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High-speed rail project connecting Tampa to Orlando gets $15.8M grant from feds

The project could provide people an alternative travel option to driving along I-4.

TAMPA, Fla. — A high-speed travel option between Tampa and Orlando could soon be coming thanks to a more than $15.8 million federal grant, passenger rail company Brightline said.

Brightline said several Central Florida U.S. Representatives announced the $15,875,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program. 

The funding is set to go toward Central Florida's Sunshine Corridor and Brightline's proposed Tampa to Orlando intercity passenger rail project. 

Brightline says it will contribute up to $15,875,000 of its own money, resulting in a total investment in the project of $31,750,000.

"The grant award will support the preliminary engineering activities and environmental approvals required to construct an intercity passenger rail system between Orlando International Airport and Tampa," the release said.

Currently, if you want to travel between Tampa and Orlando, you'll need to drive along Interstate 4, which has been dubbed as one of the deadliest roads in the country. 

If the passenger rail is built, it would give people an alternative means of traveling between the two highly-populated cities and allow them to leave the car behind. 

Brightline says it operates between Miami and West Palm Beach right now and is working on constructing an extension form West Palm Beach to Orlando. That extension is expected to be complete by the end of 2022, and by 2023 carry passengers. 

If the Tampa to Orlando proposal is accepted, Brightline says it would be the "next step in connecting 70 percent of the state's population by Brightline." 

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