About the Project


About the Project

On January 28, 2021, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Four, and Broward County signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the Broward Commuter Rail (BCR) Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study. The objective of this PD&E study is to evaluate a regional rail transit system on the shared-use FEC railroad corridor from Aventura in Miami-Dade County to Deerfield Beach in Broward County (approximately 27 miles) to expand existing passenger rail service, relieve I‐95 congestion, improve connectivity and transportation choices, foster economic development, and promote sustainable land use through transit‐oriented development (TOD). FDOT is the technical lead on the PD&E study, while Broward County is taking the lead on financial planning, related agreements, and coordination with local governments and others.

FAQs

What is the Broward Commuter Rail Project?

Commuter rail plays an important role within the County’s overall strategy for improving transportation and mobility at the local and regional level. The Broward Commuter Rail Project is a commuter rail system like Tri-Rail and SunRail that would operate on the FEC railroad corridor.  It will provide commuter rail access to the densely populated coastal municipalities in Broward County and Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade is advancing the Northeast Corridor commuter rail project on the FEC corridor.  Compared to the Brightline intercity passenger rail service, commuter rail service has more frequent stops with two-to-five-mile station spacing. Commuter rail lends itself to shorter trips, facilitates commuting, shopping and recreation. The project will connect to the planned premium east-west transit corridors on Broward Boulevard and throughout Broward County.

Who will ride the Broward Commuter Rail?

Broward Commuter Rail will offer an easy-to-use, recognizable, and visible transit service that will accommodate existing transit riders and attract new transit users including commuters for trips to work, shopping, and recreation in the tri-county area and trips made via connecting transit services such as Tri-Rail, Northeast Corridor, future east-west transit, express and local bus service. It will serve intercity passenger rail travelers arriving in Fort Lauderdale and traveling to cities and stations along the FEC corridor in Broward County or Miami-Dade County as well as Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport. 

Will this new commuter rail system compete with Tri-Rail? 

Based on previous analysis, Tri-Rail and Broward Commuter Rail have different ridership markets. 

Who approves the project and how much say does the public have on the final decision? 

Ultimately, the Broward County Commission will be responsible for approving the outcome of the study, which results in a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA).  The LPA will also require a vote by the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to advance the project.  The PD&E Study will provide several opportunities for public input and comments including several virtual and in person public meetings as well as a Public Hearing in 2022.  Small group meetings and individual stakeholder meetings will be held with nearby neighborhoods, homeowner associations, civic organizations, public officials and other stakeholders throughout the study. Public involvement and engagement are encouraged throughout the entire study.

What are the potential benefits of Commuter Rail?

Commuter rail has many important benefits: economic and residential growth, maintaining quality of life, transit incentives to the public, environmental benefits, and benefits to employers. Economic and residential growth will include TOD and mixed land uses to support the increase in residential and business development. Commuter rail helps to enhance quality of life by increasing mobility and transportation choices, greater convenience and safety, and providing greater access to employment, education and essential services. Transit incentives to the public include reducing travel times and automobile dependence as well as saving money on gas, parking, car maintenance and overall stress of traffic. Commuter rail also provides cleaner air by reducing traffic congestion and less wear and tear on our highways. Finally employers can see potential cost savings on subsidized parking, access to a wider pool of talent, and dependable and reliable transit service which in turn enhances productivity.

Which station locations are being studied, and has a decision been reached on the locations?

Criteria for determining the station areas are developed using Federal Transit Administration evaluation standards along with real estate factors for TOD established by the Urban Land Institute. This includes considerations of station spacing, rail operations, travel time, existing and future land use, population and employment, supportive TOD policies and land development regulations. While a greater number of station candidates were identified in the planning phase, these have been refined to six station locations, based on the criteria. These station areas are Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Oakland Park/Wilton Manors, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport/Dania Beach, and Hollywood/Hallandale Beach. Final selection of the station locations will be made by the Broward County Board of Commissioners and the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

Will South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) or Brightline operate this project?

The designated operator has not yet been identified. The County will evaluate this in conjunction with Miami-Dade County prior to making a joint decision, since the same operator would need to serve both counties.

What is the duration of the PD&E Study?

The PD&E study is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2022. Over the next several months, FDOT will continue to perform the engineering and environmental analyses and continue public involvement to evaluate viable alternatives within the project limits. These viable alternatives will be presented at future Alternatives Public Workshops and at a Public Hearing next summer.

How much will Broward Commuter Rail cost and how will it be paid for? 

The capital cost estimate for Broward Commuter Rail will be developed during the PD&E study. The project funding assumes federal, state and local participation in the capital cost and private or in-kind contributions at the passenger stations. During the course of the PD&E study, the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs will also be estimated. Potential O&M funding sources could include local taxes, sponsorship, advertising, retail opportunities and the revenue from fares.

How will the New River Crossing be analyzed in the study?

Broward Commuter Rail is evaluating four alternatives to provide a new crossing of the New River. The New River crossing alternatives include:

  • 25-ft low-level bascule bridge
  • 56-ft mid-level bascule bridge
  • 80-ft high-level fixed bridge
  • Tunnel underneath the New River 

The study will identify an LPA with a new crossing that meets the needs of navigation, rail and transit (Brightline and BCR), and the community. Further technical evaluation and stakeholder coordination will include United States Coast Guard, FTA and other stakeholders. All four BCR alternatives will share tracks with Brightline. Determination of the benefits, impacts, mitigation approaches and costs are in progress. The study process builds consensus for the LPA through public input and support of critical stakeholders prior to federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) administrative action.

Will Broward Commuter Rail be built all at once or phased in? 

Potential phasing will be addressed in the PD&E study.  Items such as cost, ridership, and logical termini, as well as available funding will be considered in the evaluation. 

How can I obtain more information about the project?

The website is updated with the latest information and exhibits presented to the public. Project newsletters will also be developed. If you would like to obtain additional project information you can contact FDOT’s Project Manager, Phil Schwab, by phone at (954) 777-4524 or by email at phil.schwab@dot.state.fl.us or the Consultant Project Manager, Mike Ciscar, by phone at (954) 777-0044 or by email at mciscar@corradino.com.