Funding could sidetrack new rail line
Written by Lidia Dinkova on April 16, 2014
One of many road bumps a proposed South Florida commuter rail faces is finding a regional funding source to cover 25% of the capital cost and the entire annual operating cost.
Preliminary estimates put the capital cost for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link to connect Miami to Jupiter at $720 million to $800 million. Half would probably be federally funded and another 25% would probably come from the state, said the project’s steering committee comprised of staff.
The annual operating cost could be $33 million to $38 million.
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are each responsible for funding part of the regional cost. But exactly how much cost would be allocated to each county and what would be the funding source haven’t been determined.
“It’s not as simple as a third, a third, a third,” said Gerry O’Reilly, a committee member with the Florida Department of Transportation. Factors include the number of riders and stations in each county.
“Once you decide your percentages, you have to decide where your money comes from,” he said.
A steering committee last week heard 11 funding options, including a sales tax, a gas tax and a rental-car surcharge.
The Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) said a rental-car surcharge, which would work in conjunction with another fee, is an option that’s unfair to Miami-Dade because it’s “disproportionately” paid by the county.
“I know you say these are tourists and not residents, but the bottom line is the surcharge for the rental car could go to improvements within Miami-Dade County,” said the MPO’s Wilson Fernandez.
Committee members have said elected officials will ultimately decide the source and cost allocation for the regional funding.