#NEWS The Florida Development Finance Corp. (FDFC) has approved Brightline’s request to act as a conduit for the issuance of $1.75 billion in Private Activity Bonds to finance construction of rail infrastructure in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard and Orange counties for Phase 2 of the higher-speed passenger rail system.
For the Phase 2 route, West Palm Beach to Orlando, All Aboard Florida says it expects to invest as much as $3.5 billion on the total project. That includes, for Phase 2, buying land, planning, engineering, upgrading tracks and crossings between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, and building all new tracks and related infrastructure between Cocoa and the Orlando International Airport, and adding trains. The company said it would finance that with 40 percent equity and 60 percent in debt. Already, All Aboard Florida stated, in a presentation to GOAA, about $200 million has been spent on land purchases, engineering and design, and permitting.
A lot is riding on the Brightline train, particularly for Orlando and the Orlando International Airport, which already has built a $211 million train station, but has no trains. The goal is to connect Florida’s two largest tourist hubs by train.
Opponents, led by Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida, have been fighting the train over concerns for safety for the communities it passes through, the prospect that local communities will pick up longterm tabs for crossings maintenance, and whether the bond sale is even legal. After having struck out in several other lawsuits and administrative challenges, they may be down to trying to derail the federal financing, hoping that the company can’t get pull together the billions of dollars needed for the route.
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