The Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) received an unsolicited proposal to lease property owned by the state and CFX to build a high-speed route along the Interstate 4 highway corridor. FDOT says that, based on the unsolicited proposal, it is initiating an open, transparent procurement process for any interested private entities.

“As one of the nation’s fastest growing regions, Tampa Bay is a natural extension for Brightline,” says Mr Patrick Goddard, Brightline president and COO. “Our state’s residents, visitors and economy will benefit tremendously from a fully connected passenger rail system that includes our current operations in South Florida and our future line to Orlando. We are currently engaged in the RFP process, which is the first step needed to extend the system to the Tampa Bay region.”

Brightline was created with the intention of providing high-speed service from Miami to Orlando. Brightline began introductory services between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale on January 13, extending this service to Miami Central on May 19 with work set to begin later this year on an extension to Orlando Airport.

However, its high-speed aspirations have run into opposition from both residents and politicians. The company has also seen a number of senior executives come and go in the past year.

Parties interested in leasing FDOT and CFX owned rights-of-way to establish privately-funded passenger rail service between Orlando and Tampa will have 120 days to submit proposals after the RFP is released.

Florida governor Mr Rick Scott returned $US 2.3bn of federal funds allocated to develop a high-speed line between Orlando and Tampa, and eventually to Miami in February 2011, citing the project’s perceived risk to the state, which he said would have to take responsibility for billions of dollars in cost overruns.

He described the latest development as "an exciting development for Orlando, Tampa and our entire state."

“Through private investment, we ensure that this major project has zero financial risk to Florida taxpayers,” Scott says.