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Front Page » Business & Finance » County looks at buying rail lines from CSX Corp. for transit

County looks at buying rail lines from CSX Corp. for transit

Written by on August 8, 2017
County looks at buying rail lines from CSX Corp. for transit

Miami-Dade’s business leaders should look again at a proposal to have the county buy 35 miles of rail line from the CSX Corp. for new commuter service, County Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo Jr. says.

The county and business leaders have looked at the plan in the past but had difficulty striking a deal. But Mr. Bovo says things now have changed.

The railroad has two lines that would tie into county transportation plans, one running 11 miles from near Miami International Airport to the west and the other running 24 miles from near the airport to Homestead in the south end of the county.

The new element in the equation, Mr. Bovo told Miami Today, is that the railroad changed its leadership with the March announcement that F. Hunter Harrison, the 72-year-old former head of the Canadian Pacific Railway, had signed on for a four-year term as CSX chief executive officer. The railroad, he said, has approached Miami-Dade County and is interested in selling the lines and then running limited freight service on those lines in pre-dawn hours, leaving the rails otherwise clear to establish new commuter service to both West Dade and South Dade.

Mr. Bovo says he is interested in having business leaders look at the plan and not leave it to politicians, noting that business leaders in the past had looked at county acquisition of the CSX line to the west.

In June 2015 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation acquired a 21-mile segment of rail from Framingham to Mansfield from CSX Corp. for $23 million. Mr. Bovo said that put in his mind a Florida price of $1 million a mile, or $35 million, to pay CSX. Even a price of $1.5 million per mile would work for the county, he said.

He said he plans to meet with business leaders in September to advance the effort.

When Mr. Bovo a year ago discussed the possibility of buying the 11-mile segment running from Southwest 132nd Avenue to the Miami Intermodal Center near Miami International Airport, where commuters could link to Metrorail service, he suggested that line would cost about $100 million to build and require nearly $8 million per year to operate and maintain, a total cost that he labeled then “a drop in the bucket.”

At the time, he was suggesting the addition of the 24-mile segment running south at a later date.

But as the Metropolitan Planning Organization – now called the Transportation Planning Organization – considered Mr. Bovo’s proposal, member Maurice Ferré expressed doubt that CSX would cooperate.

“Have you ever dealt with CSX?” Mr. Ferré asked then. “Maybe they’ve changed, but as of last year they hadn’t”

Those comments came well before Mr. Harrison took the throttle of CSX.

Local government has acted before to try to acquire the CSX freight rail lines to convert to passenger service.

In December 2014 the Metropolitan Planning Organization requested a feasibility study of passenger service on the 11-mile east-west link. And in late 2015 the county commission voted to urge the Florida Legislature and the Department of Transportation to provide funding to buy the entire 35 miles of track.

10 Responses to County looks at buying rail lines from CSX Corp. for transit

  1. Roy R.

    August 8, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Why NOT ? extend the TRI-RAIL.

  2. Mark

    August 9, 2017 at 11:49 am

    How about you don’t touch the line and change the schedule of trains they train that runs now runs at a decent hour what you want to run it at 12 at night and make it return at early morning no! I don’t hear the train because I am at work half the time and I would love to see tri rail run by my area maybe even Amtrak but don’t destroy history on this line and don’t screw up the train schedule

  3. Pauline

    August 9, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    First of all I wouldn’t believe anything that the county proposed because it’s only in the interest of the mayor and the Commissioners not the common public people they have a hidden agenda for themselves!!! And this needs to be voted on and needs to be placed on the ballot so the public could be aware of how their tax dollars are being spent and I’m sure they would get opposition and it wouldn’t pass….

  4. Steve

    August 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Miami needs a better commute rail service like Cal train and Metrolink has in LA. People can park and ride to work and your air quality is better.
    Just a thought.

  5. AlG

    August 10, 2017 at 10:14 am

    ” Mr. Bovo said that put in his mind a Florida price of $1 million a mile, or $35 million, to pay CSX. Even a price of $1.5 million per mile would work for the county, he said.” Not exactly a great negotiator!

  6. mike crooks

    August 11, 2017 at 10:41 am

    A million $ a mile is CHEAP for a ready-to-run railroad line

  7. john eastman

    August 18, 2017 at 11:41 am

    All public transportation is a drain on taxpayers as it never pays for itself. I would never use such a train to nowhere as I don’t use Tri-Fail now. Each passenger using these public funded boondoggles could be bought a new car and fuel for life for what the cost per passenger is to taxpayers.

    FEC discontinued passenger service in late 60’s in S. Florida. There is a reason. If a private company with the efficiency and oversight of a BOD cannot turn a profit then there is no possible way a Government inherent with inefficient management could ever even break even.

    It is tyranny to collect taxes from me and spend my money on a boondoggle project that .01% of the population will use. The MPO should be disbanded and any public elected official promoting this incredible waste should be removed from office.

    SE Florida now has 13 million from St Lucie to Key West. We have far exceeded capacity. The elected should be concerned with stabilizing our population and ending growth. Adopt massive impact fees for ANY further development.

    Massive criminality, waste, fraud and corruption are the norm. Big boondoggle projects continue to flow the money to corrupt political rulers.

    • Hans Liebermann

      August 19, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Not to sound rude but the FEC discountinued service because cars became a thing plus the population was not as dense as it is right now.

      Becuase you mentioned the FEC, isn’t ironic that they are bringing the brightline and investing millions in South Fla?

      Public transportation works if you vote in the right people. I ride the metro rail everyday and its a way better option than getting charged by dozens of tolls while you’re stuck in traffic.

      I would like to hear your solution? They expanded highways and that did not work. Bus service will be cannibalized by traffic.

      Please tell me your solution.

  8. Edward

    August 20, 2017 at 11:21 am

    The Northeast corridor is far more expensive than South Florida land, therefore we should start negotiating at $250k/mile. Also, as far as I can tell these are single direction lines, what happens if a freight train breaks down? It’ll ruin the entre experience for thousands of people and the line will fall. What additional construction will help ensure the train runs on time.

  9. Emmanuel chill

    September 12, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Sure thing is that Miami at this point needs better rail service like the Metrolink. I guess it will make things faster. just my view