By Mary Hladky
Brightline likely will get a green light from the city in August to begin construction of its Boca Raton station and garage.
The city’s Planning & Zoning Board, by a 5-1 vote on July 15, recommended that the City Council approve the $46 million project. The council is expected to take action at its Aug. 24 meeting. Board member Larry Snowden, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he understands the importance of the station to the city.
“It is a huge, positive impact on our city,” he said. “I recognize it is a game changer.”
But Snowden said he was dissatisfied with Brightline’s presentation to the board that he felt did not address many questions and safety issues.
“What I have seen tonight is not ready for prime time,” he said, without outlining specifics.
Brightline plans a 9,035-square-foot, one-story train station and a 4.5-story, 171,050-square-foot garage with 455 parking spaces. Surface parking will provide another 109 spaces.
The project will be located on city-owned land along the FEC railway tracks immediately east of the Downtown Library.
In December 2019, the city agreed to lease 1.8 acres of its land there to Brightline for 29 years, but with renewals that could total 89 years.
Library patrons will be able to use the surface parking and 64 garage spaces will be reserved for them. The remainder will be available to Brightline passengers and the public.
A $16.3 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant will help pay for the station and garage. Brightline will pay $20 million of the station cost and the city will spend $9.9 million on the garage.
Brightline broke ground on May 10 for a temporary parking lot just south of the library that its patrons will use while the station and garage are being built. It also started work at that time to move the Junior League of Boca Raton’s Community Garden, which is being displaced by the station, to Meadows Park.
Brightline halted rail service between Miami and West Palm Beach in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It now expects to resume service in the fourth quarter of this year.