LAKELAND, Fla. - It's been in talks for years, but the Bay Area may now be closer than ever to seeing high-speed rail service connecting Tampa to Orlando become a reality. Polk County Commissioners are showing support for a high-speed rail service that would connect both cities.
"Traveling from the Tampa area to those places can take a long time and high-speed rail is the way to go," Tampa resident Kim Brough said.
The train would be able to reach speeds as high as 125 miles per hour.
"The best example of the likelihood of it happening is that this already happened in the south. You know, it's in the Miami area up to Orlando. So that's evidence that is a viable alternative," Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey said.
Currently, construction is underway for a high-speed rail connecting Orlando to West Palm Beach. Brightline, a privately-owned rail service, is managing the project. It would cut down travel time by 40 minutes making the trip about two hours with service available to Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Construction is set to be completed by next year.
A similar project connecting Tampa and Orlando may be next.
"That would be a whole new economic link to that part of the state," Lindsey said.
Tuesday night, all five Polk County commissioners voted to approve a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of Brightline's plans.
"Our plans to expand to Tampa will create jobs and generate economic impact," a Brightline spokesperson wrote in a statement emailed to FOX 13. "Our priority is to build meaningful connections to the state’s most populated regions."
The plan would likely include a station in Polk County.
"All our jurisdictions in Polk County would like to have the station, but that's for the private sector to make that decision," Lindsey said.
The train would offer people an alternative to the congestion and traffic plaguing I-4.
"We used to live in Utah and they have tracks and rail system and it works really well so I think it would be great," shared Tampa resident Kathy Fisher.
Brightline is set to meet with the Polk County Commission sometime in early December to discuss the specifics of the plan. The meeting will be open to the public.
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