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Brightline is looking into St. Lucie and Martin County as next location for their high-speed rail

The buzz around the possible sites for a new Brightline station in either St. Lucie or Martin County is intensifying, following Brightline's announcement of their search for an appropriate location on the Treasure Coast. Public sentiment and developer perspectives lean towards specific areas, with some stakeholders already considering certain sites as likely choices. For example, developer Sandy Woods expressed at a community meeting that Fort Pierce might be the selected location. Similarly, Hunter Simons, in response to a TCPalm report, suggested that Martin County, with its financial resources, could be a frontrunner, pinpointing the Martin County fairgrounds as a potential site.

Brightline's CEO, Michael Reininger, has stated that no final decision has been reached. The company is open to applications from city and county governments, as well as private landowners, as long as they fulfill specified criteria. Realtor Frank Strazzulla has noted interest from private landowners in this process.

Brightline is looking into St. Lucie and Martin County as next location for their high-speed rail

The RFP issued by Brightline outlines the criteria and requirements for submissions, which includes a Letter of Intent, detailed site criteria, financial terms, and the transaction completion process. The deadline for these proposals is December 22, 2023, with an expectation to finalize a contract with a chosen proposer early in 2024, and the anticipated station opening in early 2028. Brightline reserves the right to shortlist, negotiate, and even reject proposals at their discretion.

One notable location under consideration is a multi-use development in downtown Fort Pierce, previously evaluated by Brightline. Dale Matteson, CEO of Audobon Development, mentioned ongoing discussions with Brightline and city officials, aiming to make Fort Pierce a viable option. Other areas gaining attention include a parking garage near the Sunrise Theatre in downtown Fort Pierce, and a lumberyard south of Colorado Avenue in Stuart, which aligns with track configurations.

The Martin County Fairgrounds, potentially available due to the fair's relocation plans, is another site matching Brightline's requirements. Despite Port St. Lucie's size, its limited access to the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, constrained by the Savannas Preserve State Park, makes it less feasible.

With the launch of Brightline's service between Orlando and West Palm Beach, marking a significant step in U.S. "higher speed" rail, the clock starts ticking for a station in St. Lucie or Martin County, as per an agreement to build within five years of this service launch. Ben Porritt, Brightline's senior vice president, confirms the commitment to this agreement.

The choice of station location is more than logistical; it has economic implications for the chosen area, potentially boosting business activities and addressing housing shortages. While Fort Pierce, with its strategic location and downtown development, is a strong contender, Stuart, known for its lively downtown, also stands out as a potential site. The decision, which will address criticisms like noise and safety concerns, is highly anticipated and will significantly impact Brightline's expansion and the region's transportation infrastructure.


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