Along a 200-mile stretch of Florida’s eastern coast, Fortress is embarking on its boldest project yet: the nation’s only purely private intercity passenger railroad.
The project, All Aboard Florida, is expected to take five years and nearly $3 billion to build. At speeds reaching 100 miles an hour, it plans to eventually carry passengers from Miami to Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
And if trains start rolling next year, as planned, and prove successful, the project may provide a template for private investment in public infrastructure for years to come.
Yet this ambitious private project hinged on the blessing of government officials.
The administration of Gov. Rick Scott of Florida conditionally agreed to lease out state property to All Aboard Florida, which plans to share the track with an existing freight train company. Federal regulators, after some initial concerns, concluded that the railroad’s safety plans met their standards. And a state-authorized nonprofit approved tax-free bonds that can help finance All Aboard Florida’s business.