(FloridaToday.com) - The company seeking to start high-speed passenger rail service between Orlando and Miami claims its project of adding and upgrading rail lines would generate a significant short-term boost in terms of jobs and economic impact in Brevard County.
Long-term, though, the impact would be minimal because All Aboard Florida's trains would pass through Brevard, but not stop here.
During the next two years, as new track is built between Orlando and Cocoa, the study consultants estimated it would generate 704 direct and 740 spinoff jobs within Brevard.
All Aboard Florida on Wednesday released an economic impact study that found that those jobs would have a payroll of $80.9 million a year.
Rod Lewis, a consulting economist for The Washington Economics Group Inc., which did the study, said most of those 1,444 jobs are likely to be filled by Brevard County residents.
Additionally, the study estimated the total economic impact of the construction phase of the project in Brevard would be $225.8 million a year from mid-2014 to mid-2016.
Lewis said Brevard won't feel too much of a long-term impact, though, because the trains just pass through. But there would be some, related to Brevard residents working at All Aboard Florida's Orlando operations and for the maintenance of rail lines within Brevard.
The proposed 235-mile-long rail corridor encompasses eight counties. The only interim stops would be in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Service is scheduled to begin in 2016, with an Orlando-to-Miami trip.
Not everyone is in favor of the project. Some local residents have expressed concern about the impact of 32 trains a day passing through Brevard County — 16 in each direction — with the trains traveling at speeds of up to 125 mph. Among the concerns: safety, traffic disruption at rail crossings, noise, reduced property values, impact on government finances and potential for increased freight runs along the route.
The Brevard County Commission is considering a resolution urging federal and state agencies to require All Aboard Florida to pay for maintenance, as well as the cost of improvements needed to establish "quiet zones" at crossings that would eliminate the need for a train whistle to blow at each crossing.
The study found that the project by All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, would generate these impacts in Florida:
• $6.37 billion in cumulative economic impact to Florida's economy through 2021. This includes rail-line construction and operations, mostly in the eight counties along the route, as well as "transit-oriented development" construction and operations of hospitality, residential, office and retail projects surrounding the planned stations in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
• 10,453 jobs during its two-year rail construction period from mid-2014 to mid-2016; and 1,603 permanent rail-line operations jobs and 389 permanent transit-oriented development jobs after that.