The roles and responsibilities of the project partners are defined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was adopted in May 2013. The MOU stems from a Southeast Florida Transportation Council (SEFTC) effort that identified the need for an improved process and collaboration to move the project forward. The general framework and content of the MOU was established in November 2012 as part of a grant funded multi-agency transportation workshop in Minneapolis, MN.
Per the MOU, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will oversee the project during its next phase, called Project Development. (The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), will lead the development of a project Finance Plan during this time.) Project Development is anticipated to begin in early 2014 and last for a maximum of two years. After the Project Development phase is completed, SFRTA will be the lead agency responsible for the design, construction, operations and financing of the Tri-Rail Coastal Link.
As part of the MOU, key committees were created to guide the project through implementation. These committees meet regularly, and their meetings are open to the public. They are:
South Florida's Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) will play a critical role during all phases of the project. For each new federally funded transportation project, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requires that the MPOs approve the type of service and the location of the new service. This is called the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). Additionally, the MPOs decide how each county spends its transportation funds in a document called the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which they approve every five years. The LPA for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link service will need to be approved by the MPOs. The Tri-Rail Coastal Link service will also need to be included in the LRTP.
Florida East Coast Industries has initiated planning for All Aboard Florida, a proposed intercity passenger rail service along the Florida East Coast tracks stopping in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. This effort is being led by the private sector, and their team has closely collaborated with the Tri-Rail Coastal Link Project Partners. While complimentary, this project is different from the local passenger commuter rail service that will be provided by the Tri-Rail Coastal Link and has far fewer stops.
The Tri-Rail Coastal Link will be new passenger rail service along 85 miles of the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway that will be fully integrated with the existing Tri-Rail service. The project will result in an expanded Tri-Rail system that will connect the traditional downtowns and redevelopment areas of numerous communities between Miami and Jupiter. Currently, there are up to 28 new Tri-Rail Coastal Link stations being considered, with new or rebuilt rail connections between the FEC and CSX rail corridors proposed in Miami, Pompano Beach, and West Palm Beach. While phasing is being considered, the intent of the project is to provide regional service in all three counties. Projected System Map.
New cab cars have been arriving at the SFRTA rail yard in Hialeah. The first of the new locomotives arrived there in August, 2013.
A formal development process is being followed, which will allow for the project to be implemented within 5-7 years. In the meantime, the Tri-Rail Coastal Link project team is working with public and private sector partners to find ways to begin service even earlier.
Project Development is the next step in the process. It is anticipated that the request to enter into project development will be submitted to the FTA in early 2014. According to Federal regulations, Project Development is to be completed within two years.
The anticipated benefits from Tri-Rail Coastal Link service are numerous. A fully integrated service will create new employment opportunities (short term construction jobs and long term employment), furthers economic sustainability, increases municipal tax base, implements long awaited passenger rail service on the FEC Railway, and increases mobility choices for employees, residents, and visitors. In a snapshot, the Tri-Rail Coastal Link service will provide:Economic Benefits:
Local communities have taken numerous steps over the years to prepare for future Tri-Rail Coastal Link service. Many communities have adopted supportive land use and redevelopment plans. Some communities with community redevelopment areas (CRAs) and downtown development authorities (DDAs) have already worked with local landowners on a variety of strategies to support both redevelopment and parking in support of future Tri-Rail Coastal Link service.
SFRTA is well prepared for the new Tri-Rail Coastal Link train service.
Please visit the quiet zone section of our website for a full discussion of regional efforts to reduce the noise impact created by the new service.