Florida Reps. Darren Soto, Dan Webster, Stephanie Murphy, Gus Bilirakis and Val Demings announced the Central Florida region has received a grant award of up to $15,875,000 in federal funding from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program. The funding will go toward Central Florida’s Sunshine Corridor and Brightline’s proposed Tampa to Orlando intercity passenger rail project. The grant award, combined with up to $15,875,000 in contributing funds from Brightline, will result in a $31,750,000 total investment. The grant application received substantial community and bipartisan support.
The grant award will support the preliminary engineering activities and environmental approvals required to construct an intercity passenger rail system between Orlando International Airport and Tampa. The activities will include completing 15 percent and 30 percent engineering design for a completely grade-separated, mostly double-tracked railway built within the right-of-way of the I-4 median and other existing transportation corridors.
Brightline, the nation’s only provider of modern, eco-friendly intercity passenger rail service, is currently operating between Miami and West Palm Beach and constructing an extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando, which is expected to be complete at the end of 2022 and carry passengers in 2023. An extension to Tampa is the next step in connecting 70 percent of the state’s population by Brightline.
Central Florida is projected to experience significant growth in population, employment and tourism over the next decade, which will increase the demands and congestion on current roadways. Currently, travel between Tampa and Orlando is mainly by I-4, which recent studies identified as the deadliest road in America. Intercity passenger rail is a vital tool to help the state manage future growth under constrained conditions that limit the ability to expand highways.
-via Press Release