By Alfonso Chardy
Besides, it only cost $22 million and after Heat season, only downtown workers will be inconvenienced!
A new $22-million Port of Miami rail track for freight trains is nearly ready after nine months of construction, according to Florida East Coast Railway (FEC).
Husein Cumber, an FEC spokesman, told El Nuevo Herald during a recent tour of the project that the first train will run later this year, likely in the fourth quarter and well after basketball season ends at AmericanAirlines Arena, located next to the track at the seaport entrance.
“We will let the Miami Heat win their championship and will start after that,” said Cumber, jokingly.
FEC executives have been in close contact with arena and City of Miami officials so that the new service will have the least impact on downtown activity, mainly in the vicinity of the rail crossing next to the arena.
Cumber said there will be no train service before or after events in the arena to avoid further tying up traffic. Traffic congestion on roads around the arena increases significantly before and after events.
Initially the service would feature one train – one leaving the port with cargo and one coming back empty, said Cumber.
“We support the project, but raised concerns as to the possible impact on our stakeholders downtown,” said Javier Betancourt, deputy director of the Downtown Development Authority. “The FEC has been very good about keeping us advised on their plans and we understand the trains will be short and swift so as not to tie up traffic, particularly on Biscayne Boulevard.”
Trains will move at about 30 miles per hour and generally clear an intersection in roughly 90 seconds.
“We’re talking about a train that will go through the crossings in a typical traffic-light cycle,” said Cumber.
The 4.2-mile track runs from the port to a point near Northeast 79th Street where it connects with existing FEC tracks to Jacksonville and the Hialeah Railyard.
FEC’s main goal is to transport port cargo to Jacksonville where it can be loaded aboard trains from other railroads headed for various cities around the country. The amount and frequency of cargo eventually will dictate the trains’ schedules, said Cumber.
“So, a customer may say they want a container coming out of the Port of Miami in Atlanta or Memphis or Charlotte on a certain date at a certain time,” said Cumber. “And what we need to do is make sure the train leaves the Port of Miami in time to make a connection in Jacksonville in order to get that container to the end destination.”
Once FEC secures client commitments, Cumber said, it will draw up specific freight train itineraries.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/13/2747438/freight-train-system-to-start.html#storylink=cpy