BOCA RATON – Nov 25 2019. At the Boca City Council Workshop, Virgin Trains USA representatives showed updated drawings (see below) and animated renderings (below) of the proposed train station design. Included in the update was moving the parking garage 25′ further south than the previous design. That increases the buffer area with the adjacent Library Commons neighborhood from 20′ to 45′. The VT representatives stressed the surface parking space is still large enough for a TOD. The new garage position is not the central location suggested by many residents. A central position on the library parcel would prevent a TOD at the library entrance. When built, the TOD would result in virtually no surface parking. For more on that, see our article Brightline: Boca can have its cake and …
Relocating the garage resulted in a net loss of 14 surface parking spaces over the previous design. But, there is still a net gain overall (surface and garage) for the library over the current parking. Additionally, Brightline recommended eliminating 3 spaces of curbside parking on 4th St so as to allow a dedicated turn lane.
“The Public Costs of Private Rail”
For an investigative look at the true cost of SoFla’s Brightline born by public funding, see the related article from the Institute of Transportation Engineers website (ITE.com) written by FAU professors Saginor & Dumbaugh – South Florida’s Brightline: The Public Costs of Private Rail
Even under the most generous interpretation, the Brightline project provides FECI with a mechanism for doubling the system’s freight capacity while masking its environmental impacts from public review. For transportation professionals tasked with representing the public interest, Brightline suggests that such “privately-funded” projects should be regarded with a healthy dose of skepticismSaginor & Dumbaugh
Boca Matters Interview with Brightline
While the VTUSA team was working on the new plans, Director of Media Relations at Virgin, Michael Hicks, sat down in our studio on November 19th and discussed the value a Brightline station brings to Boca Raton plus answered questions about the parking garage location and the plan to build a TOD at the library entrance. Official Virgin Trains renderings. Used with permission.
Background on the Brightline Lease
Additionally, on Nov 21, the local attorney representing Virgin Trains, Mitch Kirschner, explained to the Planning and Zoning board that “the Mayor and Council made an overture to Brightline” about building a station in Boca Raton. As Kirschner explains, the Mayor, City Council, city staff, city attorney, outside council, Deputy City Manager George Brown and a team from Virgin Trains developed the lease and plan for a Brightline station, parking garage and transit oriented development (a multifamily hi-rise known as a TOD) on the downtown Boca Raton Library parking lot. Kirschner states that the lease “is a joint application of the city and Brightline”.
For More Information
Explanation of the proposed design and some alternatives from a Boca resident perspective, see our Boca Matters video segment: Boca Deserves a Better Train Station Design.
Investigation into what’s already happening to local businesses next to the library, see our Boca Matters video segment: Will Brightline Development Run Over Small Businesses?
UPDATES: This article was updated to include VTUSA animated renderings.