MIAMI May 28 Local officials and railway
executives unveiled plans on Wednesday for a sprawling 3
million-square-foot Miami train station complex including an
80-story skyscraper, to anchor the state's first privately owned
intercity railway and help redevelop the downtown area.
Officials from All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Fortress
Investment Group, liken the Miami station to such
well-known city landmarks as New York City's Grand Central
Terminal and San Francisco's Bay Bridge, and say they expect to
break ground in the coming months with a target completion date
sometime in 2016.
The 235-mile rail link, with a total budget of $2.5 billion,
will run from Miami to Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale
and Palm Beach, taking about three hours and traveling at speeds
of up to 110 mph (177 kph). Ticket prices have yet to be
The ground floor of the 11.2-acre downtown site will be
filled with shops and restaurants, sliced by a 50-foot-high
platform and topped with four high rise buildings, including an
Executives hope the complex will spur nearby development,
especially in blighted, low-income areas near downtown Miami
that have yet to attract the kind of investment taking place
near the city's center.
"This will be a land bridge that connects the courthouse
district to the emerging arts district," Roger Duffy, a partner
with station architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, said during
a press conference Wednesday.
The service will be geared mainly toward business travelers
and tourists looking to move up and down Florida's east coast.
Railways were a critical part of south Florida's development
in the early 20th century. In the late 19th century
industrialist and Standard Oil co-founder Henry Flagler, whose
name is found commonly throughout the area, ran a line from
Jacksonville on the Florida-Georgia border to Key West, building
hotels for northern tourists along the way.
Amtrak, the government-owned national rail corporation,
currently offers a twice-daily service between Miami and Orlando
taking five to seven hours.
(Editing by David Adams and David Gregorio)