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Brightline Expansion to Orlando is 55 Percent Complete

Brightline gets closer to creating a rail line from Tampa to Orlando. (Photo: Catie Switalski, WLRN)
Brightline gets closer to creating a rail line from Tampa to Orlando. (Photo: Catie Switalski, WLRN)

The line will connect Central and South Florida starting in 2022.

The rail expansion between West Palm Beach and Orlando that will create some 2,000 jobs and have a $6.4 billion dollar direct economic impact is now 55 percent complete.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says it’s time to take a victory lap as bringing high-speed rail to the area has been a long time coming.

“So, let’s just kind of soak it in today. We're halfway done with Brightline, halfway getting it here, and it’s all been done amazingly during the course of having COVID among us. So a lot of things didn't stop during COVID. Some of the retail and restaurants but construction has stayed especially strong during the course of COVID."

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says the pandemic year has been challenging as the economy dipped significantly. But he says the high-speed rail is an indicator of good things to come.

“It signifies something for Orlando and the metropolitan area. That we are that place on planet Earth that I believe where we can realize that dream that Walt Disney said many years ago that he was trying to build the experimental prototype community of tomorrow. And it starts with having a robust transportation system and an investment in innovation.”

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Another 160 jobs will be generated at the new Orlando International Airport Vehicle Maintenance Facility where trains will be serviced around the clock.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.