Xavier Suarez Calls for Fast Start Re: Northeast Corridor

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Miami, Florida – The MPO’s Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) plan involves the development of six new transit lines throughout Miami-Dade. The SMART plan’s Northeast Corridor is proposed to run north to south parallel to Biscayne Boulevard, connecting Downtown Miami to Aventura.

Within the next twelve months, the Florida East Coast Industry’s (FECI) All Aboard system will be in place, connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, and eventually Orlando. FECI is committed to permitting the use of its All Aboard passenger rail for a commuter train that will link Downtown Miami to various population centers. As shown in the accompanying sketch, the Northeast Corridor will serve Midtown, Upper East Side, North Miami, North Miami Beach, and Aventura.

At last week’s Transit & Mobility Committee meeting, Commissioner Suarez discussed funding the Northeast Corridor based on the same model that Tri-Rail used to acquire the right-of-way necessary to connect the last Tri-Rail station (known as IRIS) to Downtown Miami. That model, negotiated by City of Miami Chairman Keon Hardemon and Commissioner Francis Suarez, entailed the purchase from FECI of a “perpetual easement” for the modest price of $1 million. Assuming that same funding model, a perpetual easement can be purchased from the FECI for the use of its All Aboard passenger track that is already being built to connect Downtown to Aventura.

The County administration is committed to this effort, as reflected by MDT Director Alice Bravo’s comment: “Mayor Gimenez wants to jumpstart the implementation of the SMART corridors and directed us to explore this type of near-term service on the FEC corridor several months ago. The existing rail infrastructure makes this a prime corridor for an expedited implementation timeline.”

As envisioned by Commissioner Suarez and stated in the Transit & Mobility Committee meeting, the train stops would be funded by the various cities along the line: City of Miami at Midtown and Upper East Side (79th Street), City of North Miami (NE 125th Street), City of North Miami Beach (NE 163rd Street), and City of Aventura (NE 199th Street).

Premised on the above, the capital cost of the Northeast Corridor would be a negligible amount, involving minimum track work and signaling expenses. (To the extent that a maintenance facility is needed for the rail cars, the Northeast Corridor could use Tri-Rail’s existing facility.)

The importance of this proposal is to enable commuters to travel up and down the line at zero or minimum fare using mass transit instead of vehicles that clog up I-95 and pollute our environment.

Chairman of the Miami-Dade Delegation Rep. Jose Felix Diaz has embraced this concept, as has State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (the only Dade Delegation member sitting on the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development).

I invite the mayors of each municipality along the Northeast Corridor to join in support.

cc: State Representative Jose Felix Diaz
State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla
Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade County
Mayor Tomas Regalado, City of Miami
Mayor Smith Joseph, City of North Miami
Mayor George Vallejo, City North Miami Beach
Mayor Enid Weisman, City of Aventura

For more information, contact Yvonne Maffia at 305-375-5680 or ymaffia@miamidade.gov

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