Brightline Reaches Pact on Orlando Expansion

Brightline has reached agreements involving grade crossing safety, bridge operations and station funding in the Treasure Coast area of Florida north of West Palm Beach.

The agreements remove some obstacles to launching service to Orlando International Airport.

Martin County will allow Virgin Trains USA to assume some of those responsibilities

Martin along with Indian River County and a citizens group had filed suit seeking to stop the Brightline expansion.

Martin County and the citizen group have agreed to end the legal action, but Indian River County has not.

Brightline/Virgin will be able to upgrade the Florida East Coast Railway line it will use to double track supporting 110-mph operation.

Among the improvements that Brightline/Virgin will make are:

— Install vehicle presence detection and/or exit gates at 21 highway crossings;

— Install and pay for sidewalks at eight crossings where they don’t now exist;

— Share equally in the cost of a pedestrian bridge in downtown Stuart, Fla.;

— Pay $1 million toward fencing in the county;

— Pay for annual highway crossing maintenance costs above what the county pays now, estimated at least $10 million, for 14 years after passenger service begins;

— Build at least one station in the county and pay half the cost;

— Elevate a portion of the St. Lucie River bridge to allow passage of more marine traffic when the drawbridge is down, promise consistent bridge openings of 15 minutes every hour, and pay for a full-time bridge monitor;

— Allow Loxahatchee River Bridge openings at a consistent time each hour, with closures no longer than 30 minutes.

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