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Old 11-10-2015, 09:56 AM
 
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This would be wonderful for the Florida Keys, if it is in fact as storm-resistant as they say. I would love to see details as to how they might implement it, where the stops are, and how one gets to the stations or if they have parking (don't see honestly how they would find space, but it would be great if they did - especially elevated parking garages which most of the Keys lack as emergency parking for storms).

Another benefit that they mention is dealing with sea level rise. If in fact they raise the rail, it could be well above any flood waters, securing a way of getting around even when individual neighborhoods are barred from using their cars due to salt water inundation. One could perhaps right a bicycle (or if we ever got a local bus system that would be great) to the rail station, and just hop on.

It is also nice to pay homage to our history with another rail system - I always found it odd that despite the extreme amount of money and quality workmanship that went into building the original Flagler railroad, after the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 it was completely abandoned rather than simply adding cheap bridges (even foot bridges) to the broken sections and maintaining it, at the very least as a walkway and possible bicycle path. 100 years after build, most of the railway is still there, now proving a historical eyesore rather than making use of what are obviously very strong structures. (I wish money would be put into stabilizing the entire railway remaining, if possible.)

Of course, this issue does go back to the previous thread I wrote about ambivalence regarding Keys growth. In a way, light rail does have the potential to lessen environmental impact, as well as the extreme danger of our current only highway and mode of transportation. But, it also makes visiting the Keys way easier - especially if it connected to Miami, which would absolutely revolutionize Keys tourism - and living here a lot more attractive. I suppose I could live with the increased volume of people, and residents, if multiple modern projects like this can be put in place which effectively control and limit the impact of humans on the Keys environment. That remains to be seen though, both with a study of this possible light rail project, and with any other plan to keep the Keys Green and still as wild as possible while being accessible. VERY stringent regulations are needed if the Keys are to stay a wild and beautiful place - regulations that do not place people or businesses as the priority, but rather the local land and wildlife.

A light rail would completely revamp the way our tourism works of course, and some whose businesses may be far from stations might oppose it. But ultimately, providing more ways for tourists to get around and see more than just Key West (which currently is the most accessible despite being the farthest away, and at this point oversaturated with both tourism and residents, as well as the cars they bring), would help everyone.

Wow, first sewers, and now a rail system. The Keys leap into the 20th century in just the past 5 years! I hope they take the idea seriously and take it further to do an impact study and complete design.

County may look into light rail | KeysNews.com
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:04 AM
 
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Any kind of rail system in the Keys just would seem out of place. The Keys are a look back to a time in the past when things were slower and technology wasn't needed. Having a modern rail system would turn the Keys into something it shouldn't be. Not sure what that would be, but it wouldn't be right no matter what it turned the Keys into. I know the current situation, with only one road in and out, isn't ideal, but it's one of the charms of the Keys, knowing that there's only one way.
One idea I had, which will never happen due to the expense and the engineering difficulties, would be a direct bridge to Key West, so that people who's destination is mile 0 wouldn't have to drive through the rest of the Keys to get there. It would greatly reduce the traffic going through the other islands as well as reduce the time it takes to get to KW. But, like I said, never gonna happen.
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Old 11-11-2015, 05:59 AM
 
Location: Port Charlotte
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Light rail is very expensive. The cost to replace all the bridges and rail systems would be OMG. Cost just to re-lay the track where you don't have to rebuild the grade or bridges exceeds $1M a mile. But you would have to rebuild the bridges since they wouldn't meet standards. Think 7-Mile.

Then you would have to buy the ROW for additional sidings to allow for trains running in to directions. That land is just not available.

Finally, there is NO light rail system that is self-supporting. Every one requires a subsidy.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Restrain View Post

Finally, there is NO light rail system that is self-supporting. Every one requires a subsidy.

I don't think it was meant to be self-supporting. I think the idea was that because the Keys bring an enormous amount of revenue to FL and to Monroe County (through hotel taxes alone, much less the other profits associated), and certainly a light-rail would bring even more tourist money, that the needs of the local citizens and that significant revenue justify the investment. There is a large investment of money anyway by the state and the county to manage the Overseas Hwy, the frequent gridlock, the constant increase in residents and plans for mega-wealthy resorts (one of the most luxury hotels in the world is currently being planned for Knights Key, for instance), the many deadly accidents... the current model is not really self-sustaining, and is expensive to keep managing. A light rail (or any second transportation option) would offset some of those costs simply by way of drawing the extreme number of drivers away from using the highway. So it's not entirely a cost that is from the ground-up, without off-setting factors. Nor is it purely a luxury, since we are the only county in all of FL (and possibly the nation, with the exception maybe of parts of Alaska) that operates on only a single road. We bring in a great deal of revenue given that situation, we are not exactly a one-horse town that no one cares to visit.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:20 PM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,360,085 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unquiltom View Post
Any kind of rail system in the Keys just would seem out of place. The Keys are a look back to a time in the past when things were slower and technology wasn't needed. Having a modern rail system would turn the Keys into something it shouldn't be. Not sure what that would be, but it wouldn't be right no matter what it turned the Keys into. I know the current situation, with only one road in and out, isn't ideal, but it's one of the charms of the Keys, knowing that there's only one way.
One idea I had, which will never happen due to the expense and the engineering difficulties, would be a direct bridge to Key West, so that people who's destination is mile 0 wouldn't have to drive through the rest of the Keys to get there. It would greatly reduce the traffic going through the other islands as well as reduce the time it takes to get to KW. But, like I said, never gonna happen.
All things modernize, no place exists in a vacuum. It's not like the Keys is a historically preserved place, like Williamsburg, VA. The more residents who move here from other wealthy places, the more the sentiment of the county is to modernize. Plus, the Keys are already undergoing many updates to keep up with the demands of tourism, which expect modern hotel buildings with modern amenities, and modern restaurants and stores. We have sewer now (just recently), and even fiber optic cables. Things don't stay the same here forever, and since it has been part of the US, they never did.

The Flagler railroad was a cutting-edge modern technology that no one believed was possible, was astronomically expensive, and shot the Keys to the forefront of modern playgrounds for the disgustingly wealthy. If anything, the light rail is simply in keeping with that tradition. The Keys were NOT old-school and out of touch, they were at the forefront of new ideas. A/C, solar power, and other inventions were widely used here long before they were common elsewhere, because the wealthiest and most progressive-minded people came down here and wanted them, and had the obscene money to pay for it. People laughed at the Flagler railroad when it was first proposed, because it was seen as dumping billions of dollars right into the ocean, in a place that remember, at that time, barely any people even lived on or had been to, in a time before mosquito control and air conditioning, when only Key West was a profitable, if remote, outpost. Today, there is far more economic reason to justify such an expenditure.

I have also felt that a highway system with an overpass for express traffic, and the existing Overseas Hwy as the underpass for local traffic (much like how the George Washington Bridge and a lot of the NJ turnpike works in NYC/NJ) would be beneficial. Tolls would also help pay for building and maintenance costs, although I'm sure they won't cover them entirely by any means. But one is up against likely serious pushback from residents, who will call it an eyesore, and also complain about the construction which would be bound to interfere with use of the Overseas Hwy if it fact it was connected to it. And again, we go back to my worry that adding highway to the Keys increases human traffic beyond the county's capacity. People are still pissed about the expansion of parts of the Overseas Hwy to occasionally include passing lanes, because it came with more crazy drivers.

I liked the rail idea because it limits the people who come in. Not everybody is going to want to come down to visit without a car. Miami's public transportation system is terrible, and not all Miami people will want to drive to their local station, and transfer to the Monroe County light rail, either. So it will encourage tourists, while at the same time limiting the numbers. Plus, since we have such a terrible problem with DUIs and kamikaze visiting drivers, this would address that problem, rather than add further to the highway death toll and danger for local residents. Also, the rail would be designed to be Green, clean, and quiet - likely much better on all of those fronts than any highway.

I think it's a good idea to play around with. As one of the highest-grossing areas in FL for tourism, I think we do merit consideration for anything that not only serves community members, but also the tourist economy. The Florida Keys attract some of the wealthier tourists and residents in the world to Florida, which is a group that state politicians are most keen to please. Giving them modern conveniences encourages them to drop more money here, and to tell their friends.

Do I like anything that expands the area? That's why I wrote the whole other thread about being conflicted... because I really don't know. I see a lot of bad, and also a lot of good, that can come with it. I prefer at least projects that seek more outside tourists and residents, if we're going to do that anyway, in as environmentally responsible a manner as possible. A highway does not help local wildlife at all. But a light rail might potentially. It might also encourage more wealthy people who are environment-minded to come here, and put their money into efforts to help preserve this beautiful place for many generations to come.

Last edited by StarfishKey; 11-11-2015 at 12:32 PM..
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Old 11-11-2015, 03:25 PM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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It's one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard for the keys.

There is already a bus system through the keys and plenty of shuttles that are under utilized.

They'd be better off with a no frills, low cost airline using Ocean Reef, Marathon, Key West, and some of the under utilized private airstrips in the keys along with a shuttle system.
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Old 11-12-2015, 04:43 AM
 
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With so little land and so much water maybe it's just me but a high speed ferry system seems more appropriate from a logistics and fiscal standpoint. Something like this perhaps..Lake Express - Lake Michigan's high speed ferry
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:50 AM
 
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The comments here, while appreciated, are obviously from people who don't live here and don't understand life here at all. It would take pages to explain what is wrong with them, but I'll try to keep the explanations short.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blueherons View Post
There is already a bus system through the keys and plenty of shuttles that are under utilized.

They'd be better off with a no frills, low cost airline using Ocean Reef, Marathon, Key West, and some of the under utilized private airstrips in the keys along with a shuttle system.
I don't really know what you're talking about. There is no "bus system through the keys." There is a single bus line that runs from key west to marathon, and another that requires a transfer, from marathon to miami. The bus only goes on the highway, and does not stop anywhere local off the road that people want to go to, like beaches, or grocery stores/shopping strips, or popular tourist attractions. The bus is not frequent, so it is not really possible to use it for daily errands. It is not useful for disabled or elderly people, because where is stops is often a mile or more in intense heat or rain from to where the person is trying to go, and they will have to walk all that way. No one who lives in the Keys is a fan of the single bus that we have, and everyone here who lives on a Key other than Key West (which is both small enough to be walkable, and has an ACTUAL bus system), needs to own their own car to get around. Moreover, the bus is extremely slow, stopping every time someone waves it down, so it takes longer to use it, and to transfer at Marathon, than it does to drive.

An airline is impractical, costing as much as a light rail would, but going much slower. You would need to have many planes available for a frequent schedule, and intense Homeland Security given the location of the Keys and the proximity to Cuba which is now opening up. It would be a prime means of drug smuggling and human trafficking. You then need to build airports and runways on every single island in the Keys - um, no. People would have to make reservations and board, then fly, and wait to disembark, a total of hours, just to visit somewhere they could have driven to faster. That makes no sense whatsoever. We do have flights, but they are for millionaires who own their prop planes and single engines, and for helicopters. The cost of each of these flights is immense, and not remotely practical for either residents or tourists to use as a means of quickly getting around.

There is no public shuttle system. Shuttles are for tourists, paid for often by their hotel. They are slower than cars because of the time to load up, and again, do not fix the problem whatsoever that you are still using the often gridlocked and dangerous highway.

None of these suggestions improve any of the current problem conditions in the Keys that both residents and tourists are complaining about.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle19125 View Post
With so little land and so much water maybe it's just me but a high speed ferry system seems more appropriate from a logistics and fiscal standpoint. Something like this perhaps..Lake Express - Lake Michigan's high speed ferry

That would be awesome, but for the fact that the Keys are known for extremely shallow waters a long way out from shore. We have almost no public marinas for this reason. This is why there is ferry service now from Key West to Ft. Myers, but not anywhere up the Keys, and why they are working on a ferry that goes direct from Marathon to Cuba. The rest of the water is often only 4ft deep, and many areas go down to 2ft at low tide. We have no deep water dock to install a public marina, so there would be nowhere to receive passengers, or check them in or out. We could accommodate water taxis, but they would be very slow, and rather expensive to run for the few people they can take on board. On of the other problems is that so much of the Keys' surrounding waters are federally protected wildlife zones, that finding a route through them for a vessel of that size is very difficult. You would need high-speed ferry service for this idea to be useful, and the only place to put it potentially is in the Intracoastal Waterway, but then where would people disembark? In the ocean? And what about all the constant traffic already on the Intracoastal bordering the Keys? A vessel needs to be going fast enough to be faster than using your car, but not so fast that it provides a wake in the numerous no-wake zones, rips up protected seagrass that surrounds nearly every part of the Keys, nor to hit endangered manatees, which would cause people to freak out. Moreover, the vessel service needs to not be interrupted by mildly rough seas, nor to make the people on board seasick from the constant jostling around of our frequent ocean advisory conditions due to our rainstorms and offshore hurricanes.




Perhaps this is not a topic that people living outside the Keys understand very well, but actually, a hurricane-proofed light rail makes a lot more sense from a practical standpoint, and economic standpoint, and an environmental one, than any of the other suggestions brought up. We're not going to sink money on nothing, we'll keep the poorly-working highway system rather than add a hundred million dollar program that is WORSE than the current highway, obviously. But light rail is one of the few options that has potential to SOLVE our highway problems, making inter-Keys travel far faster, far safer, far more environmentally friendly, far more convenient, and also affordable to the user, than either our highway, or the other ideas thus far floated on this thread. Spending $4 dollars to zip up with no prior reservation from Sombrero Beach, for instance, to Harry Harris Park, or from Cudjoe Key to Lower Matecumbe Key, in the span of 20 minutes of spectacular views with no driving fatalities or emissions, and disembarking immediately, is a million times better than taking 5 hours total w/ reservations and embark/disembark to go the same distance on a ferry for $15 dollars, or 3 hours total and $200 on a plane w/ reservations and embark/disembark, or driving 2-6 hours (depending on accidents and the monthly festivals we have, and whether or not tourists are constantly slamming on their breaks at every bridge to look at the sunset) in extremely stressful conditions, for $10 in gas to up to a million dollars if you're in an accident that disables somebody.

People keep bringing up lack of land space, but that is not a factor here. We do need enough space to make stations, but I doubt they would be very big. If they want to add parking, that would need to be on the few islands that have enough room for it, but I don't know if this is part of their plan. Our current highway is primarily NOT on land, especially land that existed originally. And the Flagler railroad was not built on existing land either. Both are mostly elevated, often careening over large open expanses of sea.

I do not know the logistics of the construction part, but it would seem to me that if the existing structures - either the Overseas Hwy or the Flagler Railroad - were strong enough (or could be bolstered in a way that is cost saving, vs. staring from scratch) to take on the added weight, the light rail could conceivably be built, elevated directly over one of them. Or, the majority of the Overseas Hwy going North and South is currently divided by road islands, and it would be very easy to place the light rail directly BETWEEN them with a concrete barrier wall, for most of the distance of the entire highway. Then you could place the stations elevated OVER the rail and highways, with stairs and elevators leading out past all 3 tracks, onto the flat ground. I'm not an engineer or architect, so these are just brainstorming ideas based on subways stations I have seen before. But it would seem to me that if you combine the subway system in NYC (which is often actually not below ground, but way ABOVE ground crossing over into the outer boroughs), with the original model of the Flagler Railroad which built an entire transportation network in the sky, the foundation of which has lasted through endless hurricanes and rough seas for 100 years, I would think this idea is not that difficult.

If they could do it in 1900, they can certainly do it now. It is reactionary to think something built from nothing 100 years ago is too advanced for us today. And aren't people all about "job creators" in this state? Do you have any idea what a huge job creator for DECADES the Flagler railroad was? That brings in plenty of money to the state of Florida, in wages, in new residents who move to work on it or design it if Floridians leave open positions, etc. The main concern is not to have it crumble in catastrophe overnight, like the original railroad did with the Cat 5 Labor Day hurricane. But if they can prove it is hurricane proofed, I think it's worth at least drawing up plans and models for and conducting an honest impact study. Saying no to innovation without even seeing it is foolhardy, and keeps our state behind where it could be. If the impact study says it is detrimental to the environment, or to residents, then nothing much was lost. Either the plan gets tweaked, or it gets tossed. But at least an attempt was made to improve conditions that tens of thousands of tax-paying residents, and hundreds of thousands of tourists, have a problem with. That's how government is supposed to work, it is supposed to innovate to fix problems for its citizenry, providing infrastructure, supporting the economy, and protecting natural resources.
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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I'm not going to copy and paste your extremely long reply but my family has had a house in Key West since the late 1970s and my parents live there part time now. My family has been there and been part of the keys (my parents are well know philanthropists in the keys) for decades.

I'm a resident of South Florida.

There are MANY small, private airports all through the keys and an airline would be subsidized just like a light rail system would have to be.

The BIG difference as that an airline would not destroy the ecosystem like a light rail would. Also, no one would lose land because you would be using existing runways.

A light rail system would not support itself any more than an airline would.

You must be a newbie to the keys to think for a second a rail system would work or that it would ever pass. Google why Holiday Isle was never sold to a development company. Too many people would fight it.

As far as bus systems, the Keys Shuttle (www.KeysShuttle) goes all through the keys. Greyhound goes all through the keys and makes stops everywhere. The Key West City Buses go all the way to Key Colony Beach 50 miles north of Key West. Miami City Buses go all the way to Mile Marker 50 about where the Key West City bus starts.

Do you see where I'm going with this? There is already a heavy bus/shuttle system through the keys.
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Old 11-12-2015, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
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hello, you're going under….. now is not the time to build anything….

Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away | US news | The Guardian
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