There is no complete solution to gridlock; only alternatives. Those alternatives require getting people out of cars and into alternative modes of transit. Without question, the most important alternative is rail — both local and regional commuter rail.
For a relatively small investment and in a short period of time, Tri-Rail, the regional commuter rail system, can be brought directly into the heart of downtown Miami, the state's largest employment center, the region's greatest activity center, and now home to over 80,000 residents (and growing). But we have to act now.
There is a proposal to link Tri-Rail to downtown via an already funded connection south of the 79th Street Tri-Rail station to the FEC line and into downtown Miami. To accommodate the additional Tri-Rail trains, the All Aboard Florida's (AAF) station platform in Downtown Miami will need to be expanded.
AAF’s main station will truly be Miami's Grand Central Station, with inter-city passenger rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando with direct connections to Metrorail, Metromover and bus service. This will enable commuters from as far as Palm Beach County to get to their jobs in the Downtown/Brickell area using Tri-Rail and Metromover.
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Similarly, many regional residents attending events at the AAA or Arsht Center, or visiting Museum Park and Downtown's burgeoning retail, restaurant and entertainment sectors, will have an alternative to using their cars, a historic and now growing trend in major American cities.
The Southeast Overtown Park West (SEOPW) neighborhood will be the biggest beneficiary, sitting astride and connected to the heart of the region's transportation system, just as Grand Central Station created the Midtown Manhattan office market.
A modest commitment of public dollars, about $48 million from the Citizens Transportation Trust, SEOPW CRA, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County, is required to fund the improvements to make this a reality. This is precisely what public agencies should be spending their money on: improving transit to relieve congestion and promote neighborhood revitalization, economic opportunity and regional connectivity.
In 2008, when I was on the board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail), we included what is now the proposed link between the Tri-Rail corridor and downtown in the Strategic Regional Transit Plan.
In 2009, the Downtown Development Authority Master Plan specifically included linking downtown to the existing Tri-Rail line. The planning has been done. Now is the time, and the opportunity, for action.
Neisen Kasdin, managing partner, Akerman LLP, Miami
Editor’s note: Neisen Kasdin's law firm has performed legal work for AAF, but not with respect to the Tri-Rail project.