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Wheels Come Off The Track For New Train Station Construction

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(Photo Credit: AP)

(Photo Credit: AP)

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David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A mistake in planning train platforms at the new Miami International Airport transportation hub could lead to big delays and a heftier price tag.

The $88 million project could now cost millions more. The reason: One of the tracks that will serve Amtrak is about 100 feet too short.

In his first days on the job Carl Filer first learned of what would become a real mess.

“At the groundbreaking is the first time I heard their was some concerns from Amtrak,” Filer said.

Filer who works for Florida’s Department of Transportation has been overseeing the massive project to connect Amtrak, Tri-Rail, and Metrorail to Miami International Airport.

The Miami Intermodal Center, called the MIC, is scheduled to open next year. All was going well until in passing Filer says someone from Amtrak said they were planning to use a longer train than designed.

“The platform design as it is is 1030 feet. The Silver Meteor train is 1065 feet,” he explained.

That’s 35 feet short, plus they need about 50 to 60 feet buffer space.

When asked what happened Filer said, “I think it’s a communication issue. We wouldn’t have started this project if it was known that was a condition.”

FDOT now in a bind, came up a quick fix: Permanently shutting down 25th street which borders the complex and then extend the track. Cement was poured and tracks were brought in.

But, the move angered local businesses who used the roadway.

“You hope that you always get it right but sometimes you don’t; And in this case we don’t,” Filer explained. “You could say now it’s two mistakes.”

FDOT has since returned to the drawing board. Among them Filer pointed out, “We looked a tunnel option that would take the roadway under the crossing. We looked at an overpass option which would take the roadway over Metrorail.”

There are 13 options in total ranging from $6 million to $30 million plus. Whatever FDOT decides they will have to foot the bill, despite Amtrak adding the cars and not telling the engineers about it.

Filer responded, “The way these projects have worked is the sponsoring, the host agency pays for the capital cost.”

CBS4 reached out to Amtrak Friday for comment, but they did not respond.

Filer said he’s leaning towards the $6 million dollar option, which will reopen 25th street. The plan would extend the railway through what’s called a headhouse.

The plan in part would likely cut off pedestrian traffic within the facility, creating longer walks. But Filer is attracted to because it cost the least amount.

“The cheapest option is where we are just taking track three and extending it to the south,” Filer said.

The Florida Department of Transportation will have to make a decision in the next 30 days. What they decide could delay the opening of the station beyond 2014 into 2015.

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