Marine Industry Impact Understated in Rail Proposal November 13, 2014
The measure of the marine industry’s economic impact in Broward and the Tri-County area needs to be corrected before the All Aboard Florida (AAF) rail expansion plan can be seriously considered. This is the message MIASF recently expressed to the Sun Sentinel newspaper Editorial Board. As the response deadline to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Draft Economic Impact Study (DEIS) approaches on December 3, the misleading figures have been called out.
Here are the real impact numbers: the marine industry generates $8.8 Billion in economic output resulting in 110,000 jobs in Broward County alone; estimates provided by AAF (which encompasses 8 counties) suggest its future economic impact will be $796 million. It is important to note that the core of the marine industry is service and its customers (vessels) are global and mobile. The economic base/output figures reported in the DEIS were flawed and misleading regarding the marine industry. The methodology used significantly underestimated the Broward County marine industry’s direct economic activity. The proposal of running 52 trains on a daily basis (32 AAF and 20 freight), potentially reduces access to marine businesses and residences up river of the New River bridge 50% of each hour. This is unacceptable.
MIASF’s goal has been to find a workable solution for the rail expansion without impairing the marine industry backbone of Broward’s economy. To date, there have been numerous meetings, both public and private, with the leadership of AAF and the MIASF requesting the bridge over the New River (and others affected) to be open 40 minutes each hour throughout each day. In addition elected officials have been asked to look at the long term capacity of the Florida East Coast (FEC) rail corridor so that solutions can be put forward to not only resolve any potential harm of the proposed 52 trains, but be inclusive of any future addition to the corridor regarding coastal link or tri-rail.
South Florida is the third largest metropolitan area east of the Mississippi River after Chicago and New York. The lack of long term planning for transportation needs of the communities that line the FEC corridor should not come at the expense of an irreplaceable economic driver — The Marine Industry — nor should it come at the expense of the lifestyle of citizens who have invested lives and monies in greater Fort Lauderdale. Solutions exist to coexist with AAF utilizing improved/upgraded bridges, raised platforms, etc. MIASF will continue to work towards a solution “that does the marine industry no harm.”
For additional details or to respond to the DEIS, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0672.