High-speed Brightline rail service could add stop in Tampa

- The high-speed Brightline rail service, which will soon link Miami to Orlando, could be adding a new destination to its itinerary.

The train already boasts stops in Miami and West Palm Beach, and soon Orlando. They are now looking to add Tampa to that list.

On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Transportation announced it received a proposal from Brightline to build a railway that would run along the Interstate 4 corridor and connect Tampa and Orlando.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he thinks this will be beneficial for the Tampa community.

"What it would do is connect two of the economic powerhouses in the I-4 corridor anchored by Orlando and Tampa," said Buckhorn.

A proposed railway between Tampa and Orlando is nothing new. Back in 2011, Governor Rick Scott opposed the idea. He stated that it would cost the taxpayers too much money. However, with a new solution, Buckhorn believes the rail will be profitable for the city.

"It's all privately funded which is great," said Buckhorn. "The acquisition of whatever real estate at whatever destination they decide is all privately funded. The developments are all privately funded."

The new form of transportation would potentially bypass the heavy traffic on I-4. That's something drivers in Tampa said they would welcome.

"It's often backed up and if there's an accident it's even worse. So, if there could be a high-speed rail, that should relieve a lot of that," said Brian Roys, a Tampa resident.

Other residents said they believe the rail would make it easier for tourists and others outside of the city to enjoy all that the Bay Area has to offer.

"Lakeland is a beautiful city. There are other cities in Tampa and there's entertainment in Tampa, but people are not going to come see it if they have to drive," said resident Pamela Brown.

In addition to improving transportation, Buckhorn said the rail will bring new developments along with it.

"Around the station, you'll see commercial development, office development, retail, shopping all starting to spring up," said Buckhorn.

After the railway is built, Mayor Buckhorn stated that he hopes other forms of transportation can be improved to help make it easier for visitors and tourists to access the beaches and airport.

Before construction can begin on the Tampa rail, the line between Orlando and Miami needs to be completed.

A meeting to officially approve Brightline's proposal is set for November 28.

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