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Virgin Trains officially begins construction on West Palm-to-Orlando express route

Commuters ride the train, avoid traffic and stress

Commuters talk about the advantages of commuting to and from Miami by riding the Brightline train.
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Commuters talk about the advantages of commuting to and from Miami by riding the Brightline train.

Virgin Trains USA announced Tuesday construction on its West Palm Beach to Orlando extension had officially begun on what it projects will be a four-year undertaking.

The $4 billion project calls for 170 miles of new track. The company, formerly known as Brightline, projects that by 2022, it will have generated more than 10,000 jobs and more than $650 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.

Digging formally began this week outside Orlando International Airport, where a new connection hub will shuttle passengers from the train’s terminus to airline gates.

The announcement follows years of delays, debate and negotiation over safety, noise and traffic concerns.

Virgin also has named the five contractors who will handle the laying of 490,000 ties and transporting 2.35 million tons of granite and limestone by 20,000 rail cars, and the hammering of two million spikes and bolts over the next 36 months.

They are Sanford-based Wharton-Smith Inc., Winter Park-based Hubbard Construction Company, Massachusetts-based Middlesex Corporation, California-based Granite, and a consortium of rail contractors called HSR Constructors.

“Connecting Central and South Florida will bring thousands of jobs today and by modernizing infrastructure, we will strengthen Florida’s economy for decades,” said Patrick Goddard, president of Virgin Trains USA, in a statement.

A formal groundbreaking ceremony is slated for the coming weeks.

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