High speed rail project has eye on Jacksonville

Published December 23, 2015 in Transportation

High speed rail project has eye on Jacksonville

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For years, Metro Jacksonville has reported that the group behind All Aboard Florida, a "higher speed" intercity rail project under construction between Miami and Orlando, has been considering future expansion into downtown Jacksonville. Now there's no more need to assume that we've been speculating. Now, an Orlando Sentinel Growth Spotter mentions an All Aboard Florida contract states that "it is understood and agreed" that a Jacksonville leg is being considered.

A Rendering of All Aboard Florida's Brightline rail system currently under construction between Miami and Orlando.

Locally, there's been very little media coverage and political understanding of what All Aboard Florida is and how it can possibly play a role in the revitalization of downtown Jacksonville. For example, if expanded to town, it's likely that trains will return to the historic Jacksonville Terminal. All Aboard Florida is also making headways across the state by building Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) around their stations. While this can be good news for the neighborhood formerly known as LaVilla, what does it mean for the future of the Prime Osborn Convention Center? When it comes to mass transit, what could this mean for the Skyway's future and JTA's recent announcement of expansion consideration?  Could we be looking at a day soon, when someone can hop on a train in Orlando or Daytona, ride to Jax and then take the Skyway to a Jags game? Could we be looking at a day in the near future where it's possible to hop on a train, with hourly service, that makes one stop commuting between downtown and St. Augustine feasible?

Many of these questions and more should be seriously evaluated locally in 2016. With that said, here's All Aboard Florida's December 2015 press release concerning potential expansion into Jacksonville.


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

Next Page: Renderings - What is All Aboard Florida


All Aboard Florida is a passenger rail project connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale,  West Palm Beach and Orlando. Developed by Florida East Coast Industries, this rail service will give residents and visitors an alternative to congested highways and airport terminals. It’s also more comfortable on the inside–with high quality food, drink and atmosphere. It’s the only privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail system in the United States.


Rendering of Miami Central Station in downtown Miami

Vacationing, doing business, commuting or otherwise traveling between Orlando and Miami is about to get easier. All Aboard Florida proudly introduces Brightline, an express train service that will provide state-of-the-art fast, safe, relaxing travel in one of the most populous and visited regions in the United States.

Brightline will use the existing Florida East Coast Railway corridor between Miami and Cocoa, and is building new track along State Road 528 between Cocoa and Orlando. Once complete, it will serve residents and visitors in this area with a train that is convenient, safe, fast and environmentally friendly.

This train doesn’t just do wonders for transportation. It does a lot for the Florida community. Over the next eight years, it will have a direct, positive impact on Florida’s economy. During construction, it will create nearly 10,000 jobs. It will also require zero funding from taxpayers. And it’s all moving full-speed ahead.


Rendering of Orlando International Airport station.

Driving from Miami to Orlando takes about four hours. All Aboard Florida's Brightline train will allow passengers to cover that same distance in about three hours — while reading, relaxing or simply enjoying a more productive way to travel.
Quality passenger rail holds the power to transform the travel experience. Rather than putting miles on your own car, paying for gas and navigating heavy traffic, passengers can sit back and enjoy the ride. Brightline will deliver you to Orlando, Miami and destinations in between faster than when driving — and you will arrive more relaxed, refreshed and comfortable.


Rendering of downtown Fort Lauderdale station.

The route will open for service between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2017, with full-service from Miami to Orlando following later that year. In the meantime, All Aboard Florida will be improving the route between Miami and Cocoa, building out the route between Cocoa and Orlando, and constructing modern rail stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Station construction projects at the four destination cities are at various stages. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) designed the three South Florida stations in association with Zyscovich Architects. Construction has begun in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and each station will be completed in advance of the 2017 launch for phase I. Suffolk Construction is serving as general contractor in Miami, and Moss & Associates is the general contractor in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Orlando station will be part of a larger Intermodal Transportation Center at Orlando International Airport, which will be ready in advance of the launch of full service.


Image of downtown West Palm Beach station.

Millions live, work and vacation in the stretch of Florida between Orlando and Miami. Each station served by All Aboard Florida's Brightline train will be strategically located near local transportation options, providing passengers convenient access to each city and destinations located throughout the region.
The Orlando Station will be adjacent to Orlando International Airport, allowing visitors from around the world a new and attractive option as they explore Central and South Florida.


Miami Central Station construction photo courtesy of http://i.imgur.com/S7ITzO7.jpg

All Aboard Florida will transport passengers at between 79 and 125 miles per hour — a speed similar to that of the popular Acela Express that serves the Northeast. Construction includes new track between Orlando and Cocoa, as well as, new signal systems, upgraded crossings, double tracking and other improvements for the existing stretch between Cocoa and Miami.

Passengers will ride on Siemens train-sets that feature ADA compliance standards, Wi-Fi, level boarding and ergonomic seating. The entire development of this passenger train system is focused on travelers and maximizing their convenience. Connect with All Aboard Florida to stay updated on progress and news.

Source: All Aboard Florida - http://www.allaboardflorida.com/

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