic stretch along San Marco Avenue.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2021, 11:44:14 AM by thelakelander »
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CityLife

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #323 on: March 11, 2021, 12:32:11 PM »
There is a difference between building stations (and TOD) along the existing path of Brightline, and completely extending service to reach Jax/St. Auggie/Daytona though. The initial point I was making was that NE Fla has to make it very desirable for Brightline to extend. Daytona isn't that sexy, though you did make a good point about ridership to events there; St. Auggie, while a great tourism location, doesn't have an ideal spot or opportunity for dense, walkable TOD, imo; Jax has tons of TOD potential, but can't get out of it's own way.

Goes back to my original point that Jax has to be the driver of the expansion and give Brightline no other option but to come. Throw some of that new gas tax money at a Brightline station, offer them the royal treatment for TOD incentives, profit. 

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #324 on: March 11, 2021, 01:29:53 PM »
I guess from my perspective, based on their original plan and what they've done to date, Jax is a part of their plan. They already secured the rights to expand on the FEC into Jax. Even the selection of the Cocoa station site was done with an eventual northward expansion in mind. I definitely agree with you that Jax is the ultimate answer to when that happens.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2021, 01:31:43 PM by thelakelander »
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #325 on: March 11, 2021, 02:16:54 PM »
There is a difference between building stations (and TOD) along the existing path of Brightline, and completely extending service to reach Jax/St. Auggie/Daytona though. The initial point I was making was that NE Fla has to make it very desirable for Brightline to extend. Daytona isn't that sexy, though you did make a good point about ridership to events there; St. Auggie, while a great tourism location, doesn't have an ideal spot or opportunity for dense, walkable TOD, imo; Jax has tons of TOD potential, but can't get out of it's own way.

Goes back to my original point that Jax has to be the driver of the expansion and give Brightline no other option but to come. Throw some of that new gas tax money at a Brightline station, offer them the royal treatment for TOD incentives, profit.

My observation is that Daytona-Orlando is becoming a merging "metro" area with many already commuting between the two.  Could a subset of Tampa-Orlando-Daytona (the I-4 corridor) be used to support part of the line to Jax (i.e. Cocoa-Daytona segment)?

WAJAS

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #326 on: March 11, 2021, 04:50:44 PM »
Don't people commute between Jacksonville and St. Augustine? That could be a portion of the ridership, like what they are doing in South Florida. In fact, the most likely way to get commuter rail in Jacksonville might be through Brightline as the operator, like the Tri-rail Coastal Link in South Florida.

FlaBoy

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #327 on: March 11, 2021, 05:26:06 PM »
Don't people commute between Jacksonville and St. Augustine? That could be a portion of the ridership, like what they are doing in South Florida. In fact, the most likely way to get commuter rail in Jacksonville might be through Brightline as the operator, like the Tri-rail Coastal Link in South Florida.

There just isn't the population base to really make it work in my opinion yet. Brightline will be the closest thing for the next decde if they put a stop in St. Augustine. However, for commuter rail, you would really need another stop (which is unlikely without a big push) maybe near the Avenues Mall or Nocatee.

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #328 on: March 11, 2021, 05:57:52 PM »
Yeah, there's no population base or land use strategy in place to make commuter rail feasible between Jax and St. Augustine at this time. The best bet is to hope for an intercity rail line that also happens to have stops in DT Jax and St. Augustine. If something like an intercity corridor service was in place, maybe you end up with a stop in a location like Avenues Walk. Get stops in DT, Avenues Walk and St. Augustine and then I'd question if commuter rail on the FEC would ever make sense. After all, the First Coast Flyer already runs down Philips between Avenues Walk and Downtown.
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Pottsburg

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #329 on: March 11, 2021, 10:17:44 PM »
^ Curious, if FEC has Brightline running on its tracks, how much more of a leap is it to handle Amtrak?  Is there room in the ROW to add a dedicated passenger rail track to avoid most conflicts with freight?

Seems a stop in St. Augustine would be similar to the Sun Rail/Amtrak stop in Winter Park in terms of ambiance and positioning.  How is that stop working out for the rail lines and Winter Park?

   To your first question, they would have to upgrade the crossings from Cocoa to Jacksonville in order to run the Amtrak faster than 60 miles an hour. Also they would have to go back on all the work they’ve done from Cocoa to Miami and rip out all the new crossings to fit a third track. That’s not gonna happen.

Yes they have the ROW and yes it's possible for intercity rail, Brightline and/or Amtrak to run down the FEC into Jax. The question that remains to be answered is if it is worth it from a financial, liability and ridership perspective.  Time will tell on that one.

Thanks for the info.  To be clear, Pottsburg, are you saying that Amtrak would require upgrades beyond what Brightline would require?

Also, if Brightline is willing to pay for a brand new rail from Cocoa to Tampa (at some point) where they also have to establish new ROW rights and pathways, why wouldn't they be willing to do so within the already existing FEC ROW?  I get that its not inexpensive but, if the traffic demand might be there, why not leave that option on the table?

From Jax to Cocoa would need to be upgraded unless you ran the train at 60mph. If you kept it at 60 between those points you could get away with not upgrading a lot of stuff.
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