Train Update July 15, 2014
With the opening of the Florida East Coast Railway’s Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) at Port Everglades July 14, company officials say it is expected to reduce congestion on interstate highways and local roadways because loading and offloading cargo will take place at the Port as opposed to offsite facilities. (This will be particularly apparent to those drivers using State Route 84 and Marina Mile as the marshalling yard on Andrews Avenue which regularly caused delays and will no longer be utilized.) As a result, they say air emissions will be reduced by diverting an estimated 180,000 trucks from the roads by the year 2027 and relief will be delivered to highway commuters.
That’s good news for people in cars, but the expansion also ties in to the increased runs of trains over bridges on waterways used by boaters and businesses on Florida’s East Coast. As MIASF Executive Director Phil Purcell recently explained to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, his concern is making sure the drawbridge is up – and the New River open to boat traffic – at least 40 minutes an hour. At last count, 14 daily freight trains cross that bridge, and that number is expected to rise, especially if and when the All Aboard Florida (AAF) passenger service begins.
All Aboard Florida President Michael Reininger has told media in many communities affected by the plan that millions of dollars will be spent to upgrade the bridges to improve efficiency and reliability. He says upgrades to the bridge would allow them to open and close more efficiently and possibly faster. New technology, he adds, will allow the company to schedule trains to pass each other on the bridge at the same time, often in tandem with freight trains already crossing the bridge. Also, All Aboard Florida has agreed to a full-time tender to operate the bridge, which is currently controlled remotely by dispatchers in Jacksonville.
MIASF will continue monitoring the plans and meet with all parties involved in the AAF proposal, advancing the marine industry’s issues and concerns and reporting to the industry on developments.