All Aboard the Rebirth of Flagler’s Railroad

 

“It’s Coming Down This Week!” read the newspaper headlines in 1963. The City of Miami decided that the downtown Miami Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) station needed to be demolished. Continuing labor strikes had disrupted passenger service for years. Locomotives were also an ongoing issue for Miami motorists because of congestion caused by the trains in the downtown vicinity. In late September of 1963, the wrecking ball descended upon Miami’s FEC railroad station and demolished the rail terminal.

Today, a private transportation company named Florida East Coast Industries, also known as All Aboard Florida (AAF), aims to resurrect the former downtown Flagler Railway close to where it was originally built, with train service between Miami and Orlando several times a day. AAF plans to operate along portions of the 195 miles of original FEC tracks. New train terminals will be built in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando International Airport. Nicknamed “Miami’s Grand Central Station,” the Miami terminal will be erected across nine acres of land, near the former Miami Arena site. A proposed mega-complex adjacent to the station will connect to a major hotel chain, a  conference center, and will be anchored by upscale shopping and dining venues. 

Some Florida politicians support the new terminal. These lawmakers foresee the creation of thousands of new jobs and a travel industry that could potentially bring billions of dollars to South Florida. But All Aboard Florida is not welcomed by all. Critics argue that the new train terminal will only bring more noise and congestion to the already overcrowded area of downtown Miami.

 

-Ursa Gil

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