Over the past five years, ENR Southeast has recognized a variety of entities as its Owner of the Year. These recent honorees have included a South Florida developer, two state transportation agencies, a Georgia university and a regional utility company. And while several factors go into our Owner of the Year selection process, in each of these cases, the eventual honorees exhibited innovative leadership in terms of project delivery, design or funding.
And this year is no different, as ENR Southeast announces the selection of Brightline—formerly known as All Aboard Florida—as its 2016 Owner of the Year. The company, part of Florida East Coast Industries, is the private entity developing one of the Southeast’s highest-profile—and controversial—projects, the $2.5-billion Orlando-to-Miami passenger rail line now known as Brightline.
The company is using several different contracts to build the Brightline system, two of which will be included on this year’s Top Starts ranking. For instance, Archer Western is progressing on a $153.9-million rail infrastructure contract covering Brightline’s 66.5-mile-long Miami-to-West Palm segment. And in Miami, Suffolk Construction is working on its $200-million contract to build the Miami Central station, a mixed-use development that includes the rail station, retail, offices and apartments. Brightline also hired Moss & Associates to lead design-build construction of two smaller stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
The effort to use private financing to build an intercity passenger rail line is an undeniably bold move, as it would mark the first such system to be developed in the United States in decades. In fact, ENR recently recognized Brightline's president, Michael Reininger, as an ENR Newsmaker this year. There’s no doubt that the project has its critics, as ENR has reported. But it’s also safe to say that, if financially successful, the project holds the potential to influence the development of other similar systems in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. ENR Southeast will provide readers with more information about the Brightline project in its March 21, 2016, print edition.