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Front Page » Top Stories » Bringing Tri-Rail into downtown Miami in peril

Bringing Tri-Rail into downtown Miami in peril

Written by on May 3, 2016
Bringing Tri-Rail into downtown Miami in peril

If all of the entities involved in bringing Tri-Rail into downtown Miami can’t finalize financial agreements by May 17, All Aboard Florida may withdraw its offer to have commuter service operate out of its MiamiCentral terminal.

So said a May 2 letter from Alice Bravo, director of Miami-Dade County’s Transit and Public Works department, to Jack Stephens, executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the agency that operates Tri-Rail.

All Aboard Florida, a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, “has advanced construction of the commuter rail platforms and is incurring significant costs since the station has gone vertical and columns have been erected,” Ms. Bravo’s letter said. “If we are not able to execute agreements by the aforementioned date, All Aboard Florida has advised us that they will be forced to cease construction on the commuter rail infrastructure.

“Without a definitive plan of action and inter-agency coordination to pursue new agreements, we could forfeit this unique opportunity to bring commuter rail to the central business district.”

“For several months, Mayor Gimenez has been leading efforts to identify a funding solution for Tri-Rail’s downtown station,” said Francois Illas, vice president at Florida East Coast Industries. “We appreciate his leadership and the specific schedule put forth. We are in the process of confirming the other partners’ commitments to the timeline so we can continue construction at the station.  If this timeline is not met, we will have no choice but to stop construction immediately on the Tri-Rail station.”

Within the next two weeks, contributing entities such as the commissions of Miami-Dade County and Miami, Miami’s community redevelopment agencies, the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, Bayfront Park Management Trust and the county’s Transit and Mobility Committee must sign agreements to move the project forward, Ms. Bravo’s letter said.

“Miami-Dade County would like to expedite the approval of the necessary documents to honor our collective partnership with All Aboard Florida and help them seek reimbursement for the costs they are currently incurring,” Ms. Bravo’s letter adds. “Miami-Dade County stands ready to help facilitate coordination between the agencies.”

“We would certainly encourage all funding parties to work together in order to expedite this project to the benefit of the citizens of Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, the Southeast Overtown/Park West and Omni community redevelopment agencies, Miami DDA and Bayfront Park Trust,” Mr. Stephens said. “The governing board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has done all in its power to see that this project comes to fruition.”

4 Responses to Bringing Tri-Rail into downtown Miami in peril

  1. John Dohm

    May 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    As a taxpayer and one who contributes untold hours to my community I am very disappointed by receiving an ultimatum of this nature from All Aboard Florida and Florida East Coast Industries. We have made them what they are and they stand to benefit handsomely through the proposed relationship.

    This is a time for cooperation, not ultimatums.

    • J H Harding

      May 6, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      As I understand the issue, various Florida public agencies and individual officials agreed to provide funding for the Tri-Rail portion of the new downtown Miami train station. So far, those promises have not been fulfilled, thus All Aboard Florida/Florida East Coast Industries is understandably unwilling to continue building the Tri-Rail station facilities at its cost.

      Totally private funding for new intercity rail passenger facilities is rare throughout the world, and non-existent for commuter rail/rail transit infrastructure. It is thus unreasonable to expect All Aboard Florida to increase its liabilities by absorbing the cost of Tri-Rail’s portion of AAF’s Miami station.

      The public benefits of both intercity and urban rail passenger service, as measured in economic, social and environmental terms, far exceed the financial cost of its creation and operation. It is thus far past time for public funding to be provided to complete this station project.

  2. J H Harding

    May 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Yet another example of how this nation’s insistence upon multiple layers of government thwart progress. A truly progressive state would, in a case such as this, bring all the parties together to promptly work out a funding agreement, with the warning that failure will lead to cuts in state funding for all such parties and the use of these savings to provide the money needed to bring Tri-Rail into downtown Miami.

  3. TransitDave

    May 10, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Let’s hope common sense will prevail and they various parties get their respective acts together. Up in Palm Beach county we’re looking forward to being able to get to points south on the new commuter rail line, as well as on All Aboard Florida. Just do it.