South Florida Intercoastal

Advocacy Report

By: MIASF Staff

Date posted: Mar 30, 2021 Tue

Let’s talk about trains.  All last year we enjoyed a trip back in time before passenger trains began sharing the FEC tracks. There is a flurry of activity this month as the motions to restart the Brightline service have begun. They are currently installing and testing positive train control (PTC) on the entire line from Miami to Palm Beach. Therefore, you may have noticed flagmen at railroad crossings. PTC is technology designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents related to human error occur.

We had an opportunity to meet Brightline’s new general counsel, Cynthia Bergmann prior to our joint meeting with the US Coast Guard at the end of this month to discuss the test deviation, any concerns about the proposed rule and next steps. Brightline is anticipating returning to operation between Palm Beach and Miami in the 4th quarter of this year.

The process to create a new bridge or tunnel over the New River has multi-phases it goes through. We are currently in the Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study which is conducted to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. They have conducted the property assessment along the tracks and are now doing an in-person traffic study along the river, using the data from the MIASF New River Live Feed to verify and expand the information about river operations. Once these steps are complete, they will hold public meetings and it will be your opportunity to share your thoughts on the best option.

Local elected officials have had some exciting conversations with Elon Musk’s company, The Boring Company, which has a cost-effective way of tunneling. Leadership traveled to Las Vegas to see the work first-hand and then company executives traveled to South Florida to visit the project site including a view from the water courtesy of the Water Taxi. There were several other sites identified around town that a tunnel could relieve traffic congestion. The technology is fascinating but as far as the marine industry is concerned, bridge or tunnel, either one will solve the navigability of the river and keep our boatyards in business.

In Washington D.C., the ProAct 2021 has passed out of the House as predicted and is not expected to move quickly through the Senate. This is an issue of concern and is continually monitored.

Tallahassee is getting ready to wrap-up this legislative session. There are several bills with language to aid in the enforcement of derelict and abandon vessels, some defined anchoring dos and don’ts, an attempt to control water pollution by vessel discharge and a mandatory boater education bill.