Cities To Be Asked To Finance Commuter Rail
By Lou Ortiz
Cities along the route of the proposed South Florida East Coast Corridor commuter rail line will be asked to contribute to help finance the venture, officials say.
"A key component is some funding from the cities where there will be station stops," said Steven Abrams, newly elected chairman of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.
"This is a request to the cities, not the counties," he said. "There is a real economic benefit tied to the request."
The commuter service from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties would run more than 50 trains daily, with stops in 22 stations along the way. The cities include Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach and Jupiter
The completed project is expected to relieve congestion in the downtowns of the cities and enhance east-west and north-south connections.
Those connections include all modes of transportation, from Tri Rail and Metrorail and tri-county bus services to intrastate rail connection from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach to Orlando, a private development by All Aboard Florida.
The All Aboard Florida service is designed for tourists and business travelers. The 240-mile Orlando service is to be 100% privately funded, with completion expected in 2014, its developers say.
Mr. Abrams said the daily eastern commuter corridor project would also seek federal funding, but just as important would be generating revenue from mixed-use developments — retail, office space and residential — at stations along the route that could accommodate such projects.
"Mixed-use development on the eastern corridor," he said, "would be a real value for the station sites for all the cities along the way."
But Mr. Abrams said development might not be conducive for some stations along the route. That would depend on the availability of land, among other things.
During a July meeting of the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization, state officials involved with the corridor project said that later this year ridership numbers are to be known for the new commuter service, along with potential funding and a strategy for driving the project ahead.
"My priority is to start train service on the eastern track," said Mr. Abrams, adding that all that is needed is to "finalize a workable plan."
A timetable to chug ahead would follow a huddle and agreement on a plan among the Florida Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Authority [RTA] and the South Florida East Corridor, among others.
"But we want to present possibilities to them," Mr. Abrams said. "We have the capability of administering train service on the eastern track without disruption or adding more bureaucracy. We’ve developed a plan that would provide service through all the downtowns."
"The RTA once had a very elaborate and costly plan to put service on the eastern line," he said. "We found a way to simplify it, and now it’s time to implement it."To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.