Here is later reporting appearing in the Miami Herald
with regards to this development.
Fair Use quotation:
Despite lingering questions about funding, Tri-Rail trains are expected to begin operating between downtown Miami and Palm Beach County by 2017, the commuter rail service’s chief said Wednesday.
“It’s going to happen,” said Jack Stephens, executive director of Broward-based South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, SFRTA. “We’re looking at having it operational in the first or second quarter of 2017.”
The authority is still seeking a large chunk of the funding for the project from the Florida Department of Transportation. But Stephens’ statements, in interviews with el Nuevo Herald, the Miami Herald and at a Beacon Council transportation conference in Miami on Wednesday, marked the first concrete indication that the Tri-Rail plan to bring its passenger trains to downtown Miami will be a reality. Previously, Stephens had spoken about the plan optimistically, but made it clear that the service had not secured total funding to implement it.
The service, which is expected to increase Tri-Rail ridership by 2,000 passengers, is significant because it will provide the first commuter rail link to downtown Miami from Palm Beach and Broward counties. A large number of employees who work in downtown Miami government and private offices live in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
There is no question whatever that if Tri Rail were to serve Downtown Miami at a facility located at "First and First", its ridership would be enhanced. That location is well situated to serve Miami's Commercial/Financial district known as Brickell.
Presently 'First and First" is "a bit seedy", but I'm certain that development (notwithstanding my skepticism regarding AAF as envisioned) of the FEC property, after being used for little else than a parking lot for the past fifty years, will "clean up the neighborhood" and attract commerce beyond the present judiciary and its attendant businesses (Necesita la libertad bajo fianza , llame El Bailer), From having "been there seen that", in order for there to be this physical interchange between the SAL and FEC, there would have to be a connection through the NE quadrant of the existing diamond named Iris. I don't foresee much in the way of "valuable" real estate would be displaced.
Now FEC may have valid objections to any such proposal if post-PANAMAX, the Port of Miami sees their volume increase the many-fold that some big money has placed their bets upon. FEC will need all the track capacity they have to handle anticipated traffic between the Port and their Hialeah facility located to the West of the Airport (KMIA). They could well be confronted with NIMBY issues if traffic to the Port "takes off", but I'm certain that if FEC has "NIMBY chips" to play, they'd sooner cash 'em in for something that will make them some $$$ rather than as an accommodation to a publicly funded transit agency.
Now where the real hue and cry will come is when someone starts to ask the legitimate question of "why was public money spent for Tri Rail access to the Intermodal Center at the Airport?". Both the MIC and a Downtown station cannot, reasonably and practicably, be served.
Finally to Amtrak: "just stay put"; after all, are you really anything more than some two bit player in the Miami transportation market?