Today, the site of the MiamiCentral train station is a giant pit filled with concrete pilings and buzzing construction equipment just across from Miami-Dade County Hall on NW First Avenue. The nine-acre complex will eventually be the home station for the Brightline, the new Miami-to-Orlando passenger train service.
And it's now looking more likely than ever that the station will also house a connection to Tri-Rail, the regional South Florida train service that so far runs only west of I-95. A vote last month cleared the way for a downtown link for the
"The project is moving forward," Bonnie Arnold, a spokeswoman for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), tells New Times.
At its December 11 meeting, the Miami Herald reports, SFRTA approved a plan that would allow the state to build a rail spur linking the western Tri-Rail tracks to the new downtown MiamiCentral station. The plan still needs state Legislature approval.
But the news adds more details to a project that backers say will transform downtown Miami and change South Florida's transportation hub. The Brightline — which once went by the moniker All Aboard Florida — has already released numerous renderings of the exterior of the gleaming facility.
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Questions, though, remain about the new service. The company has yet to disclose how much it will cost to ride from Miami to Orlando, a key factor in whether the trip will be competitive versus air travel, especially because the Brightline's trains won't move fast enough to be considered high-speed rail.
But adding Tri-Rail to the downtown Miami package would ensure that an already successful train system with useful regional links is part of the new station.