More and more people are talking about upgrading rail access to the port as a low cost ($30 million) alternative to the billion dollar Port Tunnel. Rail traffic would be able to cross Biscayne on the FEC tracks with little impact to traffic by efficiently coordinating traffic lights with freight schedules.  Check out this MPO Study. Kudos to Commissioner Joe Martinez for pushing this alternative to the Port Tunnel. The beauty of this proposal is that it  can be coordinated with the plan to use the FEC tracks for passenger rail. That project is currently in the planning phase, and is about 5 years away.

Now that the Port Tunnel is fading away, lets use that money for the East/West Orange line (connecting FIU-MIA-Orange Bowl-the Port)!

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11 Responses to Port Tunnel RIP?

  1. Tony Garcia says:

    Thanks

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  2. Juan Felipe says:

    YES! This is what I’ve been saying for so long! There is NO need for the port tunnel when a much cheaper, more environmentally friendly, more practical way is possible using rails that ALREADY exist (just having to be refurbished). This would also ease congestion in the whole port area/downtown area if it is accompanied by an intermodal facility further inland which could probably provide MORE jobs (long-term, not just construction jobs) than the port tunnel ever would.

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  3. Vicki says:

    The Port Tunnel is not fading away. To the contrary, there was a commercial close in June and all parties are working toward a financial close by October 1st.

    Tunnel alternatives are being discussed as though no other options have been explored. Port Access alternatives have been studied for decades. In fact, it was the full and complete analysis of the rail alternative that led to the tunnel solution. Using rail as a stand alone shuttling system for cargo has never been shown to make cost sense.

    Sincerely,

    Vicki Mallette
    Communications Director
    Miami-Dade County

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  4. TM says:

    Question? What do you do when 5 westbound lanes from Watson Island (including new tunnel lanes) on I-395 flow into 2 lanes at Biscayne Boulevard? Sounds like a traffic jam to me. And the cost of creating the new I-395 project will be at least an additional half a billion. If rail is really going to be used they need to replace the bridge to the port with a fixed bridge and overpass Biscayne Boulevard and the downtown streets. It would cost a lot less than 1.5 billion!

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  5. Anyoneofus says:

    A lot of trucks go to the port everyday. If trains were going there, the trains would have to be small loads, then you would need to have more trains coming into the port. The line connecting to the port runs east and west, blocking traffic of people and vehicles north and south bound.
    I have a feeling both the port tunnel and the FEC line will happen.

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  6. M says:

    If you guys read the document attached from the 2007 MPO study, you’ll see the rail alternative was estimated at over $1 billion, not including any upgrades to the Hialeah Rail Yard. Do you really think the people who move and receive the product want it to be handled at least 3 more times (off boat at port, taken to storage yard on port, loaded on train in storage yard, unloaded from train to storage yard in Hialeah, loaded on to truck at Hialeah storage yard. Every time someone has to handle that cargo, the cost of shipping goes up significantly. The rail idea adds 3 levels of mostly unionized workforce to the process. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$4

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  7. Tony Garcia says:

    M and Vicky,

    The MPO report automatically assumes that the Port Tunnel is a given. I don’t see how a goodfaith study of the subject could happen when the document starts off by saying that the Port Tunnel is the preferred alternative. Additionally, the report is not an economic feasibility study. It makes it very clear that this it is a conceptual feasibility study, not economic or environmental.

    The mention of cost of construction at ‘over 1 billion’ is less than the Port Tunnel cost projections (not taking into account the added expeses that M describes – which I think are valid concerns).
    The initial infrastructure cost is less, however, when shared and coordinated with a mass transit project that connects FEC to the port – a project mentioned many times in the MPO study. These two projects are not separate, and if taken together make more sense for the amount of money being spent.

    As to the added cost of transferring cargo many times, how much will these added costs matter once gas rises again? As other commentators have pointed out, the study does not make any assumptions as to the future price of oil, which is an important consideration in calculating the TRUE cost of the Port Tunnel.
    As recently as a year ago, when oil prices were $4-5/gallon, trucking companies across the country were brought to the brink of economic insolvency, a phenomena widely documented in the media. What good is the port tunnel going to be when this happens again?

    I know that the Port needs a better way of moving trucks past Downtown, both for the success of downtown and the future economic success of the port, but we need to be more intelligent with the dollars we spend.

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  8. Mike Lydon says:

    Even if the costs were equal, which Tony explains that they most likely are not, the largely unquantifiable quality of life to be gained from a rail-based solution is immense.

    The Port Tunnel is just a nightmare waiting to happen, and one that quite frankly, shows little foresight for how goods will be moved in the future.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I agree that (if it ever were to get build) the port tunnel looks to be a financial disaster waiting to happen. Especially with the information we have currently about potential oil pricing rebound (as soon as this recession ends). And of what we already know it does to both trucking transportations feasibility and efficiency.

    I think it would be much wiser to spend that money on a rail tunnel. However, if they ever decide to go this route, they really should take the opportunity to spend a little more to figure out how to attach the metrorail line around Overtown station to this tunnel to give Metrorail access to the port also. Metrorail is finally getting a badly needed connection to the airport, wouldn’t it be wise to extend this to the seaport also. And for so long what a shame it’s been that it comes so geographically close but fails to reach the Port of Miami to capitalize on all those tourist cruise ship pasengers that want to get to the PoM from the airport in the most efficient manner.

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  10. Tony Garcia says:

    Last Anon: Yes! I think given the existing rail connection it would probably be the FEC line, and not Metrorail, but providing mass transit to the port should be seen as essential to the long term survival of the passenger Port, especially considering the competition from Port Everglades.

    If I am a passenger going on a cruise and I have to choose between a trip leaving out of Port Everglades where I have to spend $50-70 on a cab ride (roundtrip from FLL) or simply paying $2.00 for a train ticket (from MIA), which do you think makes more sense? Plus you could develop the huge tracks of land that are currently used as parking.

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