Mr. Jose Gonzalez, Flagler Development Group, commented on their vision for the rail yard property located adjacent to Miami International Airport (MIA) and their recent collaboration with the Port of Miami and MIA to market that property in the industry. He noted, at the present time, their primary focus was on the Port of Miami component due to their immediate need. He introduced Mr. Eric Swanson, Executive Vice President, Flagler Development Group, who gave a Powerpoint Presentation that highlighted Miami’s need to maintain itself as a gateway to Latin America.
During the presentation, Mr. Swanson commented on the importance of connections between air, sea, rail, and trucks and Miami’s need to improve those connections in order to maintain their position as the gateway to Latin America. He noted, upon completion of the Panama Canal expansion in 2014, larger vessels would enter the Port and greatly increase the number of containers being moved through there, resulting in more businesses and jobs for Miami and South Florida.
Mr. Swanson further noted the preparations at the Port to facilitate larger vessels would consist of dredging to fifty feet and improving the existing rail connection, at a cost of approximately $47 million, of which $22,767,000 would be paid for by a Federal grant applied for by the Port of Miami and the FEC Railway. The remaining costs would be shared by the Port of Miami and the FEC Railroad.
Following the video presentation, Chairman Diaz asked that each Commissioner be provided with a copy for their review.
In response to an inquiry by Commissioner Sosa regarding what district or districts the rail yard property was located, Mr. Gonzalez stated the southern portion of the property was located in District 2 and the northern part was located in District 12.
Commissioner Sosa asked that updates on the project be provided to the Committee and requested a clear delineation on the location of the rail yard.
Commissioner Souto suggested commissioners meet with the directors of the Airport and Seaport to discuss promoting more business and tourism at those locations.
Chairman Diaz concurred with Commissioner Souto and expressed the importance of maintaining competitiveness at the Port of Miami.
Commissioner Sosa stressed the need to clarify funding sources for any project in the County and the importance of those funds being handled conservatively to ensure property owners would not bear the burden.
A discussion ensued regarding implementation of the project within the next two years and the possibility of using quieter trains to transport the cargo containers. It was noted that a study of 19 intersections would be conducted to determine how a quiet zone could be created, what time of day the trains would run, and what impact the trains would have on the traffic flow, since each train would be approximately 3700 feet long and travel at a speed of 30 miles per hour, resulting in the intersections being blocked for about 95 seconds.
Commissioner Souto asked that he be provided with a complete traffic study to ensure the aforementioned issues were addressed.
Airport and Seaport Committee
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