A few years from now, you could be hopping on a Brightline train from Orlando International Airport directly to Disney Springs!
Or, you might even take a train from Miami all the way to Disney. But, before that can happen, some important agreements need to be made. And Florida authorities have just set a deadline that Brightline needs to meet to make it all happen.
Brightline has some stations already set up in Florida and quite a few expansions planned. One of the stations currently under construction is the Orlando Station — which would be located at Orlando International Airport. And one of the expansions planned is a route from the airport to a Disney station and on to Tampa.
But, in order to get that expansion from the airport through to Tampa, several agreements need to be “ironed out” between Brightline and local and state governments, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Sentinel now reports that this past week, Florida transportation authorities gave Brightline “what appears to be a final deadline of mid-summer” to iron out all of these agreements for its extension from the airport to Tampa.
The Sentinel notes that in late 2019, Florida’s Department of Transportation first awarded Brightline “rights to negotiate for securing leases” along that route that would include a station at Disney Springs. In a letter to Brightline, Brad Thoburn, an assistant secretary in the transportation department said “The Department is amenable to one final extension of the negotiations.”
Patrick Goddard, Brightline’s president and chief executive officer, signed the agreement this past week.
The Sentinel notes that the path preferred by Brightline for this expansion route comes with some issues. These issues include the need for cooperation with Central Florida’s SunRail commuter system. There’s also a need for an agreement with the Central Florida Expressway Authority “for use of space along its toll-road system.” Brightline also needs “affirmation from the authority governing Orlando International Airport and approval from Orlando Utilities Commission for use of coal-train rail spur near the airport.”
Brad Thoburn, from the transportation department, has acknowledged that the parties agree the “corridor contemplated for the construction and operation of the intercity rail between Orlando and Tampa is unique and complex.” For that reason, they expect there will be revisions made to the proposed lease to address those complex issues.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Florida Department of Transportation added a long list of terms that need to be met before a “lease for access to state highway space can be finalized.” What’s on that list? Well, one of the things that Brightline must do is conduct a study on “train ridership” and “the amount of toll revenue expected to be lost by the state and Central Florida Expressway Authority” once the train is up and running.
Brightline also has to agree to a method for “compensating the state and the authority for lost toll revenues.” Brightline’s proposed route from the airport to Tampa also would have to cross part of the SunRail tracks, so Brightline has to get an agreement with SunRail’s local leaders.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority also has to reconfirm its support for the train from the airport to Tampa, and Brighline has to submit its design plans when they reach certain percentages of completion.
According to the Orlando Business Journal, the Florida Department of Transportation suspended negotiations on the expansion back in March of 2020 because of the pandemic. But now, negotiations are set to resume with these terms and deadline.
Right now, Brightline has shared that the Disney train station is set to be at Disney Springs. So far, we’ve taken a look at what the train from the airport to Disney World would cost, and how you might get yourself and your luggage from the Disney Springs.
We’ve also reached out to our readers to see if they’d take the train to Disney World, and 10,000 people voted!! You can click here to see what they said! Right now, the train to Disney World is targeting a 2023 opening, but of course all of that is subject to change.
We’ll keep an eye out for more details and developments on these negotiations and we’ll let you know what we find. Stay tuned for more news!
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Would you take a train from the airport to Disney? Let us know in the comments.