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

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

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  by Noel Weaver
 
carajul wrote:I was just in Miami this week and was cuirious about this line. Was rusted solid black, but was in good shape. The xings were in great shape. The overhead xing signal bridges had 4 heads on them and look new. The track goes around the American Airlines sports arena and there was a game going on. Miami cop and security cars were parked on the tracks.

Using google maps it looks as though the port area is now for tourist ships...not an industrial port any longer and no need for rail service. The tracks fade into the grass toward the end.
This line is called the "Downtown Lead" and it is still in service although rarely used. It is in decent shape. The port still
handles freight and containers but the containers are trucked to Hialeah Yard for loading on rail cars.
Noel Weaver
  by carajul
 
Here is a photo of the Port of Miami
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Port_ ... lorida.jpg

With all that container traffic, why is the spur line thru downtown to the Port defunct? From what I understand containers are trucked to the FEC yard in Hialeah. Seems it would be good to get all that truck traffic out of downtown. Of course double track trains blocking the roads probably wouldn't be so great either. Just seems odd such a busy port with no rail service.
  by Noel Weaver
 
There is no yard there to make up a long container train and not enough space to collect the containers either. It is not that
difficult to run the containers by highway to Hialeah where there is plent of room for the containers and plenty of tracks to
make up trains. In addition the bridge to the Port of Miami is not in use at the present time and would need some work in order to make it available.
Even at Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) the containers are moved to the yard for loading on the rail cars. It is easier here too although in this case there is considerable trackage around the port. It is only about a mile if that from Port Everglades
to the FEC Fort Lauderdale Yard.
Noel Weaver
  by johnpbarlow
 
I flew out of Miami on Feb 4 and could see from the plane that the Port of Miami was devoid of ships and containers. It didn't look much like the picture above. But perhaps the port was awaiting new ship arrivals.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
While not for one moment do I wish to discount the economic value of the Port of Miami to the region it serves, these "stats" suggest that the Port is not even in the "top ten" for value of goods handled. Here are "stats" provided by the Port itself.

While one does "not exactly' go popping around Dodge Island nowadays without a reason for so doing ("just wanna look' doesn't cut it any more), it would appear from, both as i recall it when you could "pop around' and sailing from there as well, I have to wonder where there would be room to marshal the containers to be loaded aboard an eighty or so car train. Such a train would cause considerable interference with the Port's "bread and butter' business - and that means UENI off for a week on a Love Tub.

While the highway transshipment of containers to the FEC's facilities at Hialeah certainly represents an inefficiency, it would appear to be making the best of a bad situation. All-rail would certainly make the Port more competitive, both with handling times and costs. But with my albeit rudimentary "lay of the land', I cannot foresee such
  by riffian
 
The Port of Miami acts as a distribution point for the Caribbean Basin and Central America. As such, many (most?) containers never even leave the port but are simply transloaded from a vessel in "Liner" service to the small feeder vessels which serve the myriad island ports of the Carribean. Check the number of Seaboard and Crowley Maritime containers handled to realize the importance of this trade.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Riffian, if I understand your posting correctly, this means that a vessel from Asia loaded with consumer electronic "playthings' will dock at the Port, and from there the containers will be transloaded to smaller vessels that will forward the 'playthings'to, say, Jamaica, Antigua, Monserrat, etc. The containers will not even clear US Customs as they are in transit. This business model certainly lessens the need for any overland transportation, be it rail or highway, in relation to the value of shipments handled.

Finally, while it wasn't yesterday I was there, there is a jointly owned FEC/SAL line into Port Everglades. The line parallels FL 84, Broward Blvd, but I can never recall any massive amount of activity there. This would suggest to me that containers are handled by highway to the FEC Hialeah facility.
  by Noel Weaver
 
Two things here, most Crowley containers are handled to and from Fort Lauderdale. For every one to Hialeah there are
probably ten or more to and from Fort Lauderdale. They are trademarks on 224 and 123 and on 107 you can always tell the
Fort Lauderdale drop on the rear end with the Crowley containers.
Second, Port Everglades is only served by and connected to the Florida East Coast. The old connection to the Seaboard
CSX was torn up when I-595 was built many years ago. The tracks still go into Port Everglades and I suspect they are still
active although how active at this time, I am not sure. There is so much security around the dam place that I don't dare
try to go in to look around at the tracks. I was in there a few months ago and at that time there were cars in there.
Noel Weaver
  by carajul
 
As far as the spur into the Port of Miami...
Thru downtown it is in good shape. Once it goes past the American Airlines arena it is basically tracks burried in grass/mud. It crosses the drawbridge and then it is actually well ballasted good track again. Once it goes into the port it is tracks in blacktop but there are trucks, car, containers parked all over the rails. So I guess it's well known that this spur is OOS. The tracks are rusted so black I don't think anything has moved over them in decades.

AS FAR AS SECURITY...
I sorta got into a jam. I followed the track into the port. Once you go in, you can't get out! There is a gaurd gate across the whole road. Well, I had to explain myself to one of the gaurds. Then a few customs/border/homeland security officers complete with automatic firearms asked me tons of questions, took photos of my car, made me go thru the x-ray machine the trucks go thru, asked me a million more questions. Then I got to turn around and do 100mph back to Miami.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
While not related to rail operations, Mr. Carajul's escapade reminds me of a pastime many a Miami local as well as a snowbird or two (myself and deceased girlfriend), had was to "hang out' on the MacArthur Causeway near Chalk Airlines terminal and watch the cruise ships "get outta Dodge', or otherwise sail.

Well that was then, but a little thing known as 9/11 has come in between that pastime; there were even park benches on which to sit.

Now there is am M-16 toting Guardsman and friendly canine, Zodiacs from one law enforcement agency or the other are constantly pratroling the channel, and the onlookers are long gone.

Of course cruislines no longer tout 'We are all in favor of the seafaring tradition of Bon Vogage parties....'
  by carajul
 
I'm just curious as to why the spur into the port was put in in the first place if they don't use it due to the items listed? I mean those 5 head xing gates cost over $200,000 to install. And there are 4 of them in downtown. Not to mention the cost of a drawbridge.
  by NellieBly
 
I suspect there was more rail activity in the port years ago, when "breakbulk" rather than container freight dominated. FEC's "downtown spur", which I hi-railed two years ago (work related, very official) was once the FEC main to downtown Miami. It's all 10 MPH and unsignaled now, but once was much faster. FEC's Buenavista Yard (now being redeveloped as condos) was only 20 blocks or so north of downtown. There was also a full wye at Little River, where the FEC spur to Hialeah Yard turns west. The south leg remains, although the turnouts have been pulled. it was once double-track.

Improving rail access to the port would require something like building a tunnel -- very expensive. And the Port of Miami, stuck on Dodge Island and surrounded by water, has no place to grow.

As part of a transportation study of southeast Florida, I visited the port of Miami, Port Everglades, and the Port of Palm Beach in 2006. Port Everglades has rail into the port (although the connection to the former SAL is gone, as noted above), and Andrews Ave. container yard is less than a mile from the port. The Port of Palm Beach has an "on dock" rail yard right in the port. Both ports have room to grow. Port Everglades is by far the largest, but the Port of Palm Beach (which is where FEC's car float to Havana used to dock in the 1950s) is growing as well. FEC originates three intermodal trains a day at Andrews, and one from the Port of Palm Beach (which is actually in Riviera Beach).

Bottom line for all Florida ports is that they're out on a peninsula, and so will only ever serve local traffic. Containers headed to SE US locations go through Savannah these days, where they're a whole lot closer to major markets. Problem with Florida is that you go 300 miles north from Port Everglades, and...you're still in Florida.
  by FL9711
 
Does anyone have any updates on the FEC Miami port line. When was the last train on it, and are there future plans for it.

Thanks
  by M3LTDOWN
 
There is another thread on this topic with more information. Last time I remember seeing a train cross the bay was definetly a few years ago.

The bridge is out of service at the moment, however it's repair is specified as part of the Federal stimulus package. I'm unsure if work has commenced or what the situation is...
  by carajul
 
I did some exploring of the branch that went to the Port of Miami today. The line west of the Rt 1 crossing (near the AA Arena) isn't in the greatest of shape. The ballast is gone and the tracks are just sitting in the grass. The tracks are rusted black and must not have seen the turn of a wheel in ages. In some areas there are fence gates closed over the row. Around the AA sports arena busses, storage containers, and other security vehicles are parked on the tracks. The crossing signals over Rt1 are in good shape and boy are they large... 5 signals overhead plus on the side and gates and signs. As you go west of Rt 1 the residential streets are all well guarded with overhead crossing signals; although trees are growing over them. This line was also signaled at one time; there are signal mast bases along the tracks.

At the intersection of NW 1st St & NW 12th Ave there appears to have been a yard. Two tracks go off the main and down the middle of NW 11th St. Although the tracks are paved over you can still see them poking thru. There are ancient crossing signs that protected these two tracks that read "look out for the cars". Does anyone know what this street running spur was?

I'd love to go exploring this line more, but the neighborhood to the west of the Rt 1 xing is *extremely* bad. There were gang bangers and drug dealers everywhere. I actually was quite nervous and ended up going the wrong way down a one way street to get to Rt 1. I didn't even stop at the red lights; just coasted thru slowly. The line was also double and triple track at one time.

You can do a google street view of this area to follow the line. Even see what type of neighborhood it is! Based on the xing protection this line must have been very busy at one times. Those xing signals cost $100k at least and to see them all sitting there rotting away seems a waste.
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