With Brightline’s train set to arrive next month, the bulk of the construction on the buildings and tracks that will mark its route when service commences next year is complete.
Nearly two months after crews finished vertical construction at All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train station in downtown West Palm Beach, work has moved to the inside of the building where the ticketing lobby and passenger waiting areas are starting to take shape.
Construction at the station is 70 percent complete, and Brightline’s passenger trains are expected to start shuttling passengers between West Palm Beach and Miami in mid-2017, said Ali Soule, Brightline’s Public Affairs Manager.
Just west of the station site, vertical construction has begun on the rail venture’s 24-story residential tower. The building, which is located just north of CityPlace, will have shops and restaurants on its ground level. Rental apartments will fill the upper floors.
As many as 150 construction workers are at the two projects each day. Crews are working six days a week to finish the station and its 860-foot rail platform, said Ryan Tempone, a project manager with Moss Construction, the company hired by All Aboard to build the station and residential tower.
As work advances, the station’s footprint has started to become visible.
Construction is well underway on the rail platform, which along with the train tracks, will cut through the center of the station building. The covered drop-off area outside the station’s lobby, where passengers will enter the building, is also taking shape.
Inside the station, electrical and plumbing lines, air conditioning ducts and drywall are all being installed. Windows have been installed on the east side of the building.
Escalators will soon be installed in the lobby, where passengers will purchase tickets and get train schedules.
Once upstairs, passengers will go through a security area before crossing an elevated walkway perched above the train tracks. The walkway separates the checkpoint from the station’s main concourse.
The air conditioned concourse will include a food and beverage section, waiting area and a separate lounge for Brightline’s business passengers.
When a train approaches the station, passengers will take an escalator or elevator down to the covered platform to board the train.
Brightline will sell two coach options — Select Coach and Smart Coach. In the first phase, each train will include three Smart coaches and one Select coach, company officials said
Construction crews in November 2014 began demolition work at the station site located just north of CityPlace between Datura and Evernia streets west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.The first of 18 large V-shaped, concrete pillars, which serve as the station’s architectural signature, was hoisted into place in March.
Vertical construction at the site was completed in September.
Construction on the first phase of Brightline’s service, which includes three stations and track work between Miami and West Palm Beach, is 70 percent percent complete, Soule said.
At the company’s station in Ft. Lauderdale, crews are installing dry wall and partitioning off lounge areas. The rail platform’s structural slab is being completed, and utility work is underway, Soule said.
In Miami, concrete work has been completed at Brightline’s station and 90 percent of the steel work is finished, Soule said.
As part of the project, Brightline is also adding a second track to the Florida East Coast railway line. Brightline plans to eventually run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
The second phase of the track work, which runs between West Palm Beach and Orlando, has not yet begun.
Two Treasure Coast counties and a citizens group have been fighting to block the project’s extension north.
Last month, court documents revealed that All Aboard had renewed its push to sell millions in tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the rail venture.
The Coral Gables-based company first sought permission to sell $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds in 2014, but the tight municipal bond market forced officials to shelve the sale last year.
In court documents made public Nov. 1, All Aboard officials said they want to scrap the original sale, and instead move forward with a smaller bond issue that would be easier to market to potential buyers.
Brightline’s first train is expected to arrive in south Florida by the end of the year.
The company’s trains will be housed at Brightline’s rail repair facility under construction just north of downtown West Palm Beach. The facility will be used to repair, maintain, clean and store Brightline’s trains, All Aboard officials have said.
The 12-acre site at 601 15th Street is also expected to serve as an office for the company’s conductors, engineers, and on-board service staff.