CSX Corp. won’t fill Miami’s passenger rail gap
Written by Susan Danseyar on May 31, 2016
The county has hit a wall in talks with rail company CSX Corp. about buying its freight tracks for an 11-mile east-west commuter line, says Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr., so it’s not a viable way to relieve traffic congestion.
At one time there seemed every reason to look into CSX’s underused freight lines as an alternative to Metrorail-driven mass transit given the prohibitive costs, Mr. Bovo said during a Sunshine meeting Tuesday.
However, it’s a little more complicated when working with a partner that wants the county to look at more assets than it needs, said Mr. Bovo, who heads the county’s Transportation & Mobility Committee. He spearheaded a plan to have the state pay for CSX freight lines and then transfer them to the county for transit use, filling two huge gaps in a rail transit system that lacks an east-west line. The proposed commuter rail, with new stations, would run as far west as Northwest 137th Avenue, beginning at the Miami Intermodal Center next to Miami International Airport and running along the Dolphin Expressway.
CSX owns almost 50 miles of freight rail in the county, said Mr. Bovo. “They seem favorable to selling the 11 miles but would want us to come back and buy the whole thing,” he said Tuesday. “It’s an ‘all or nothing’ situation, and we’re not interested in ‘all or nothing’.”
More feasible, Mr. Bovo said, is a plan Transit and Public Works Director Alice Bravo is working on with the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) whereby a route from the airport might run light rail all the way to the Palmetto Expressway.
In 1998, the county submitted to the Federal Department of Transportation a plan that was approved but never implemented to extend Metrorail along a shoulder of 836 donated by MDX.