Brightline, county agree to access fee for new commuter rail system

Brightline, county agree to access fee for new commuter rail system
Rendering of a proposed station in the Wynwod area.
(Photo courtesy

The Miami-Dade County Commission on Nov. 13 unanimously approved an access fee agreement paving the way for a new commuter rail system on the Brightline/Florida East Coast Railway corridor.

The system would connect the northeast region of Miami-Dade County with possible station locations at 151st Street (FIU), 123rd Street (North Miami), El Portal, Little Haiti, the Design District and Wynwood.

The system would be interoperable with Brightline’s Aventura and MiamiCentral stations and would ultimately connect with Metrorail, Metromover and Tri-Rail.

This project, which has been studied for decades, will provide reliable, convenient transportation to one of the densest areas of Miami-Dade County.

The agreement focuses on a $12 million annual access fee in addition to an initial payment of $50 million. The 90-year agreement only includes the payment of the annual fee for the first 30 years. The system is designed to run hourly trains with additional service during peak rush-hour. The county will begin negotiating definitive documents with Brightline over the next 60 days and expects to make a decision on who will operate the system in the coming months.

The commuter rail system is expected to generate significant economic and environmental benefits while carrying nearly three million riders each year upon stabilization. Based on independent economic studies, the system is expected to generate $5 billion in economic impact over the first 10 years. This includes more than 23,500 jobs, $282 million in annual labor income, $5.5 million in annual revenue for Miami-Dade County and $7.2 million in annual revenue for Miami-Dade Public Schools.

Significant community support has been demonstrated throughout the approval process. Businesses, educational and cultural institutions, homeowners associations and sports teams realize the economic and quality of life value that will be delivered with this new commuter rail system.

“This is a tremendous milestone for Miami-Dade County and all the credit goes to the county commission and their vision to improve mobility in our community,” said Brightline president Patrick Goddard.

“A commuter rail system will take cars off the road and provide an environmentally friendly way to get around our region. In the short term, it will create jobs and rebuild our economy as we rebound from COVID,” Goddard added.

“For decades I have advocated for a commuter rail along the Northeast Corridor, mobilizing people while reducing vehicles on our congested roads,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman. “Today is an important day; thanks to my commission colleagues and Brightline, we are ‘on track’ and closer to making this project a reality.”

Albert Garcia, chair of the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) and chair of the Corridor Coalition, said, “The approval to move forward and implement commuter rail along the Northeast Corridor is the result of the grassroots efforts of over 50 businesses, community organizations and cultural institutions across Miami-Dade that collectively advocate for new mobility options such as this commuter rail initiative.

“Millions will benefit from the implementation of this public transit system and the economic growth it will generate. We remain committed to this project as it progresses and hope this service will soon expand to Broward.”

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