A Florida East Coast freight train runs through the middle of downtown West Palm Beach. South Florida's urban core developed around the FEC tracks. Now two projects hope to run passengers along the line for the first time in almost 50 years.
I-95 misery has bent Henry Flagler's railroad tracks full circle.
Long ago, passenger trains on lines Flagler built turned a community called Fort Dallas, pop. 300, into Miami. Then cars on I-95 turned Miami into the Miami metropolitan area, driving a stake into Flagler passenger trains along the way. Now, in a historic swing of the pendulum, that same highway system may be resurrecting Flagler passenger service.
The city of Miami's Metromover system shuttles riders around the downtown and Brickell areas. County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro is advocating for extending the Metromover over the MacArthur rather than building a new light-rail system.
If we were to create a fictional story based this week's top five stories, it might go something like this:
Traffic engineers use funds from parking meters to build the Orlando-Miami rail line. The colorful yellow meters do not actually pay the city for parking and were supposed to fund Florida’s desalination facilities. One outraged citizen got a hold of public-radio host Ira Glass, who is now producing a radio story for “This Floridian Life.”
Alas, none of those are stories. Here are the non-fiction versions:
Once again, Miami-Dade County is studying whether a light-rail train from mainland Miami to the beach would actually work.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the county’s metropolitan planning organization think it could be a solution to the traffic problems of South Beach. If traffic gets worse, Gimenez has said it will “kill the tourism industry.”
Two years after Gov. Rick Scott rejected a federal proposal for high-speed rail in Florida, a privately funded project for an express line connecting Orlando and Miami is just one deal away from beginning construction.
All Aboard Florida, a private company based in Coral Gables, has plans to build a line that would connect Orlando to Miami in just under three hours. It would also make stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Over the weekend, public transit advocates in Miami built a temporary train station along an imaginary transit line. They called it the Purple Line, sticking with the theme of Miami’s other two commuter rail lines, the Orange and the Green. Organizers of the project say this mock train station is going to help improve public transit in the city.