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.
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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.
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.