Full Steam Ahead: Virgin Trains Starts Construction On Orlando To South Florida Route

It’s full steam ahead for Phase 2 of Virgin Trains USA’s expansion plans.

Virgin Trains, formerly Brightline, has begun construction on a high-speed rail line connecting Orlando and South Florida.

On Tuesday, the inter-city rail system company announced the five contractors who are working on the $4 billion route that’s expected to be in service by 2022.

The contractors are as follows:

  • Hubbard Construction Co.

  • Wharton-Smith, Inc.

  • Middlesex Corp.

  • Granite Construction Inc.

  • 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,” Virgin Trains USA President Patrick Goddard said in a statement. “For a project of this scope and magnitude, a world-class construction team has been assembled to undertake this tremendous assignment and we congratulate them helping us make history.”

According to Virgin Trains, Phase 2 construction encompasses four zones, which includes the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport, the Virgin Trains Maintenance Facility and approximately 170 miles of track.

Zone One: A 70-acres stretch about one-mile south of Orlando International Airport. Hubbard Construction Co. has begun clearing the land so that Wharton-Smith, Inc. can start construction in 2020.

“Infrastructure is the backbone of all communities and this project will bring advancements long awaited here in Central Florida,” said Wharton-Smith, Inc. President Ron Davoli. “We like to be involved in projects that improve our communities – in fact improving the quality of life where we live, work and play is what we call the Wharton-Smith way.  We cannot wait to get started.”

Zone Two: A 3.5 mile section at Orlando International Airport that is currently being cleared by Middlesex Corp.

“We are proud to bring our infrastructure expertise to this project to expand transit options for Floridians and help further fuel the economic growth of the region,” said Middlesex Corp. CEO Robert W. Pereira.

Zone Three: About 35 miles of rail alignment between Orlando International Airport and Cocoa. Granite Construction Inc. is handling all the efforts, which includes building 18 bridges, three underpasses and 60 track miles.

“As one of the nation’s leading rail and transit contractors, Granite is proud to be a partner on this iconic project, which once completed, will provide Florida residents and visitors with a world-class transit system,” said Granite Construction Inc. President James H. Roberts.

Zone Four: HSR Constructors will be upgrading 129 miles of existing track. In addition to shifting 56 miles of existing track and rehabilitating another 28 miles of sidings, HSR will also construct 100 miles of new track and install 40 new turnouts and crossovers while relocating another 40.

“Zone Four is a significant undertaking that will be delivered using HSR Constructors’ collective local and national transit experience. This is an exciting project that will redefine what it means to travel within Florida for locals and visitors,” said Scott Norman, an executive at HSR Constructors executive.

Virgin Trains estimates Phase 2 will create more than 10,000 jobs with an associated labor income of $2.4 billion. The company also believes about $6.4 billion will be pumped directly into the Florida economy while generating $653 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.

After the Orlando route is completed, Virgin Trains is looking at Tampa and theme park connections. A Tampa terminal would cost an estimated $1.7 billion. There are no hard numbers on a theme park connection, but Goddard stated Virgin Trains USA definitely wants “to build out to Disney.”

“It is entirely conceivable that that can happen with the delivery of the Orlando station,” Goddard said.