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Front Page » Transportation » Funds fuel passenger rail link for Tri-Rail into downtown Miami

Funds fuel passenger rail link for Tri-Rail into downtown Miami

Written by on January 24, 2017
Funds fuel passenger rail link for Tri-Rail into downtown Miami

City leaders have followed through on part a financial commitment to help establish a passenger rail link for Tri-Rail into downtown Miami.

Plans call for Tri-Rail to have a place inside the new MiamiCentral station from All Aboard Florida, now under construction paralleling Northwest First Avenue.

The station will serve as a major transportation hub and be home to Brightline, a privately-run passenger rail service from here to Orlando, to debut later this year.

City commissioners on Jan. 12 declared the city’s intent to issue tax-exempt or taxable special purpose improvement bonds, or both, in the expected total of $18 million to reimburse itself for funds it advanced for expenses of public governmental capital improvements at MiamiCentral.

This is part of an agreement among the city, the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which manages Tri-Rail.

Miami city commissioners sit as a board of directors for the community redevelopment agencies in the city, with each CRA having its own annual budget.

The Nov. 28, 2016, agreement says the anticipated total costs to bring the Tri-Rail link into the new station is $50.4 million. Earlier estimates had pegged the total at about $70 million.

The agreement notes that to assist in the Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link Project, the CRA, the city and the transportation authority wish to facilitate reimbursement to the authority of design and construction costs for additional platform improvements to the MiamiCentral station.

The related governmental capital improvements will consist of: a 62,000-square-foot passenger platform and associated trackage for Tri-Rail commuter trains; a mezzanine level consisting of columns and related structures that support the Tri-Rail platform and associated trackage; and “only the shared MiamiCentral Station capital project elements including… portions of elevators, escalators, support spaces, and storage areas …”

According to the transportation authority, others agreeing to help pay for bringing the Tri-Rail link into downtown Miami include Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, the Omni/Midtown Community Redevelopment Agency, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, Bayfront Park Management Trust, All Aboard Florida and the state.

The massive steel and concrete transportation facility, MiamiCentral, continues to rise on the footprint of the city’s former train station, just north of the county’s government center tower.

The new rail station is being integrated with the Miami-Dade County Metrorail and Metromover systems and is being considered a major transit hub for the city, with connections to buses, trolleys, taxis and more.

MiamiCentral is also bringing together a mix of retail and offices.

Jack Stephens, transportation authority executive director, in his recent report focusing on the year ahead, spoke of the cooperation and partnership that is bringing more transit options to Miami.

“The most exciting development on the horizon is a partnership with All Aboard Florida (AAF) that will provide a one-seat ride into downtown Miami. Construction of the new MiamiCentral station is well under way and is anticipated to be completed in mid to late 2017,” said Mr. Stephens.

“Once completed and Brightline begins operation, as AAF has named its service, we will be able to transport our passengers directly into downtown Miami. The new station will eventually serve as the southern-most terminus of Tri-Rail Coastal Link, a new service that is proposed to operate on the FEC corridor through the downtowns of South Florida’s coastal cities,” he said.

All Aboard Florida, owned by Florida East Coast Railway, offered the regional transportation authority the opportunity to run tracks and Tri-Rail trains into the vast station it’s building downtown.

11 Responses to Funds fuel passenger rail link for Tri-Rail into downtown Miami

  1. DC Copeland

    January 25, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Now all that needs to be done is to move the county courthouse operations out of the fast decaying 1926 structure into space next to the station. Hopefully someone or a group is working on this. What a convenience that would be to judicial workers and especially jurors who have to schlep in for jury duty. Think of all of the cars that will take off the roads.

  2. Rich

    January 25, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Would like to see at least one Amtrak train running down the coast on FEC to this station. Amtrak service from the Northeast to Florida’s coastal cities has huge potential. Running via Sebring on a longer inland route while missing the east coast market is dumb. Amtrak should split their trains in Jacksonville and run half of the train to Tampa via Orlando and the other half to Miami via Cocoa (serving Port Canaveral and every major cruiseport).

  3. Jose

    January 26, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Really people can’t walk a block from the station to the old court house?

  4. David Aldinger

    January 27, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    What should be done is to leave both Silver Service trains where they are but extend the Palmetto back to Miami again only this time over the FEC route. Amtrak needs to develop a partnership with Brightline, Tri-Rail and commuter rail operators elsewhere in North America.

  5. Randall Robinson

    January 31, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    This is super exciting. But I took TriRail/Metrorail to Government Center ten days ago, and I don’t see how in the world that station could be operational in less than two years. It’s not just that the station has to be completed, but so does the earthwork to raise the tracks to the level of the platforms, which will be at about third-floor level. I hope I’m wrong! Also it’s a terminal, not a station. They’re trying to evolve Grand Central TERMINAL.

    • Richard

      February 1, 2017 at 6:43 am

      It’s nice to see that someone other than me knows the difference between a station and a terminal. Grand Central Station is the Subway station below the terminal where trains stop and proceed on. Grand Central Terminal is generally the last stop for long distance and commuter railroads.

      • DC Copeland

        February 1, 2017 at 10:05 am

        Guys, “terminal,” “station,” let’s call the whole thing off. Even AAF refers to it as a “station.” But in the end, who really cares. The most important thing is that commuter train service has finally returned to downtown Miami. This is the second biggest thing to ever happen to Miami. The first, of course, being Flagler’s first “station.”

  6. Randall Robinson

    February 1, 2017 at 10:05 am

    #urbanrailnerds unite! My understanding was that GC Station referred to the post office there, or near there. But your interpretation makes sense. Wish it was MiamiCentral Terminal to give proper due, to educate rather than perpetuate. Also, I meant “evoke” not “evolve.”

  7. Randall Robinson

    February 1, 2017 at 11:49 am

    The point we’re making is just that, that regardless of what AAF is calling it, it’s a terminal. Don’t know about Richard, but this isn’t something that’s keeping me up at night.

  8. Rich

    February 1, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    You guys all know that the FEC is for sale, right? Only other private rail venture (the short lived Iowa Central Hooser State) has just called it quits. All Aboard Florida is spending a lot of money for just the first short stretch and the extension to Orlando is still just a dream. I want to see this entire project completed and eventually extended to Jacksonville and even Tampa, but there is no guarantee that any of this is going to happen. Whoever buys the FEC may not want any part of it. CSX doesn’t like passenger trains on its rails especially high-speed ones. AAF is supposed to be a separate entity but it’s still going to have to make money and that’s the hard part. Being part of Fortrees Capital and building on the real estate assets was a big part of the plan. Without that, the project may find it difficult to survive.

    As far as the “Terminal” vs. “Station” conversation. A “Terminal” is at the end of a rail line and a “Station” is any stop between Terminals. Miami is a Terminal like Boston’s South Station Terminal and NYC’s Grand Central Terminal. Penn Station in New York has through tracks so it’s not technically a Terminal but it is the end station for some trains, like the LIRR and NJ Transit because they end their runs there. However, Amtrak runs through Pennsylvania “STATION”, so it’s not a Terminal.

  9. Jishnu Mukerji

    February 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

    This obsession with the difference between “Terminal” and “Station” is one that is limited to American rail fans only. No one else really cares either way. Boston South Station and North Station are called “Station”s, and have always been, even though both are “Terminal”s. So let us please get over it. 🙂