FEC Miami Port Line - Downtown Spur

Discussion relating to the FEC operations, past and present. Includes Brightline. Official web site can be found here: FECRWY.COM.

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Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

I had a very nice tour of the Downtown Lead as well as the Port of Miami Drawbridge yesterday (Saturday, September 24th). Believe me when I say this railroad is GOING PLACES. The trackwork is well underway with much of the old track completely torn up and new track also in place starting south to north. 136 Pound rail, concrete ties, new crossing protection, completely restored drawbridge and much, much more will result in a thoroughly modern rail route to the Port of Miami. A big increase in container traffic is expect at both Miami and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and the Florida East Coast fully intends to be involved in handling this increase in traffic. Work on the county owned railroad drawbridge to the Port of Miami will be handled by the Florida East Coast and is expected to begin later this fall. Much work will need to take place in order to use this bridge but rest assurred that this work will be done. Even yesterday they had three or four gangs working on the track downtown. I liked what I saw yesterday and heard last night from high officials on the FEC as well. A great day and great time too.
Noel Weaver

Sir Ray
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Sir Ray »

Noel Weaver wrote:Work on the county owned railroad drawbridge to the Port of Miami will be handled by the Florida East Coast and is expected to begin later this fall. Much work will need to take place in order to use this bridge but rest assurred that this work will be done.
Is this the bridge in question? Also, is the paralleling road/bridge to the immediate south of the RR closed to thru traffic?

What's funny is I traced the route from downtown to the Port via Bing, and it actually looks in pretty decent shape (since Bing views are usually a year or more old, this is before any track rehabilition has taken place) - there are active lines in New Jersey that look much worse than this OOS FEC branch...

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

Sir Ray wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote:Work on the county owned railroad drawbridge to the Port of Miami will be handled by the Florida East Coast and is expected to begin later this fall. Much work will need to take place in order to use this bridge but rest assurred that this work will be done.
Is this the bridge in question? Also, is the paralleling road/bridge to the immediate south of the RR closed to thru traffic?

What's funny is I traced the route from downtown to the Port via Bing, and it actually looks in pretty decent shape (since Bing views are usually a year or more old, this is before any track rehabilition has taken place) - there are active lines in New Jersey that look much worse than this OOS FEC branch...
The railroad bridge is the center bridge in the picture. The highway bridge (raised in the picture) has not been used since the newer bridge was completed some years ago. The track on either side of the railroad bridge has not been worked on as yet. They put in concrete ties and maybe newer rail as well when the line was moved somewhat with the construction of the newer bridge and the new AA Arena, I am not sure exactly what will be done here. The entire line is to be rebuilt but maybe this little section has already been done. The work has begun and is in progress from a point just NW of Biscayne Boulevard. The next time you visit this location I think it will look a lot different than in the past. It is a big and interesting project. I believe they will begin work on the bridge in about a month or so.
Noel Weaver

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

Tuesday, December 6th in the morning I got down to have a good look at the work being done on the "Port Lead". What I saw was most of the line has new and heavy welded rail maybe 136 pound rail, new concrete ties, most of the crossings have been totally rebuilt, electric switches and signals are to be installed at Little River where this line joins the mainline. What remains to be done: some of the crossings are not connected as the old rail and ties are still in place so the crossings will have to be closed for a couple of days to tear up and put in the new ties and rail, a lot of the crossing signals have not been installed yet, the work on the bridge to the port has to be done, I don't think it has been started as yet and the rock ballast has not been laid down as yet. In the case of the ballast, they will probably try to get the crossings rebuilt and all the rail connected and after they have done that they will be able to run a ballast train down there and drop ballast. It is going to be a while longer but the end result will be well worth the wait and the effort.
There are some other moves underway to increase business on this line, things are interesting in this part of Florida.
Noel Weaver

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

Noel Weaver wrote:There are some other moves underway to increase business on this line, things are interesting in this part of Florida.
Mr. Weaver raises an interesting point that has not yet been addressed in our discussion.

Is there potential for industrial development in addition to the Port along this line that would use rail transportation?

Hopefully, if I "come on down' next year (or "down below" as my nautical Father always referred to Florida), Mr. Weaver will be able to give a guided tour. Mr. JasW, might you be game as well?

Finally, as I recall, when I first sailed on a "Love Tub" from Dodge during 1981, the older bridge was "it"; but alas "Love Tubs" were part of a past life (a now deceased girl friend simply "loved them"; I was of the "take 'em or leave 'em" state of mind).

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

Let me know when you are coming. This winter it will just be construction but by next winter (2013) it will be trains, I am pretty sure of that.
Noel Weaver

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

From Marriott Miami Biscayne Bay--

This trip to Miami for a Cleveland Orchestra performance last evening has altered my views regarding the need for a rail extension to the Port if the Port seeks a role during the 21st century other than a Love Tub port of entry.

My first realization was last night driving into Downtown Miami during rush hour when rhese "Container Cowboys" were exiting off I-95 to Biscayne Blvd - which is where I had to exit to get to this hotel. They were not too "cooperative" with anyone who like myself who did not know, even with the help of Sat Nav (GPS), where to go.

This morning, I took a walk by the FEC tracks abnd noted the work in progress. I also walked over the causeway to the Love Tub docks and I saw seveal of these "cowboys" doing power dives from the crest to Biscayne Blvd.

During a phone call with Mr. Weaver this morning, he reported to me that the FEC intends to run full length trains direct from the Port. I had thought that they would operate "transfers" of maybe ten cars from the Port to Hileah yard which is on the West side of the Airport. What is of concern to me is how receptive will the powers be to a, say, 60 car train of containers tying up Downtown. To get these cowboys off the road is one thing, but tying up main arteries for an extended period of time while a long train passes is something else.

Thoughts, Messrs, JasW and Weaver?
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

NellieBly
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by NellieBly »

Mr. Norman,

USDOT partially funded this work from last year's TIGER money. I reviewed the application, and as I recall the plan was to operate shuttle trains (no more than two round trips or so a day) from the port to Hialeah. There is no room on Dodge Island for a large container facility with tracks of sufficient length to assemble a long container train (say, 20 to 30 five-unit articulated wells).

Separately, the port and the state are funding a highway tunnel to Dodge Island that will take those "container cowboys" off local streets in downtown Miami. I think that's overkill, but they didn't ask USDOT for money for that.

Separately, the US Army Corps of Engineers will be deepening Government Cut to 50 feet so larger container ships can call at Miami. The port has visions of great growth resulting from the enlarged Panama Canal -- but then, Henry Flagler justified his Overseas Extension to Key West with projections of traffic moving through the then-new Panama Canal (the railroad opened in 1912, the canal in 1914, and AFAIK Key West was never much of a port except for passenger steamers to Havana).

Some dreams die hard. But the improvements are authorized, and they will be made. I think the rehab of the rail line, at least, to Dodge Island is a good idea.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

From Holiday Inn Express The Villages, FL--

Ms. Bly, what you have immediately outlined was always my understanding; that there would transfer runs "outta Dodge" to Hialeah where there is of course room to assemble a 60-70 car train. Additionally, I have difficulty believing that whoever has jurisdiction over that waterway (Coast Guard; Corps of Engineers??) would allow it to be tied up with extended lowering of the bridge. Possibly Mr. Weaver has sources suggesting that full trains would be run from Dodge - and there is also the possibility I misunderstood what he was saying (oh and Noel, after looking at a Google map up here where the computer is free rather than the $.40/min back at Marriott, I could have found Andrews Diner - looks like it gets good reviews; oh well, next time).

Finally, here is related discussion regarding the new Panama Canal, East and West Coast maritime ports, and the railroad industry:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 36&t=62168

JasW
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by JasW »

GBN, my belated thoughts are that the focus has been on the tunnel being built between the MacArthur Causeway and Dodge Island as a means of getting the "container cowboys" off of the roads downtown. But note that when I say "downtown," I mean that stretch of NE 2nd Avenue north of NE 6th Street, because they venture no further south than that. I'm sure you noted that this stretch of NE 2nd Avenue has suddenly become lined over the past 3-4 years with huge condo towers, which have their back doors (and garage entrances) on NE 2nd Avenue. My understanding is that the wealthy developers behind these projects lobbied hard to get the tunnel built so that residents would not have to do battle with the trucks. (Of course, this just puts all of the truck traffic on the MacArthur, and Miami Beach residents will not realize that they are the ones having to do battle with these cowboys until the tunnel is open for business.)

In any event, the port lead has, unfortunately, been an afterthought in all of this. I don't think that the 2 a day shuttle trains are going to raise any eyebrows when the gates come down on Biscayne Blvd. Even if it were 6 or 8 a day, I think the inconvenience would be highly modest. Far more inconvenient for downtown drivers are the bridges (particularly the Brickell Ave. bridge) going up over the Miami River. People can wait a minute or so for a shuttle train to pass.

JasW
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by JasW »

Confirmed in today's Miami Herald that the FEC is starting freight service on the port lead later this year:
Freight-train system to start after Heat play

By Alfonso Chardy

A new $22-million Port of Miami rail track for freight trains is nearly ready after nine months of construction, according to Florida East Coast Railway (FEC).

Husein Cumber, an FEC spokesman, told El Nuevo Herald during a recent tour of the project that the first train will run later this year, likely in the fourth quarter and well after basketball season ends at AmericanAirlines Arena, located next to the track at the seaport entrance.

“We will let the Miami Heat win their championship and will start after that,” said Cumber, jokingly.

FEC executives have been in close contact with arena and City of Miami officials so that the new service will have the least impact on downtown activity, mainly in the vicinity of the rail crossing next to the arena.

Cumber said there will be no train service before or after events in the arena to avoid further tying up traffic. Traffic congestion on roads around the arena increases significantly before and after events.

Initially the service would feature one train – one leaving the port with cargo and one coming back empty, said Cumber.

. . .

Trains will move at about 30 miles per hour and generally clear an intersection in roughly 90 seconds.

“We’re talking about a train that will go through the crossings in a typical traffic-light cycle,” said Cumber.

The 4.2-mile track runs from the port to a point near Northeast 79th Street where it connects with existing FEC tracks to Jacksonville and the Hialeah Railyard.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/13/2 ... start.html
If anyone is wonder why Heat games factor into this, the tracks literally cut directly through the SW corner of the plaza in front the AA Arena, less than a hundred feet from the steps to the arena itself.

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Re: FEC Miami Port Line - Downtown Spur

Post by Jeff Smith »

I saw that article as well. Is this a brand new line, or is this a rebuild of the old line? I couldn't tell from some of the previous posts.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: FEC Miami Port Line - Downtown Spur

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

Rebuild of a pre-existing line. At one time, such was the access to the FEC station within sight of the conspicuous County Courthouse.

Noel Weaver
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Re: FEC Miami Port Line - Downtown Spur

Post by Noel Weaver »

As I understand it at present the interlocking work at Little River is finished and was cut in this past weekend. The work on the line between Little River (junction with the present route) and the bridge is essentially finished. Work is taking place on the bridge and work will commence very soon if not already on the island (Stock Island, home of the port). I think the end of the year is probably reasonable IF no delays take place. The Florida East Coast is pretty good at finishing work on target and they are doing much of the work in house on this big job. Exciting things are happening here in South Florida.
Noel Weaver

Sir Ray
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Re: FEC Miami Port Line - Downtown Spur

Post by Sir Ray »

Noel Weaver wrote:on the island (Stock Island, home of the port).
In reviewing the links on the preceding pages, I was unable to find a plan of the actual port/yard trackage.

I may have just missed it, but is there one around?

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