Florida East Coast Industries (FECI)
HNTB and Brightline* have delivered the first new, privately built passenger railroad train in more than a century. HNTB served as program manager and construction manager to help realize the vision for the $4 billion project. The firm’s role continues to be all-encompassing, with project control systems work, and the program management/construction management team handles engineering design, construction engineering, quality control, environmental clearances, invoicing and inspections.
HNTB designed supplemental safety measures that are required for the installation of a quiet zone between Miami and West Palm Beach. The federally approved approach includes multi-quadrant gates designed to deter drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians from going under or around the crossing gates when they are closed.
Work has begun on phase 2, a 195-mile extension from West Palm Beach to the Orlando International Airport.
Phases 1 and 2 originally were anticipated to be design-build projects, and design of the second phase had been divided between three firms. When it became evident there would be a time gap between phases, however, Brightline had an opportunity to complete the phase 2 design before beginning construction.
Fourteen other rail bridges initially were designed to use prestressed concrete Florida I-beams with cast-in-place decks. Using an accelerated bridge construction approach, the top flanges of the I-beams were thickened to function as a deck with small 8-inch closures between the beams. The closures were formed with ultra-high-performance concrete. Similar applications have been used on highway bridges but, at the time of design, this application had not been used on a rail bridge. The innovation resulted in significant savings in labor and construction time.
In January 2018, Brightline began introductory service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida. Service to Miami launched the following May. The trains now run 194 weekly round trips with growing ridership.
Brightline has provided residents, business travelers and tourists with an affordable, convenient mobility solution that reduces travel time and is safer and more environmentally friendly than driving.
*Brightline, owned by FECI, the legacy company of industrialist Henry Flagler, recently announced a strategic partnership and licensing agreement with the Virgin Group. Under the agreement, Brightline will transition to Virgin Trains USA this year.