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Firm to study passenger rail prospects

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Firm to study passenger rail prospects

Reducing the highways' traffic will be the focus

Planning, design and construction management firm Gannett Fleming has been tapped to study the pros-pects of passenger rail on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

Carrying commuters in addition to freight on the FEC tracks from Miami to Jupiter could help solve South Florida's crippling traffic woes, said Scott Seeburger, special project manager for the Florida Department of Transportation.

"For many people I have been talking to, that has been the excitement of this project," he said. "There is a lot of interest in the FEC."

Rapid bus systems and extending Tri-Rail to Jupiter will be considered in the study, expected to cost at least $6 million and be paid for with federal transportation dollars allocated to Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Seeburger said.

Over the next two years, the study will focus on reducing traffic along the region's congested highways.

By 2020, South Florida's population could swell with the addition of 1.8 million people, according to a report from Florida Atlantic University's Catanese Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, bringing more than 1.2 million extra automobiles.

Many municipalities are looking at alternatives to move people.

In downtown Fort Lauderdale, there's talk of trolleys, Seeburger noted. Miami's streetcar proposal has gained momentum. Wilton Manors envisions a rail and bus transit just across the tracks from the $110 million, 10-acre Wilton Station residential project on Northeast 26th Street.

If a contract with Gannett Fleming is executed by December, a consulting team of about 20 can begin work as early as in January, Seeburger said.

Gannett Fleming was selected Nov. 15 over finalists Parsons Brinckerhoff and Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan.

Camp Hill, Pa.-based Gannett Fleming has offices in Miami. Its Web site lists transportation projects including consulting on a monorail in Las Vegas and the SkyTrain in Vancouver.

E-mail Miami-Dade real estate/international business writer Susan Stabley at [email protected]

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It's good to hear some news about the FEC corridor. It makes sense, because the FEC runs through all the urban areas in the Tri-County area. I wonder if Tri-Rail's ridership will take a hit with another set of tracks competing.

I also think that Tri-Rail should be extended up through the ever-growing Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter. It's good to see that Palm Beach and Broward are actually trying to implement more transit, since they're way behind Miami-Dade's standards.

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Yes, it's good to see that most everybody is in on this and that we're acting as a region. I think traffic has gotten to that point. Even the most conservative are looking towards mass transit to solve the problem.

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