By: Ismael Rodriguez
Brightline, the express inter-city train service, promises to link Miami to Orlando in record time, accumulating support, fanfare and a steamroll of confidence from Floridians.
Backed by All Aboard Florida, a private company and subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, the project connects two of the state’s most prominent commerce and tourism locations, boosting tourism dollars and real estate development along the 235-mile spread of land.
AAF hopes to reintroduce passenger rail service to Florida, where the Florida East Coast Railway, founded in 1895 by Henry Flagler and John D. Rockefeller, discontinued this service nearly five decades ago. The service could cost around $3 billion, excluding a $600 million in-land easements already obtained, according to court documents.
“It’s almost like a gift, that we don’t have to pay for it,” Mitch Bierman, a partner in the Miami office of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, told the press. “You have to pay to use it, but there are no capital expenditures.”
Bierman handles administrative law matters for many clients across a wide range of industries, including transportation. He has worked with AAF in the past, negotiating contracts and most recently working on the southern portion of Brightline.
“I am not aware of any other project in the U.S. in which a private entity is building a railroad as a private, for-profit,” Bierman told the press. “This is a unique project.”
The project is expected to begin this summer despite AAF’s ongoing legal battle against Martin and Indian River counties in federal court since 2015.
AAF told the press that Brightline is on schedule, and alternatives are within reach if litigation continues to halt financing for the second phase of the project.