The Palm Beach Post: All Aboard Florida prepares to begin construction in West Palm Beach

Posted on April 22, 2015

WEST PALM BEACH — All Aboard Florida is preparing to begin construction at the site of its planned train station in downtown West Palm Beach — marking a milestone for the express passenger rail service.


Crews last week began installing a chain-link fence around the 2-acre-site between Datura and Evernia streets west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The fence was put in place as part of utility work that must be completed before crews begin construction, All Aboard Florida said through a spokesman.


The utility work is expected to begin in about 10 days. Vertical construction on the $29 million station should start mid-year, All Aboard Florida said.


Underground electrical is already underway at the site. Crews will be installing water, sewer and storm water piping at the site through August, the company said. Foundation work for the building is expected to begin soon.


All Aboard Florida began work at the site in November. Crews demolished the former Sewell Hardware building and the 89-year-old Sasser Glass building to make way for the 60,000-square-foot station and platform.


In January, All Aboard Florida permanently closed rail crossings at Datura and Evernia streets to accommodate its passenger trains. The station’s 800-foot train platform is planned to rise where the street now crosses the tracks.


Negotiations are ongoing between West Palm Beach officials and All AboardFlorida representative on a number of items, including a planned connector road to link Datura and Clematis streets just west of the station in order to alleviate traffic from caused by the closure of the two rail crossings, city spokesman Elliot Cohen said.


City officials have also been at odds over the private rail company’s plan to develop property near Rosemary Avenue, west of the planned station.


All Aboard had asked the city for, among other things, a “transfer of development rights” that would allow a height increase from 10 stories to 25 and a change in the downtown master plan to increase density around the station.


City incentives currently reward developers who build office or hotel space; All Aboard wants the incentives in order to build residences.


All Aboard Florida plans 32 passenger trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the FEC tracks, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Miami-to-West Palm Beach service is expected to begin in late 2016 with the Orlando leg starting in 2017.


The project has drawn criticism from Treasure Coast residents and local marine industry leaders who are concerned about the impact the project will have on waterways and their way of life. It has also won support from Palm Beach County leaders and tourism officials.

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