Port of Miami gets $22 million to restore rail freight service

By Andria M. Muniz….
The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that the Port of Miami is the recipient of a $22 million grant to restore and upgrade rail service between the port and the Florida East Coast Rail Yard in Hialeah, providing direct cargo access to the national rail system.

The grant has been awarded under the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary program (TIGER II).

“The investment in on-port rail has the potential to provide a significant boost to the South Florida economy,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. “The Port of Miami is the second largest economic engine in Miami- Dade County and supports more than 176,000 jobs throughout the state — this project will enable the port to increase its cargo capacity delivering a powerful punch to the local economy.”

TIGER grants are part of the national economic stimulus program. The Port of Miami’s TIGER II application was among the nearly 1,000 submitted throughout the nation with applications from every state.

“This is tremendous news,” said Port of Miami director Bill Johnson. “The Port of Miami’s award is one of only a handful of successful applications nationwide. The federal investment in our port recognizes Miami’s expanding role in international trade and the potential for greatly increasing our cargo business in coming years.”

Johnson said the rail project is one of three major infrastructure projects critical to the port’s future success. “The tunnel project is already underway. Now, the restoration of rail service to our port is officially a go,” Johnson said. “The third component is deepening our waters to 50 feet to accommodate the new generation of cargo vessels — our focus will now be securing the federal funding to make what we call the ‘Deep Dredge’ a reality. These three projects position the Port of Miami to become an even greater player in the global marketplace.”

The TIGER grants are awarded on a competitive basis to projects that improve national, regional or metropolitan transportation facilities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase energy efficiency. The Port of Miami’s application was made in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida East Coast Railway.

Rail service linking the port with the Hialeah yard was suspended in 2005 following damage to the rail bridge to the port during Hurricane Wilma. Restoration of service is part of a comprehensive strategic plan that also includes a new highway tunnel under Biscayne Bay to the port and the dredging project to deepen the port harbor from the current 42 feet to 50 feet for the next generation of cargo vessels that will traverse an expanded Panama Canal beginning in 2014.

“The Port of Miami wants to thank members of the U.S. Congressional delegation for their support,” Johnson said.

For additional information, visit the Port of Miami website at www.miamidade. gov/portofmiami.

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