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The much anticipated Brightline high-speed rail to Miami is almost complete.
Brightline officials were in Palm Beach County to accept the "Business of the Year" Award by the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.
"We are confident it's going to stimulate a lot of activity and development along the corridor," said CEO Dave Howard.
Residents like Clint Conatser are excited about the train. He just moved to South Florida three weeks ago from New York City, land of the commuter trains.
"A big part of that was the walkability of downtown," he said of his decision to live in West Palm Beach, "And the Brightline train is only going to expand that."
Conatser looks forward to Brightline giving people like him the ability to commute to work.
"It's nice to have that quick and easy connection to places like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Orlando," he said.
Howard says you can ride as soon as July when they launch introductory service to Fort Lauderdale.
"And then we will add the introductory service into Miami in August. That's what we call pre-season," he explained.
Full service will launch in September with a huge kickoff celebration.
"We think when we're fully operational, there will be millions of people that will use our service on an annual basis," said Howard.
Businesses owners in downtown are excited for the influx of new customers.
"It's just going to open a lot for the market. It's quick and easy to get down here. We're one block from the station," said Graham White, a barista at Subculture Coffee. It's going to make things a lot busier down here, which has its ups and downs, but I'm excited for it."
In Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, major construction projects are underway near the train stations, as residential properties and businesses are seizing the opportunity of growth and close proximity to Brightline.
"We believe we will be a transformative, game-changing member of the business community here. There's no doubt that increasing that mobility and connectivity among these three city centers will have an enormous impact on economic development," said Howard. "And it will also change where people feel they can live. Now living in West Palm Beach and working in Miami is actually an option, whereas it might not have been as much as of a consideration given traffic challenges."
Right now, crews are making finishing touches to the train station's lobbies and platforms. They're also lining up the colorful passenger cars.
"Which need to go through a series of tests before they can be put into service for passengers," Howard added.
Two more state-of-the-art trains are on the way from the Siemens manufacturing plant in California.
"Everything from beautiful comfortable seats to high-speed Wi-Fi, to a USB outlet at every seat -- it's going to be extraordinarily convenient and productive and fast, efficient travel," said Howard.
For months, Brightline worked on upgrading rail crossings across the area to make them safer so that trains don't have to sound their horns.
"That's something that's obviously important to the community so when we begin service in July, we anticipate that we'll be running on a quiet basis," said Howard.
We also asked about the Orlando project.
"We fully intend to connect to Orlando, but right now we're focused on launching our phase one service this summer and into the fall. Once we do that, we'll have a better sense of the timing of when we'll connect to Orlando," said Howard.
Here's a big heads-up for job hunters. Brightline needs to fill 200 positions, with 90 of those jobs in West Palm Beach alone. Positions include train attendants, cafe attendants, guest service agents, baggage attendants, and security officers.
You can apply on their website, www.gobrightline.com/careers.
Scripps Only Content 2017