MIAMI — Miami-Dade County officials are attempting to revive a long-dormant proposal for commuter rail service west and south of downtown using existing CSX Transportation tracks, the Miami Herald reports.
The western line would run from Miami International Airport — the current terminus of Tri-Rail service north to West Palm Beach — to the Doral area, paralleling State Route 826, a toll road also known as the Dolphin Expressway. Another line would use CSX tracks roughly parallel to U.S. Route 1 from the airport to Homestead, Fla., about 25 miles to the southwest.
No agreements or price estimates exist for either plan, the Herald reports. CSX executives are slated to hold their first meeting with county officials next month.
The Doral-area service would replace a proposed Bus Rapid Transit line that was identified as the preferred transit alternative in 2020, but is now all but dead because of logistical challenges in getting passengers from ground-level parking to the elevated expressway.
Previous explorations of commuter rail use of the lines have been shot down because of the price CSX sought for the tracks. But the railroad is now willing to consider the same sort of use fee that Brightline is seeking for commuter service on its route between downtown Miami and Aventura [see “Digest: Miami-Dade seeks federal funding …,” Trains News Wire, April 7, 2021], according to Miami-Dade Commissioner Kionne McGhee.
Brightline also has a connection to the new proposal. Jose Gonzales, senior vice president, corporate development, of parent company Florida East Coast Industries, is working with CSX to try to negotiate a deal with Miami-Dade. He told a meeting of the county’s Transportation Planning Organization that an agreement could bring more profit from increased use of its tracks, while Brightline would be involved in developing real estate around the new commuter rail stations.