Officials of South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the Tri-Rail commuter rail system, learned from a Dec. 2 consultant’s report that its trains are too wide to use platforms at the newly built, $70-million station in Miami, which was constructed as a public-private partnership by Miami Dade County and the Brightline intercity rail system. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the station is a centerpiece of a 1.9-million-sq-ft downtown mixed-use complex built by general contractor Suffolk Construction Co.
Railroad Consultants, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., engineering and construction firm, found that areas of the platform exceed design plans and specifications by several inches in several locations, a discrepancy that will cause the structure to clip steps extending from the trains’ exit doors. Resolving the problem, the report said, will require the platform to undergo concrete and rebar modifications. Alternatively, Tri-Rail could modify the railcars’ profile.
Railroad Consultants suggested that the viaduct linking the tracks to the elevated station may be unable to support the trains’ weight, as Brightline’s multiplier for calculating train loads differed from that required by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. The consultant recommended conducting tests to assess the structure’s weight-bearing capacity.
Brightline has yet to publicly comment on the findings, or the authority’s assertion that the problems are the result of construction errors.
Originally scheduled to begin operations in 2017, the 9-mile, $70-million southern extension of Tri-Rail to downtown Miami has encountered numerous delays. The most recent delay resulted from Brightline’s 20-month, pandemic-induced shutdown and the company’s implementation of positive train control technology at the station, which opened in 2018 and provides separate platforms for Brightline and Tri-Rail trains.