If All Aboard Florida gets its way, Miamians will be able to hop on a train downtown as soon as next year and disembark in Orlando three hours later. The company, which owns a freight line that runs along Florida's east coast, is banking on a $1.5 billion federal loan to build a new set of tracks for the nation's largest privately run passenger train service.
Of course this is Florida, so the project still has tons of unanswered questions and a whiff of corruption tied to Gov. Rick Scott's staff. But if the train line comes to fruition, the company says Miami's new Grand Central Station would look something like the rendering above.
The new renderings are included in All Aboard Florida's redesigned website, which pitches the benefits of its new passenger line.
The firm, which is owned by Florida East Coast Railway, says the project -- which would also stop in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach -- would pump $500 million into Florida's economy, reduce car emissions, and create thousands of jobs.
In Miami, the company wants to build a massive new terminal near Government Center. The project could eventually include 1.5 million feet of retail and office space and would abut another megaproject in the works, the Miami Worldcenter.
But there are plenty of questions left for the firm to answer before it can begin the train service, which wouldn't quite be "high speed" but would jet up to 125 mph after leaving urban South Florida.
As Broward Bulldog reported earlier this month, the train line will have to go through more than 350 street crossings between Miami and West Palm, and the firm must spend millions making them safe. Some critics have pushed back against the project for proposals to close several intersections.
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And it wouldn't be a massive Florida project without a hint of impropriety. The AP reported that $200 million Gov. Rick Scott has pledged to build Orlando's new train station would go directly to two groups that once employed his chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth. In fact, the wire service even obtained text messages that showed Hollingsworth pumping the plan to Scott's office while he still worked for the developers.
It's also worth remembering that Scott turned down billions in federal stimulus money to build a full-fledged high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando (with a later link planned for Miami), supposedly because local taxpayers would be on the hook for cost overruns -- a claim that has been thoroughly and utterly debunked.
Miami's new downtown terminal is still working through the zoning approval process -- with the train company asking the county for another 2.7 acres for the project earlier this month.