Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Tri-County Commuter Rail)

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Tri-County Commuter Rail

Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, Florida

(November 1996)


The Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority (Tri-Rail) operates a 70-mile commuter rail system connecting Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida. Tri-Rail has been adding service and new stations to meet increasing demand for the service. The line is carrying about 8,000 riders per day.

Tri-Rail's 5-year capital improvement program (1996-2000) includes the addition of a second mainline track on part of the line, rehabilitation of the signal system, station improvements and parking expansion. The capital program is estimated to cost $428.3 million.


The construction of Phase I of the double tracking/signal rehabilitation project began in the Spring of 1995 and has an estimated completion date of April 1997.

State monies funded the design for Phase II (scheduled for completion in February 1997) and Phase III (complete). Phase II includes three stations, and Phase III includes two stations. Environmental requirements have been satisfied with categorical exclusions.

There is no ISTEA authorization for Tri-Rail improvements. Through FY 1997, Congress has appropriated $43.31 million in Section 5309 New Start funds for Tri-Rail improvements. These funds are being used for station improvements, bridge rehabilitation, and double tracking. It is anticipated that an application for a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) providing commitment of additional Section 5309 New Start funds will be submitted in Spring 1997.


Mobility Improvements - Double tracking and signal rehabilitation will enable the establishment of 20-to-30 minute commuter rail headways, compared with one hour headways today, and will enhance the safety of the rail operation. Originally designed for the exclusive use of freight operations, the signaling system along the CSX corridor was installed more than 50 years ago and has long been outdated, particularly in light of increased traffic and the diversified nature of the rail corridor usage today. As a result of the antiquated signaling system, Tri-Rail is required to reduce its speed at some locations from 70 mph to 20 mph. This affects the overall running time, and is a safety concern with the increased rail traffic along the busy corridor. Service reliability would improve dramatically with the installation of modern signal equipment.

Cost Effectiveness - A cost effectiveness index is not available.

Operating Efficiencies - Current operating cost per passenger is $8.65.

Environmental Benefits - Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach have been redesignated as an attainment/maintenance area.


Tri-Rail is proposing a Section 5309 New Start funding share of $206.4 million or 48 percent. The remaining funds would be derived from the Section 5307 formula program and the State of Florida.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding ($million)
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $206.40 ($43.31 million appropriated through FY 1997)
Federal: Section 5307 Formula $39.50
State: $182.40
Total: $428.30

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions.