All Aboard: A new commuter train may soon arrive in Miami

By | November 7th, 2011 | 9 Comments
Florida East Coast Railway

Both FDOT and Tri-Rail have proposals to bring passenger rail to Miami on the Florida East Coast Railway.

This post was produced by Open Media Miami, an independent company that works in partnership with Beached Miami to cover neighborhood news along the Biscayne Corridor.

With two government transportation agencies pushing hard for an expansion of passenger rail in South Florida, a new commuter train may soon be chugging through downtown Miami.

As reported by El Nuevo Herald, the Florida Department of Transportation recently proposed a short-term plan to start a passenger route from downtown to Fort Lauderdale using the Florida East Coast Railway, which runs parallel to U.S. 1 (Biscayne Boulevard/Brickell Avenue) in Miami-Dade County and is currently being revamped to transport cargo. The FDOT plan calls for six stations along the route and would cost around $300 million.

The department’s long-term goal is a regional route from Miami to Jupiter, which in total could cost $1 billion, FDOT’s mobility development manager Amie Goddeau said during a town hall meeting on Oct. 18.

At the same time, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), the agency that manages Tri-Rail, is pushing its own proposal for an expansion of the FEC railway. The Transportation Authority says its plan to connect Miami to Jupiter via passenger rail would cost $270 million — $730 million less than FDOT’s — and take between three and five years to complete.

“We believe this new [plan] is superior to FDOT’s approach, as it can be implemented quickly … provides better regional service coverage, and will not require any additional county or FDOT operating funds,” SFRTA transportation planning manager Joe Quinty told Transit Miami.

Under its proposal, the Transportation Authority would manage the expanded FEC route itself, thereby minimizing new administrative costs, and part of Tri-Rail’s train fleet would connect to the FEC line at a Pompano Beach switch point. The agency’s plan envisions seven stations — at 163rd Street, 125th Street, 79th Street, 54th Street, 36th Street, 11th Street/Overtown, and Government Center — and 26 trains running every day between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Thanks to the FEC-Tri-Rail switch at Pompano Beach, 26 trains would also run daily between Mangonia Park, in West Palm Beach, and downtown Miami. Another six trains would run between Miami and Jupiter along the FEC line every day.

The Transportation Authority’s biggest challenge going forward is that it still needs to get approval from the FEC itself. After that, the agency would have to present its proposal to the tri-county metropolitan planning organizations.

FDOT, on the other hand, already has FEC’s support and will present its plan to the Miami-Dade planning organization in February.

Whichever agency may end up getting the go-ahead to expand the FEC line, the project would impact Miami residents who struggle to get around their sprawling city.

“This would help me a lot because I live near the FEC line and I would just have to walk a few blocks to take the train,” Luis Maldonado, an aspiring rapper who doesn’t own a car, told El Nuevo Herald in an interview by the train tracks, on the intersection of 36th Street and Federal Highway. “That would save me time and money.”

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9 Comments on “All Aboard: A new commuter train may soon arrive in Miami”

  1. 1 Georgemia said at 8:09 pm on November 7th, 2011:

    I’m glad to hear that commuter rail is moving forward for South Florida.

    The state is getting ready to spend untold millions improving intersections at Ives Dairy, Miami Gardens, and even the decade old Golden Glades interchange.

    Giving potential passengers in the most densely populated part of the region a downtown to downtown option could take a big load off of 95, and spur development along the route.

  2. 2 Owens said at 6:30 am on November 8th, 2011:

    Nice article. I hope one of the plans goes through. Miami-Dade needs to start reducing its big carbon footprint, if only because it stands to feel the impacts of climate change first.

    We also need better public transit in the western suburbs, but Metrorail expansion plans seem to have been taken off the table for the next ten years. An express busway or light rail down I-75 to Metrorail had also been discussed but apparently abandoned? Where’s the movement for pub. trans.?

  3. 3 Sergio N. Candido said at 10:50 am on November 8th, 2011:

    I haven’t heard of a bus or light rail on I-75, we can look into it. I know there’s an express bus from downtown Miami to Broward that goes on I-95 that was implemented not too long ago.

    Thanks,

    Sergio

  4. 4 Barbara said at 7:40 pm on November 14th, 2011:

    We need the Tri-Rail to be extended north of Palm Beach County as well. I live in Stuart and work in Lauderdale. Just getting to the train in Mangonia Park is a challenge some times. People in other parts of Florida would love to be able to work down south where employment is more available.

  5. 5 George said at 8:50 pm on November 14th, 2011:

    I agree, Barbara.

    The original proposal is the FEC track from Jupiter to downtown Miami, with connectors to the Tri-Rail system.

    Because of limitations in the current environment, they might have to “start small,” but once that first leg proves successful, I have no doubt that the trains will extend their reach throughout the tri-county area!

    Let your representatives know how you feel!

  6. 6 Rog in Miami Gardens said at 9:48 am on November 25th, 2011:

    This is definitely a good idea. We need to act now while the political will is there. Those who live along that corridor and those who live in Jupiter and surrounding suburbs have been asking, begging, pleading for this for the longest time.

    It is very seldom that political will meshes with the will of the people, so we need to seize this moment. I prefer the SFRTA proposal over the FDOT one, only because FDOT is known for pushing their nose into the political and social issues involving LOCAL transit issues; whereas on the other hand, SFRTA has run Tri-Rail so well, pushing it to the Number Two, fast-growing commuter rail line in the United States! That’s a wonderful accomplishment for public transit in a car-dominant society.

  7. 7 RANDY CROPP said at 8:17 pm on February 20th, 2012:

    THIS IS THE BIGGEST WAST OF MONEY. IF THE TRAIN CANNOT MAKE IT ON THE CSX TRACK WE ARE GOING TO TRY IT ON THE FEC. STOP SPENDING TAXPAYERS MONIES AS THIS IS ONLY A DROP IN THE BUCKET OF WHAT IT WILL COST.

  8. 8 donP said at 2:50 pm on February 23rd, 2012:

    For this to make sense, they need to add another east-west exchange between the 79th st station and metrorail transfer station. This would provide service to MIA for all those south of the Pompano east west exchange.

  9. 9 George Bishopric said at 12:12 pm on February 24th, 2012:

    Like that idea and there are existing east west tracks that could work. Once built, it can be expanded!


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