New Rail Plan Getting Marine Sector Input April 1, 2014
All Aboard Florida is getting guidance from MIASF and others on how to best coexist with recreational boat owners, the boatyards, marinas and related businesses that serve them. The goal of the proposed intercity passenger rail service is to give business and leisure passengers a convenient, environmentally conscious and cost-effective way to travel between South Florida and Central Florida, including through downtowns of Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, the Treasure Coast and Miami. The core issue from the marine perspective is management and timing of trains using the FEC and CSX bridges with resulting accessibility.
To ensure that the train does not derail the marine economic engine with 90,000 jobs paying $3 billion, MIASF has met to achieve a formalized approach with the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward Commissioners, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Marine Industry Association of Palm Beach and Rep. Lois Frankel to advance marine industry views, requested a county study in conjunction with a EDA grant to identify the impact of the additional bridge lifts, and with representatives of All Aboard to underscore the importance of open navigation and its relationship to the health of the marine industry. The goal in these efforts is to keep all of the affected groups – including the planners, government, transportation agencies and environmental entities – and media aware of marine industry views. Several regional broadcast and print media outlets have provided additional coverage gaining input of marine businesses and others illustrating their concerns.
The plan’s developer, Florida East Coast Industries, claims it would provide benefits including boosting tourism, reducing highway congestion, and job creation. It bases those results on data counting 50 million travelers between Miami and Orlando every year, virtually all of them by car, assuming they are seeking alternative ways to travel.