Brightline high-speed rail from WPB to Miami 70 percent complete

Posted at 8:47 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 21:12:34-05

Very soon you will be able to get to Miami in half the time it takes to drive.

The Brightline high-speed rail project is on track to open next summer.
WPTV's Alanna Quillen got a sneak peak behind-the-scenes of the downtown West Palm Beach train station construction site, which is about 70 percent complete.

"It's just the interior finishing and the installation of the track through the station that is left to be completed," said Ali Soule, spokeswoman for Brightline.

Crews are working on three train stations along the route, each in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach.

"We are also nearing completion on our running repair facility, which is where our trains will be located and maintained which is just north of downtown West Palm Beach," said Soule.

About 150 construction workers are working overtime to meet the summer 2017 deadline.

"Those people are not only working on the train station but also the 290 unit apartment building right across the street from the station," said Soule.

Large, triangular glass windows have already been installed onto the second floor of the train station, where you can watch for your train to come in.

We saw crews haul in major pieces on Wednesday, including the escalators. That will lead upstairs to the concourse level, where customers will wait for the trains.

"Right here to our right, we have the food and beverage kiosk where passengers can grab a bite before getting on the train," Soule said while giving the tour.

Crews have carved out a path for the rail, which will run underneath pavilions on both sides of the building.

"If you were actually drive along the corridor, in certain places you would see the rail that has been dropped off and delivered that's waiting to be installed," said Soule. "By the end of this year, we will have completed all of the grade crossing upgrades for Palm Beach County."

The trains are anticipated to reach a maximum speed of nearly 80 miles per hour along the corridor.

"Passengers will be able to sit down, open a computer, connect to WiFi read a book talk to a friend catch up on sleep and not really have to worry about the congested environment we have in South Florida," said Soule.

While phase one is close to completion, there are lots of questions about phase two, which would connect West Palm Beach to Orlando.

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation withdrew approval of $1.75 billion in rail bonds so now there's no set plan to fund the phase that will extend Brightline through the Treasure Coast.

"We're still working on the necessary steps for phase two, but right now our focus is our Miami to Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach segment," said Soule.

Crews will finish track installation for the West Palm-Miami route next month. The first set of locomotives and passenger cars -- which are being assembled right now at the Siemens plant in California -- should get here by the end of the year.

"Once the station is actually complete, we'll start training the more than 100 Brightline employees that will be working in west palm beach," said Soule.