Brightline Miami station rises, more relevant to PBC residents

Construction on All Aboard Florida’s massive rail complex in downtown Miami was barely visible last year through the screens that adorn the fence surrounding the six-block site.

Eight months later, the frame of the train complex and its elevated rail lines now tower over the fence below, standing 86 feet tall at its highest point. Work is well underway on three buildings that will sit on top of the station and rail lines, and a nearby office building and parking garage now stands seven stories tall.

It’s a station complex that exponentially grew in interest to residents of Palm Beach County after recent accords clearing the way for a Tri-Rail platform there. That link would make it possible for Tri-Rail riders in Palm Beach County to reach downtown Miami, and sites of interest like the Miami Heat’s stadium.

Today, the bases of the station’s five rail lines, which will stand roughly 50 feet in the air, are nearing completion. Officials with All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train service on Tuesday are expected to receive the first of the concrete beams that will eventually hold the elevated tracks.

In all, Brightline officials say work on the train station is nearly 40 percent complete. Construction on the core structures that will hold the site’s apartment buildings and office tower is also advancing rapidly.

Construction on the station site is set to be completed early next year, with the apartments and office space set for completion a few months later.

Brightline plans to begin service between downtown Miami and downtown West Palm Beach in mid-2017. The rail line plans to extend service to Orlando International Airport late next year.

Scott Sanders, All Aboard Florida’s Executive Vice President of Development and Construction, said the project is “unprecedented” in the City of Miami, largely because it is being built using a large amount of steel and glass, as opposed to concrete.

Roughly 7,000 tons of steel will be needed to complete the complex. So far, about 150 tons have been trucked to the site, Sanders said.

“Steel is starting to show up everyday and get lifted into place,” Sanders said.

Officials are installing car elevators in the complex to lift vehicle’s belonging to residents and office workers to the buildings’ elevated parking garages. Meanwhile, the station’s train tracks will sit on springs to help keep vibrations caused by the locomotives from entering the station and buildings.

This project “is extremely complicated,” Sanders said. “Everything about it is unique.”

The company is spending $3 billion to build the rail project and stations; and, in addition, is investing several hundred million dollars in real estate projects in Miami and West Palm Beach.

The Miami station is expected to become a transportation hub and shopping and entertainment destination for both tourists and locals. The site is located within walking distance of the AmericanAirlines Arena and a short shuttle ride from PortMiami, which processed more multi-day cruise passengers than any other port in the world in 2014.

A 50,000-square-foot marketplace, dubbed Central Fare, is planned at the complex. The marketplace will feature six restaurants and more than 20 food and retail businesses.

Two tenants set to anchor the development’s flagship office building have also been announced. Accounting giant Ernst & Young and Regus, a provider of flexible workplaces, are set to move into the station’s office tower, officials said.

Last month, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority approved a plan that will eventually allow Tri-Rail trains to carry passengers to Brightline’s station in downtown Miami.

Tri-Rail now runs between Palm Beach County and Miami International Airport. The downtown Miami Tri-Rail stop would give Palm Beach County residents easier access to the AmericanAirlines Arena, Port Miami and other businesses and shopping districts.

Of the roughly 50 daily Tri-Rail trains, about half are expected to travel to All Aboard’s Miami station, officials have said.

Meanwhile, work on the company’s trains and three other stations in West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando continues. Siemens is building Brightline’s locomotives and train cars at a facility in Sacramento, Calif.

In West Palm Beach, crews have installed all of the 40-foot and 70-foot V-shaped columns that will be dominant structural pieces at Brightline’s stations. Work also continues on the rail platform, concourse and lobby.

At the Ft. Lauderdale station, crews are working on the bridge that will link the station’s concourse and platforms.

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