FAA gives OK to Orlando airport terminal space for All Aboard Florida

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The Federal Aviation Administration approved expansion plans for Orlando International Airport that includes possible terminal space for the All Aboard Florida passenger rail.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced the FAA approval late Friday, with plans for a South Airport People Mover Complex and an intermodal transit facility.

“Without this FAA approval, there would be no airport expansion, nor would we be able to connect future transportation links,” Mica said in a statement. “The airport, which was originally constructed to handle 24 million passengers, and now accommodates nearly 35 million annually, would be left in a holding pattern without this approval.”

Gov. Rick Scott proposed in February spending $213.5 million over three years to develop a complex in Orlando to serve a combination of aviation, rental-car, private-vehicle, airport shuttle and rail transportation.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority expects to invest as much as $467.5 million in the multi-purpose project, which could eventually accommodate All Aboard Florida.

Community and resident groups, as well as politicians, are questioning the long-term impact of passenger rail service through the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County.

Miami-to-Orlando service has scheduled for a 2016 launch, along with a Miami-to-West Palm Beach line.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.