For quite some time we’ve been sharing updates about the Brightline train that is set to connect Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World.
Over the past few months, we’ve taken a look at one BIG milestone the train hit, a peek at its progress from the sky, and even news about Universal plan to push for an airport train connection. Recently, we got a big update as to where the plans for this train from the airport to Disney World stand.
Previously, we shared that Brightline was considering various routes from the airport to the Disney World station. At the time, 2 main routes appeared to be under consideration. One route would piggyback on State Road 417 through Hunters Creek. The other would go along State Road 528 to International Drive.
The 417 route, which is the one Brightline prefers, has been estimated to cost $1.03 billion. The SR 528 route, on the other hand, was previously estimated to cost $2.1 billion. This SR 528 route would go along I-Drive, a massive area with tourist attractions.
In April we shared that Universal Orlando Resort, the I-Drive business chamber of commerce, and more may push for this route that goes to I-Drive. Now, we’ve got an update as to what’s going on with the potential routes Brightline has been considering.
The Central Florida Expressway Authority held a meeting on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 about the Brightline train line. The Orlando Sentinel reports that during the meeting, the Central Florida Expressway Authority also agreed unanimously to indefinitely delay a decision as to whether to allow Brightline to build the train on the Road 417 route.
The vote reportedly came after hours of discussion. It appears that the discussion was dominated by a push from representatives of the I-Drive tourism strip and Hunter’s Creek residential community aimed at denying access of the State Road 417 route to Brightline.
If Brightline is unable to use their preferred 417 route, then they may have to consider using the State Road 528 route. One consultant hired by Universal Orlando and the International Drive merchants noted that the alternative route could cost only $294 million more than the 417 route. But, a consultant hired by the expressway authority said the route preferred by the International Drive supporters could cost $1.7 billion (i.e. about $700 million more than the 417 route) and potentially up to $2.2 billion.
John Sprouls, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Universal Parks & Resorts, shared that they would donate 17 acres for the rail corridor at the convention center if Brightline uses the 528 route, and that they would “put [their] money and [their] resources where [their] mouth is.”
Hunter Creek Residents have been divided as to whether to allow Brightline to access 417, but the majority who spoke on Tuesday appeared to be against that option. There are various factors being brought up during these discussions including environmental concerns, noise concerns, tourism matters, and more.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Brightline shared a Press Release about the vote that took place. In the press release Brightline notes that on July 20th, the Central Florida Expressway Authority “unanimously approved a resolution of support for Brightline’s planned expansion between Orlando International Airport and Tampa.” Brightline’s press release also shares that the Central Florida Expressway Authority Board, which is the governing body for SR 417 — Brightline’s preferred route — also “cleared the way for Brightline to study a high-speed rail alignment along this corridor.”
Christine Kefauver, Brightline’s senior vice president for corporate development, issued a statement from Brightline which states, “We’ve always found success by building a large and wide-ranging coalition of support, which was on display today…Today’s resolution of support brings us one step closer to connecting Orlando and Tampa with Brightline’s modern, eco-friendly intercity rail service.”
Note that Brightline currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. The company is scheduled to complete construction of their train line to Orlando International Airport by the end of 2022. Previously, the Orlando Sentinel reported that service from the airport to Disney Springs is not slated to begin until about 2026.
We’ll keep an eye out for more updates as to this situation.
Click here to see what we know about where the airport train’s Disney Springs station could be located.
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
Would you consider taking the train from the airport to Disney World? Tell us in the comments.