How Tri-Rail expansion was almost derailed

A two-part SFBW series about rail mass transit earlier this year talked about how Tri-Rail was poised to expand service to downtown Miami via a new interchange in Hialeah.

However, Executive Director Jack Stephens of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, parent of Tri-Rail, had to do some rapid maneuvering after the Legislature failed to pass an insurance indemnification measure to cover accidents for the new service. Without that, the whole deal involving the SFRTA, All Aboard Florida and Florida Department of Transportation was ready to fly apart. Without the legislative action, Tri-Rail couldn’t get FDOT state funding for the new link.

A deal passed by the SFRTA board in April will replace $20.2 million in state funding – $16.2 million in rail infrastructure, $3 million for a safety system and $1 million for access to the tracks. Stephens was poised after the board meeting to start looking for a lender to provide the money, most likely a commercial bank loan.

There could be several options to further address the indemnification issue before the start of the downtown service, which would be in the last quarter of 2018 at the earliest, Stephens said. That could include another attempt at getting legislation passed.

The Tri-Rail service shouldn’t be confused with the privately owned Brightline high-speed service from downtown Miami to Orlando International Airport, which will use the Florida East Coast Railway tracks and have stops in downtown Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Tri-Rail wants to split its existing service along the railway next to I-95, with some trains still going to Miami International Airport while others would head to downtown Miami, using the same station Brightline will. Ultimately, Tri-Rail would like to have a Coastal Link service along the FEC, with many more stops than Brightline.

Meanwhile, a new headquarters for the SFRTA will be finished Aug. 3 at the Tri-Rail stop near Sample Road in Pompano Beach. The building will be the first LEED Silver certified station and have solar panels on the roof.

Click here to see the first part of the SFBW series and click here to see the second part.


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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.