JUPITER, Fla. — On Monday evening, Brightline/Virgin Trains unveiled it’s complete Phase II plan linking West Palm Beach and Orlando during a much anticipated public information session at the Jupiter Community Center.
The company says Phase II will be operating in mid-2022 and representatives discussed how the construction will impact the community.
Many in Jupiter made it clear where they stand on Virgin Trains' expansion. It’s a project requiring 18 bridges along the corridor to Orlando. And a list of projected temporary crossing closures in places like Jupiter. The project has already started.
"Some of our rails were delivered last week to West Palm Beach and so that rail construction activity will begin in short order,” said Rusty Roberts, vice-president for government affairs for Brightline/Virgin trains
Those who spoke during the public session questioned the cost of the project, the speed of the train as it passes through their area and any potential safety problems. Roberts joined a list of other reps who answered concerns.
”No incidents that we’ve had on our railroad have been as a result of a malfunction of safety equipment,” he said.
Roberts also calmed concerns about cost now and in the future.
”Over $1.6 billion of our own company’s own equity has been put into the project,” he said. “We’ve also utilized federally-authorized tax-exempt bonds to help fund the project -- they’re all investor risk bonds. They are no risk to the taxpayer. So, we are using 100 percent private money to build this system.”
When complete, the project will cost $3 billion to $4 billion. The company says it will create 5,000 permanent jobs -- 1,200 in Palm Beach County alone.
But safety still concerns residents like Ann and Paul Sinnott who traveled from St. Lucie County for the public session.
”They’re going to do whatever they want to do,” said Paul Sinnott. “That’s the bottom line. Whatever they’re able to do. We hope they are able to make it safer.”
As for new stations between West Palm Beach and Orlando the company says it’s too early to tell. To follow Phase II construction updates, click here.