Miami Mortgage News

131- Miami-Orlando train track may host Tri-Rail commuter trains to downtown

April 15th, 2017 10:51 AM by Nour Ailan

Miami-Orlando train track may host Tri-Rail commuter trains to downtown

Tri-Rail, the commuter service that has been running trains on the CSX track west of Interstate 95 between Palm Beach County and Miami since late last century, is now working on a major new plan: to run trains into downtown Miami beginning in late 2016 or early 2017.

Jack Stephens, executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, said the plan calls for running the trains on a stretch of the same track that would be used by a planned Miami-Orlando passenger service.

The plan requires construction of a spur connecting the CSX track that Tri-Rail uses to the Florida East Coast Railway track. Though the spur is slated to be built by the Florida Department of Transportation, Tri-Rail is seeking an additional $69 million — money that would be needed within eight weeks to mesh with the construction schedule set for the Miami-Orlando service, known as All Aboard Florida. The money would be used to build Tri-Rail train platforms plus other enhancements such as ticket-vending machines.

Stephens said this is the best chance Tri-Rail has to run trains straight into downtown Miami. He said if transportation authorities miss this opportunity, Tri-Rail may never be able to operate trains into downtown Miami because costs would be prohibitive in the future. At most, he added, Tri-Rail would only be able to set up a station in mid-town Miami, but not downtown.

Tri-Rail expects funding to come from the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County and Miami’s Overtown Community Redevelopment Agency. Tri-Rail has yet to formally request any funds from the county. The plan did come up in a conversation in which Tri-Rail floated the idea of tapping CRA dollars.

Clarence Woods, executive director of the Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA, said he's had two conversations with Tri-Rail and as of Thursday hadn't received any formal proposals. That may be because CRA Chairman Keon Hardemon has told Tri-Rail that the CRA shouldn't be expected to foot the entire $48 million bill.

“He's not too keen on that,” Woods said. “The chair is determined to make sure other agencies pony up.”

If the CRA does commit funds, they would come in the form of property tax rebates.

According to City of Miami officials, the Florida Department of Transportation has agreed to pump $21 million into the project, leaving Tri-Rail with a $48 million hole to fill.

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Posted by Nour Ailan on April 15th, 2017 10:51 AM


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