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Making Progress on FDOT’s Miami Intermodal Center

Tue March 23, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Next to the Miami International Airport (MIA), a major project is coming together under the sponsorship of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) is a huge transportation hub scheduled for full completion in 2012. The cost is estimated at $1.7 billion.

According to FDOT’s Web site, “The MIC will provide connectivity where none existed, between the transportation systems in the Palm Beaches, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Florida Keys, for residents and visitors. It will also decongest the roadways in and around the busy airport. The MIC will be similar to New York’s Grand Central Station and other multimodal facilities that can be found in many world-class cities, offering easy connections to several forms of transportation.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has designated the MIC as a “Major Project.” The program consists of major roadway improvements which were completed in May 2008; a rental car center (RCC), which is scheduled for completion in May 2010; an MIA Mover, or automated people mover system, which is set to be operational in September 2011; the Miami Central Station, which is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2012; and a joint development component, which is currently being explored.


Planning for the project began in 1989 when Miami-Dade County accepted the Miami International Airport Area Transportation Study, which recommended the implementation of a multimodal transportation access facility.

“It was conceived as the means to link passenger rail [both heavy and light] and public and private bus service, thereby providing needed regional connectivity and improving access to MIA,” FDOT reported.

A record of decision granting location and design concept approval for the MIC was awarded by USDOT on May 5, 1998.


The MIC Program is financially balanced each year under FDOT’s Five-Year Work Program. Its designation by the federal government as both a project of national significance and a major project (due to its $1.7 billion price tag) made the MIC Program eligible to apply for and receive two loans under the Transportation Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (TIFIA), which was included in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA21).

Other major funding sources include various state and local sources and private sector fees and charges.

The first TIFIA loan for $269 million closed on June 9, 2000. Of that amount, only $15 million was withdrawn since FDOT replaced it with a more competitive internal loan through the State Transportation Trust Fund (STTF).

On July 3, 2006, FDOT prepaid the first loan in the amount of $17.1 million including interest, 24 years ahead of the originally scheduled maturity date.

The second TIFIA loan for $270 million closed on April 29, 2007.

Rental Car Center

The RCC is the first major component of the overall MIC Program, and is nearly complete. It was headed by Turner Construction

“Planned as part of the MIC gateway to greater Miami, the RCC will allow safe and seamless travel for visitors to the South Florida region,” FDOT noted.

Each of the four levels is 20 acres in size, and the first three floors are dedicated to storage and maintenance operations. The fourth level will hold a customer service lobby where vehicle renters may enter and view their options in a “virtual rental car shopping mall.” All current rental car companies operating inside MIA and many located near the airport will relocate into the RCC. Each company will have its own sales counter.

According to FDOT, the RCC will provide a safe and easy way to rent cars, decongesting MIA’s curbside by 30 percent and also reducing pollution at the airport’s core.

Designed and built by FDOT, the RCC will be maintained and operated by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) upon completion.

“Serving as a gateway to Greater Miami, it will include many notable features for South Florida’s visitors, such as distinctive architecture, enhanced safety and security, and the first multilevel fueling system in the United States,” FDOT said. “This innovative system required careful consideration of technical and life safety challenges, and will permit a more efficient and economical car turnaround cycle for rental car companies.”

The RCC will cover 3.4 million sq. ft., with each of four levels eight square city blocks. It will include space for 16 rental car companies and 6,500 cars. There will be ready/return car areas and a fleet storage/staging area. In addition, a quick turnaround area for washing and refueling will include 120 fuel positions and 42 wash bays.

Once the RCC opens to the public, a consolidated shuttle service will run between the terminals at MIA, transporting South Florida visitors who are renting vehicles to the RCC or back to MIA. The shuttle service will operate for approximately two years until the MIA Mover begins service between MIA and the RCC.

The total cost of the RCC is $343 million. It will be funded by the second TIFIA loan ($270 million), as well as from revenues from customer facility charges now in place on all rental car contracts originating at MIA.

Construction began on June 15, 2003, and the grand opening of the RCC is set for May 2010.

According to Carlos Duarte, Turner Construction senior project manager, the fact that the project involves an almost four million square foot facility makes it unique from others that Turner Construction has worked on.

“Due to the project covering a million square feet in building footprint, it allowed multiple significant operations going on concurrently that required significant coordination unlike vertical construction that has one clear defined driving operation,” Timothy J. Mincer, Turner Construction project superintendent said. “This facility is the first of its kind with multi-level fueling stations, and because of that, the inspecting authority deliberated over issues more conservatively than what we have experienced in the past.”

In addition, the Turner team noted that the daily grind of pouring and placing 400 cu. yds. (305 cu m) of concrete every day for 14 months is quite grueling on the work force.

“The success of this project represents the epitome of a true team focused to accomplish a common goal,” Mincer said.

The overall project will include 123,000 cu. yds. (94,040 cu m) of concrete, 437 mi (703 km) of PT cable, and 7,200 tons (6,531 t) of reinforcing steel. At peak times, monthly manpower included 800 workers per day and crane power included seven 250-ton (226.7 t) crawlers, eight 65-ton (59 t) hydraulic cranes and two tower cranes with 268-ft (81.7 m) reaches.

According to Turner Construction, major subcontractors include Ranger Construction, Medley, Fla., for earthwork; Baker Concrete Construction Inc., Monroe, Ohio, for cast-in-place concrete; Coreslab Structures Inc., Medley, Fla., for structural precast; GLF Construction Corp, Miami, for cast-in-place concrete; Nagelbush Mechanical Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for HVAC; Steel Fabricators, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for structural steel; Vila & Son Landscaping Corp., Miami, for landscape work; Fisk Electric; Medly, Fla., for electrical work; Miller Clapperton, Austell, Ga., for composite wall panels; Lotspeich, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for drywall and acoustical ceilings; Environmental Interiors Inc., Hudson, N.H., for perform metal panels; Novum Structures LLC, Menomonee, Fla., for space frames; Triple M. Roofing, Miami, for roofing; and Talon, Belanger, and Toscano, Arlington, Tex., for fuel systems.

Other Program Components

The MIC-Earlington Heights Connector phase of the MIC Program involves a 2.4-mi (3.8 km) extension of the Metrorail system from the existing Earlington Heights station at NW 22 Avenue and NW 41 Street to the MIC near MIA.

The project, being built by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), will create a station at the MIC that will provide passengers with a central transfer point to Metrobus, Metrorail, Tri-rail, Amtrak, Greyhound, tour buses, taxi cabs and the MIA Mover that connects to MIA.

This portion of the program began on April 30, 2009, and is expected to be complete by April 2012.

The total cost of the MIC-Earlington Heights Connector is estimated to be $526 million. Funding for the project includes $426 million from the People’s Transportation Plan, known as the half-cent sales tax, and $100 million from the FDOT.

Miami Central Station

The Miami Central Station (MCS) will serve as Miami-Dade County’s first all-inclusive ground transportation hub. Its design will accommodate all transportation modes and provide intermodal connectivity between transportation options.

The MCS will feature an enhanced Tri-Rail station, connections to the RCC, MIA Mover, Metrorail (upon completion of the MIC-Earlington Heights Extension project) and Amtrak. A public parking area will be connected to the facility by a central walkway, and the public space will serve as a gateway to the MCS around which bus depots will be located for Greyhound, Miami-Dade Metrobus, taxis, courtesy buses and shuttles currently serving MIA.

The MCS will cover 16.5 acres. The project involving the west concourse began in May 2009 and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2012. Construction of the east concourse will begin in October 2010, with completion set for December 2012.

The estimated cost of this portion of the program is $100 million, with funding coming from FDOT transportation funds, federal Surface Transportation Funds, federal grants, and private sector fees and charges.

MIA Mover

The MIA Mover, a dual track 1.25-mi. (2.01 km) elevated people mover system, will be built and operated by the MDAD. FDOT is responsible for its guideway foundations and construction of its station at the MIC. The system is designed to allow for safe movement of visitors to and from their rental cars, as well as a seamless connection to and from MIA and the RCC, and later to the MCS.

According to FDOT, the MIA Mover will eliminate the need for more than a half-million shuttle bus trips to off-site rental car companies each year, which will reduce curbside traffic at the airport’s lower level by 30 percent each day. It will be capable of transporting more than 3,000 passengers to and from the airport per hour.

Construction of the MIA Mover began in March 2005, and it is scheduled for completion in September 2011.

The total cost is $260 million, which will be funded primarily through MDAD’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Miami-Dade County’s contribution to the project is $160 million, and FDOT’s contribution of $100 million includes the guideway, foundations and the stations located at the MIC and MIA.

Joint Development

Joint development at the MIC will have the potential for office space, a hotel/conference center, restaurants, and ancillary retail and parking, based on demand. These options are currently being explored, according to FDOT.

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