The Florida Rail Enterprise, a division in the state Department of Transportation, holds public information meetings next week on the first phase of the state’s high-speed rail program, from Tampa-to-Orlando, which is estimated to cost $2.6 billion.

All meetings are open to the public Tuesday at the Tampa Convention Center, Wednesday at the Lakeland Civic Center, and Thursday at the Orange County Convention Center. Agendas will be posted at www.floridahighspeedrail.org.

In January, Florida was awarded $1.25 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for construction of the 84-mile first phase of the high-speed rail system.

The state has applied for another $1.12 billion in federal funding from the high-speed and intercity passenger-rail service development program.

The state plans to use a public-private partnership to design, build, operate, and maintain the first leg of the system. A concessionaire will be chosen next year. Construction is expected to start in 2012 with completion in 2015.

Planning is under way on the second phase of the high-speed rail system from Orlando to Miami.

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