A New Orlando-Tampa Extension for Brightline?

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Brightline photo

Brightline photo

According to a Fox 35 Orlando news report, a bill filed Jan. 3 by State Senate Transportation Chair Nick DiCeglie (R-Indian Rocks Beach) would require the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to preserve a 44-foot-wide rail corridor in the right-of-way of Interstate 4 in order to extend Brightline passenger rail service between Orlando and Tampa, Fla.

According to the report, the proposal (SB 1226), would also require FDOT to “consider infrastructure issues,” such as the spacing of bridge columns and barriers that would separate the potential rail right-of-way and the interstate.

In September, Brightline completed a 170-mile, $6 billion project that connected its rail service to Orlando from South Florida, where stations have operated since 2018. Brightline has signaled that it wants to extend the service to the Tampa area, according to the report.

Florida Sen. Jay Collins and Rep. Karen Gonzalez Pittman, both Tampa Republicans, have submitted $50 million budget requests for rail improvements in the I-4 corridor, according to the Fox 35 Orlando report. DiCeglie’s bill and the budget proposals will be considered during the legislative session that will begin on Jan. 9.

In related news, on Thursday, Jan. 4, Brightline welcomed Rep. Gonzalez Pittman, Hillsborough County Commissioner Michael Owen, Ybor City Chamber Chair Darren Richards and PNC’s Stephany Musino to experience the new connection from Orlando to South Florida and “explore future options for a Tampa extension.”

The day-long event began at Brightline’s Orlando Station at Orlando International Airport, where the group was welcomed onboard, riding Brightline to the West Palm Beach station, which the company says “will be similar in scope to a future Tampa station.”

The group was greeted in West Palm Beach by Kelly Smallridge, President and CEO of the Business Development Board of the Palm Beaches and Dennis Grady, retired President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, where they discussed the economic benefit of Brightline, the development impact of the Brightline West Palm Beach station and what a connection to Tampa could mean for both communities. The group returned on the train to Orlando to conclude the trip.

A video of the tour is available here.

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