Miami Central Station Project Mistake Costing Taxpayers Millions - NBC 6 South Florida
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Miami Central Station Project Mistake Costing Taxpayers Millions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A mistake at the Miami Central Station is causing delays that are costing taxpayers millions. Dan Krauth investigates. (Published Friday, Feb. 13, 2015)

    It is a massive $155 million project called Miami Central Station, a development next to Miami International Airport that was supposed to have opened months ago.

    NBC 6 Investigators have uncovered details about why it has been delayed and why it is costing tax payers millions more than expected.

    The station is a place where trains, buses and shuttles will all meet under one gigantic roof in hopes of changing the way passengers travel.

    “It’s very thrilling," said Carl Filer, with the Florida Department of Transportation, or FDOT.

    State officials have been working for twenty years to make the futuristic design a reality.

    "We went back to the future," said Ric Katz, a spokesperson for the development.

    But a design flaw derailed the project.

    By now, trains were supposed to be using the newly installed tracks at the station connecting passengers from New York City to Miami. The route was the driving force behind the project.

    "It’s important for the tourism industry that we have that train come to Miami," said Katz.

    But the tracks still sit untouched. It turns out they built the Amtrak train platform too short by about 200 feet. That couple of hundred feet is costing tax payers a lot of money.

    That’s because FDOT officials decided to extend the platform but it blocked traffic so they had to tear it down.

    “The cost to undo that work was approximately $380,000,” said Filer.

    Three hundred and eighty thousand dollars of tax payer dollars.

    “I don’t even know what to say to that,” said frequent Amtrak passenger and Miami resident Kim Wieber. "All we’re doing is paying for their mistakes."

    Now crews have to build new roads around the complex they didn’t plan for. Since the platform is too short, Amtrak trains will extend into the road blocking Northwest 25th Street for up to 45 minutes at a time. The total price tag for all of the extras is $4 million.

    “Incredible and without a need,” said Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, who fought to keep the street open. "I’m very concerned, I continue to be."

    FDOT officials said Amtrak didn’t notify them about the design flaw until after they broke ground on the project in 2011.

    “Should we have known? Probably, but we’ve come up with a solution,” said Filer.

    A spokesperson for Amtrak in Washington D.C. didn’t answer any of the NBC 6 Investigators' questions. Instead, the spokesperson released the following statement:

    “Florida is an important market for Amtrak and is interested in serving the Miami International Airport Intermodal Center (MIC), a project led by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Amtrak is now awaiting final action on MIC ownership between FDOT and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority before being able to determine when our NYC to Miami trains will serve the station. The Amtrak Silver Meteor and Silver Star trains, which connect New York City and Miami four times a day, presently serve Miami."

    The FDOT Project leader promised the project will pay off for everyone down the line.

    “As the manager of the project, ultimately you know it would fall on us, I believe to maybe have done our homework a bit better and to have figured that out initially,” said Filer. "One penny is a lot of tax payer money and we certainly strive not to waste that."

    Half of the station is now scheduled to open this Spring but due to the new roads that now have to be built, the Amtrak station will not open until sometime in the summer of 2016.

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