Miami Downtown Development Authority Hashing Out Plans To Bring Trirail Downtown
Written by Catherine Lackner on October 29, 2009
By Catherine Lackner
Commuters who travel by rail into downtown Miami from points north might have their journeys shortened considerably if a new plan to bring Tri-Rail into the central business district succeeds.
The tri-county commuter train runs daily from Miami to West Palm Beach on tracks owned by CSX, which means riders must disembark at Northwest 79th Street in northwest Miami-Dade and board Metrorail to get downtown. But Florida East Coast Railway tracks just blocks from the transfer point head directly downtown, and switching Tri-Rail onto those tracks would give the train — and commuters — a straight shot.
"If we could bring Tri-Rail downtown it would be a huge advantage," Vice Chair Neisen Kasdin told board members of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority this month. It’s been shown that the fewer transfers and accommodations riders are forced to make, the more likely they are to use trains, he said.
"It’s a priority to get Miami-Dade County behind it," he said, noting that there has been a perception that a re-routed Tri-Rail would compete with Metrorail.
While long-range plans for South Florida include passenger rail transportation into downtown Miami eventually, "This would be quicker and much less expensive," Mr. Kasdin said.
Board member Oscar Rodriguez asked how it could be done.
"Tri-Rail will negotiate with FEC," Mr. Kasdin said. "In fact, they’re having discussions now."
"We are looking at that option," confirmed Bonnie Arnold, Tri-Rail spokeswoman. "FEC comes across our corridor just south of Northwest 79th Street." The potential downtown Miami link and a planned extension to Jupiter are already part of presentations that have been shown would-be investors, she said.
The Florida Department of Transportation is also studying the issue as part of its long-term agenda, she added.
"We have to provide advocacy and leadership if we want this done," Mr. Kasdin told the downtown authority’s board. "I think we really ought to move on it as soon as possible."