Brightline Stop Chugging Toward Boca Raton

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

Boca residents may be able to hop on a Brightline train by the end of 2020.

The train company sure hopes the city is on board with receiving a new station. It pitched a plan to the city council and residents during a workshop meeting last month.

The project includes adding a train station where the city’s downtown library parking lot is located. The station would displace the community garden, but train officials would work with the city to relocate it.

The ask from the city is for the city to donate the land and pay for the parking garage and a pedestrian bridge over Dixie Highway. In exchange, Brightline, which is in the process of being rebranded as Virgin Trains, would pay for and build the station, which would provide public parking for library patrons. The plan also includes adding retail and apartments as part of the project.

“We are very excited to be here today,” VP of development for Brightline Brian Kronberg said. “We see this as the first step in a formal process with the City of Boca Raton. We would like to get started after today’s meeting to make this project a reality.”

Many residents were excited about the opportunity to have their own station. Some folks who lived nearby expressed concerns and asked if the proposed location is the best option.

“I am very excited about the possibility of having Brightline here,” resident Peg Anderson said. “It’s a wonderful alternative to driving your car. It’s been the missing link for a very, very long time. It would add to the vibrancy of downtown. This would be like Christmas in July if we could do something with this.”

Local attorney Tom Berger said he takes the train to Miami and would much rather leave from Boca than schlep to Fort Lauderdale.

“We already have the train coming through,” he said. “I would rather it stop.”

He said he prefers Brightline to Tri-Rail because it like taking an airplane rather than a bus.

“It is comfort, you get a snack, you get a coffee,” he said.

Ultimately, council members agreed to move forward with negotiations with the company. They also advised Brightline officials to meet with the neighborhoods near the proposed site and library officials.

“Bring on the train,” Councilman Jeremy Rodgers said. “Boca has a lot of assets. We don’t have a train stop here. I think it is a huge win. I think we should move forward.”

It is unclear when the council will discuss the project again. It will have to go through the city’s approval process before a station is built.