Hoping to attract cargo traffic from an expanded Panama Canal in 2014, the Port of Miami is taking steps to refurbish a dormant 4.4-mile rail corridor linking the port with the Hialeah Intermodal Railyard, operated by the Florida East Coast Railroad.

The Port, FECR and the Florida Dept. of Transportation are collaborating on the $46.9-million project, which is still contingent on receiving a $28-million so-called TIGER grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

If approved, the two-year project would restore a one-track rail link that has been out of service for several years, due in part to a storm-damaged 1960s-era bascule bridge connecting the Port of Miami-owned Dodge Island with downtown Miami. Further, the project would include track rehabilitation on Dodge Island and upgraded signals for at-grade crossings.

Along with providing a faster cargo link to the Hialeah railyard, the Port of Miami estimates that a restored rail link would eliminate 250 heavy-truck trips between the port and warehouses near Miami International Airport, which is located at the south end of the railyard.

The rail restoration project will complement other access improvement projects under way at the Port of Miami, including a $610-million tunnel and harbor-dredging plan that will accommodate larger cargo vessels.