- By Tony Doris Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Newcomers to Brightline’s West Palm train station may be frustrated and confused if they try to park or walk in from Clematis Street.
The frontage road is a muddy playground for earth-moving machinery and won’t be a completed road with sidewalks until the end of February. When it’s done, it will make access easier from the city’s main commercial street.
High-speed rail service to Fort Lauderdale began Saturday morning, with the railroad offering free parking for now in its high-rise apartment tower which is under construction next to the station.
Those who parked in the city garage on Clematis, however, learned there was no direct way to the station. Getting there required a three-block walk, west to Rosemary Avenue, then back east on Datura Street, with no signs along the way to direct cars or pedestrians.
On Tuesday, city commissioners, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, approved transferring $300,000 from reserves to help complete the project.
The rail services, which is doing the work, has estimated that the project on the west side of the new station will cost $920,000. The rail company is contributing $750,000 of that, and the city and redevelopment agency agreed to fund enhanced drainage and additional landscaping they wanted.
The transfer passed unanimously, the only voice of doubt coming from mayor Jeri Muoio, who does not vote. Muoio has been annoyed that Brightline didn’t complete its Quiet Zone work, required so that the new trains don’t have to blast horns though every intersection. In protest, she didn’t attend the ceremony inaugurating the rail service on Friday.
At Tuesday’s redevelopment agency meeting, she wondered aloud when the frontage road work would be done. “Probably the same time Quiet Zones will be done,” she said.
Brightline officials say the horns could be quieted as soon as March.
The high-speed train debuted this past weekend and is running 10 round-trip trains a day between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. There will be nine round-trip trains on the weekends.
Trains depart as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. The schedules will differ between weekdays and weekends, Brightline said.
A one-way ride between the two cities takes about 35 minutes, with trains traveling at speeds of up to 79 mph.
Brightline said it plans to extend service to its station in Miami in the coming months. The station is still being built. Eventually, Brightline plans to offer trips between South Florida and Orlando. Construction on the Orlando leg is set to begin this year, Brightline said.