FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – It’s a big day for the Florida East Coast Railway and Port Everglades.

On Monday, they officially opened their new state-of-the-art railroad transfer station at Port Everglades.

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The 43-acre Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) will allow the FEC to increase its capacity from 100,000 to 450,000 lifts a year because the new near-dock facility will improve the transfer of both domestic and international containers between ships and rail. Before the opening of the facility, containers had to be hauled out of the port to the Andrews Avenue rail yard in Fort Lauderdale or to Hialeah rail yard in Miami-Dade County.

Another important aspect of the ICTF is that the FEC will now be able to build 9,000-foot unit trains without blocking any city streets.

Port Everglades Director Steven Cernak told CBS4’s Natalia Zea that will mean much smoother traffic flow for drivers near the port.
“You could be stuck up to half an hour just waiting for the trains to be put together. These trains are now going to be put together here now at Port Everglades.”

The new facility will allow facilitate faster delivery times. Cargo will be able to move through Port Everglades to/from Atlanta, Charlotte in two days, and Nashville and Memphis in three days. FEC’s connections to Class 1 railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern allow for rail service to 70 percent of the U.S. population within four days.

FEC CEO James Hertwig says rail is the most environmentally friendly methods of cargo transport. He says their trains can travel 400 miles, carrying 1 ton of cargo on just 1 gallon of gas.

“It’s the most fuel efficient way of transportation out there, environmentally friendly and doesn’t congest highways.”

So who paid for this new state of the art facility? We all did.

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FEC secured state grants and loans for the project and the County gave the railway the 43-acre parcel of land worth 19-million dollars at Port Everglades for free.

Click Here to watch Natalia Zea’s report.

The ICTF is just one piece of Port Everglades’ large expansion plan which includes construction projects to allow for smoother traffic flow and the improvement of infrastructure on the water side.

Cernak said the expanded port will also expand the number of short and long term jobs into the thousands.

“It will ultimately create more jobs, create more economic benefit,” said Cernak.

Cernak added transporting cargo by rail is environmentally friendly – trains carrying one ton of cargo can go 400 miles on a gallon of gas.

Port Everglades is the 3rd largest cruise port in the world and the 11th largest container port in America.

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