The Port of Miami is the 17th largest port by volume in the United States and is an important contributor to the local south Florida and state economies. The port handles 7.4 tons of cargo and over 906,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) annually. It is expected that this number will increase after the Panama Canal reopens, as cargo ships will be able to bypass the Port of Los Angeles for a more direct route to the East Coast. To address this potential surge in the need to transport freight through the Miami-Dade Metropolitan area the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway in conjunction with the City and Port of Miami has formed a partnership to expand intermodal rail transportation to a location outside of the congested central city. Currently both the Port of Miami and Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale to the north, are completely dependent on trucks to transport containers to three regional distribution centers.
In order shift away from transferring cargo to trucks for transportation away from the ports, the FEC Railway needed to expand rail capacity from the Port of Miami. They pursued grants from the US federal government to reconnect the port to the Hialeah Intermodal Rail Yard in Hialeah, Florida. The connection to FEC’s existing facility in Hialeah will also provide direct cargo access from the port to the national rail system. Rebuilding this connection will cost more than $49 million. This project also includes the construction of a new intermodal transfer facility at Port Everglades. This new intermodal facility will allow for the direct transfer of containers between ships and rail, rather than relying on trucks to carry them 2 miles to the nearby Andrews Avenue Railway Depot before they can be loaded onto trains. In total, the new intermodal center will cost about $73 million, with costs shared between Port Everglades, the FEC Railway, and the state.
In total, FEC is predicting that these changes will divert almost 180,000 truck trips off of the road over by 2027. If at least 100 containers are shifted from truck to rail each day, the emissions reductions are predicted to be over 63%, reducing CO2 output by 1,796,747.