Miami-Dade County

Downtown Miami Tri-Rail link in doubt after legislative inaction

Tri-Rail’s downtown Miami link looks like it’s on life-support after representatives of the commuter rail service failed to pass what they called crucial legislation in Tallahassee.

Officials with the public South Florida Regional Transportation Authority had hoped to get an amendment onto a transportation bill that would clarify who would be liable when a passenger train crashes on railway shared by public and private trains. But the bill passed without the amendment, which they had said was critical, since their link requires using the Florida East Coast Railway, a private line.

And they said it was imperative that the legislation pass this year, since Tri-Rail has planned to build a terminus into All Aboard’s MiamiCentral station, which is already under construction. Without theindemnification clarified, SFRTA authorities have feared the Florida Department of Transportation won’t commit the final $20 million they need to connect to downtown. That could mean All Aboard would back away from a Tri-Rail platform in its transit hub.

“We are deeply disappointed in the Legislature’s failure to act,” said Jack Stephens, executive director of the SFRTA. “In the next week, we will explore what options — if any — to bring Tri-Rail to downtown.”

If Tri-Rail’s bid to run trains into downtown dies — they’ve called piggybacking on All Aboard’s downtown station a one-time shot due to the high price of Miami real estate — it would be a blow to the politicians who pushed last year for $45 million in public funds to help pay for the project.