Nearly $16 million for high-speed rail plans that would link Tampa to Orlando

The federal government provides nearly $16 million in grants to by Brightline proposed plans for a high-speed train that would connect Tampa to Orlando.

Traveling from Tampa to Orlando for work, the airport, theme parks or shopping means drivers take I-4, a route many people avoid due to daily congestion.

“It’s a parking lot. Very slow. Sometimes it takes me up to five to six hours to get there,” Albert Yoder explained.

Brightline wants to add an intercity passenger rail line that would run along the spine of I-4, connecting Tampa to Orlando International Airport with trains that can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour.

“I think it will reduce some road traffic,” Yoder said.

A federal grant announced this week will award up to $15,875,000 from the US Department of Transportation to help fund Project Brightline. The company will match the funds, totaling $31,750,000 to be used for preliminary engineering costs of the train route.

Local lawmakers said the investment is on track to boost the region’s economy, attract visitors from across the country, and keep us moving forward as Tampa and Orlando continue to grow.

Brightline currently operates high-speed rail lines between Miami and West Palm Beach. Construction of the West Palm Beach extension in Orlando is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The final leg connecting Orlando to Tampa would connect 70% of the Sunshine State’s population.

So far, no word on when this preliminary engineering work will be completed, what the next steps are, or in what year we could finally hit the rails for Orlando.

FOX 13 News contacted Brightline for more details, but did not hear back.

Jose P. Rogers