By Mary Hladky
Now that the City Council has given its long-awaited approval, construction of Brightline’s Boca Raton station is imminent. Council members unanimously authorized construction of the station and adjacent parking garage on Aug. 24.
“This has been the culmination of a lot of work,” Mayor Scott Singer said.
“It has been a very collaborative process to come to where we are today,” said Deputy City Manager George Brown.
At the time, Brightline officials anticipated that the work would begin in September, but had not set a date as of Sept. 21. They also expected the station would open in the second quarter of 2022.
The $46 million project will be located on city-owned land along the FEC railway tracks immediately east of the Downtown Library. In 2019, the city agreed to lease 1.8 acres of its land there to Brightline for 29 years, but with renewals could total 89 years.
Work has been completed on a surface parking lot near the station that will be available to library patrons while construction is underway.
Brightline agreed to spend up to $300,000 to move the Junior League of Boca Raton’s Community Garden, which has been displaced by the station. The new garden at Meadows Park will open on Oct. 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The 1.4-acre garden will have about 100 lots available for lease. Ten percent of all fruits and vegetables harvested will be donated to Boca Helping Hands.
Brightline plans a 9,035-square-foot station and a 4.5-story garage with 455 parking spaces. Surface parking will provide another 109 spaces.
Library patrons will be able to use the surface parking and 64 reserved garage spaces. 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 halted rail service between Miami and West Palm Beach in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will resume service in early November.