Orlando-Area Community Groups Oppose Brightline Train Extension to Walt Disney World
For some time, Brightline has planned its ambitious expansion that will extend their rail line from Tampa to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, the project has managed to draw its share of detractors.
According to the Orlando Business Journal‘s Ryan Lynch, a trio of community organizations from Orlando’s Hunter’s Creek community, Hunter’s Creek Community Association Inc., Hunter’s Creek Town Center Property Owners Association Inc. and Tract 181 Property Owners Association Inc. have sent a letter to Central Florida Expressway Authority to voice their disapproval. The letter was read aloud at the Authority’s board meeting on Thursday.
The groups cite their main concerns as safety, noise, dirt and potential declining property values, with the letter adding, “the proposed route would place all of the burdens of a high-speed train on the Hunter’s Creek community with none of the benefits.” The groups also noted a decision on a legal case on eminent domain of the Authority. They claim that the decision allows them to claim damages should the line go through Hunter’s Creek north of Town Center Boulevard.
Currently, Brightline has discussed two routes to Disney Springs: one along State Road 417, which goes through Hunter’s Creek, and another near Taft/Vineland Road, which would place it closer to International Drive. The railway company has until July 31st to secure a right-of-way to Tampa from a number of entities, including the Florida Department of Transportation and Central Florida Expressway Authority. While Brightline prefers the State Road 417 option due to costs, as it’s expected to cost $1.03 billion versus $2.1 billion for the Taft/Vineland route, they are open to exploring other routes after the deadline. Other prominent groups advocating for the Taft/Vineland route include the I-Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce and Universal Orlando Resort, who have been looking to get a station of their own to help their upcoming theme park, Epic Universe. However, Brightline’s Vice President of Infrastructure Michael Cegelis cited that over 70 businesses would be affected by that route, and that more opposition could grow in that direction.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings added, “in order to get people to support the proposed route, it will require an abundance of community outreach and engagement.” Cegelis added that an agreement could be reached where Brightline would be responsible for paying out claims.