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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) this week published its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for All Aboard Florida's (AAF) plan to build a 235-mile passenger-rail line from Miami to Orlando, Fla.The document evaluates Phase II of the project, which includes adding a second track within 128.5 miles of the existing Florida East Coast Railway right of way between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, as well as building a new 40-mile line parallel to State Road 828 between Cocoa and Orlando International Airport. In addition, Phase II involves building a new vehicle maintenance facility south of the airport, and improving grade crossings, bridges, signalization and adding new communication and train control systems, according to the FEIS document's abstract.
In 2012, the FRA approved an environmental document that indicated AAF can proceed with the construction of Phase I, which involves building infrastructure for a line from West Palm Beach to Miami. The latest document, dated Aug. 4, 2015, addresses the environmental impacts of construction of both Phase I and Phase II.Also this week, a Florida state financing agency gave AAF the green light to sell $1.75 billion in tax-exempt municipal bonds to help finance the private company's $2.5 billion project.The Florida Development Finance Corp. (FDFC) voted in favor of AAF's application following an all-day hearing, Florida news media reported yesterday. AAF still faces a federal lawsuit filed by Martin and Indian River counties, which are seeking to stop the bond issue. (Editor's note: This story was updated after its initial posting.)