Monorail to the Florida Keys…Possible?
As a south Florida native and someone who frequents the Florida Keys I have been hoping this day would come for many years. I am glad to hear that I am not the only person who thinks some form of commuter rail system would be a great way to visit the Florida Keys.
According to the article from the Associated Press, “A recent county traffic study found a 48 percent increase in traffic delays since 2013 on the highway linking the Keys with the mainland.” & “The Monroe County Commission agreed Tuesday to work with the Florida Department of Transportation on the study.”
For anyone who has ever visited the keys you probably already know that traffic can be a nightmare, largely due to lack of traveling options. There is only one route ( US1 ) vehicles can use to travel the 126 miles from Florida City to Key West. For the most part it’s just a two lane road. This means that one car accident or even just rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon can make traveling into, out of and within the Florida Keys an absolute disaster.
“Some commissioners and residents opposed the idea, saying a rail system would add visual clutter to scenic U.S. Highway 1.” I would like to know who these genius’ of rationale are, what were the argument points used in their internal debate that allowed them to come to such a misguided conclusion, and have they ever driven an automobile in the Florida Keys? There are simply so many benefits to a commuter rail service in the Keys that arguing against it because it would ‘add visual clutter’ is moronic.
I would like to point out that the proposed rail system, if ever completed, would not be the first. Not by a long shot. Way back in 1905, Henry Flagler built the Florida Overseas Railroad linking Key West to the mainland United States and the Florida East Coast Railway. Known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the railroad operated successfully from 1912-1935 when it was devastated by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. I know they don’t make’em like they used to but it can’t be that hard for people to realize what Henry Flagler realized over 100 years ago (when there were far fewer cars on the road).
Some of the benefits to having a commuter rail service in the Keys would be…
- Less Pollution – The Florida Keys are as unique and fragile of an ecosystem as they are beautiful. Less cars on the road means less pollution which is good for everyone.
- Less impact on wildlife – Fatal collisions with wildlife like the endangered key deer, birds, and reptiles would be fewer if less cars were on the road.
- Traffic congestion – I imagine that the majority of people using the rail service would be visitors to the keys which means residents would experience less traffic in their day to day lives.
- Fewer traffic accidents – It is no secret that people like to have a good time in the keys and that often means people are drinking and driving. Because of this, US1 in the keys is one of the deadliest stretches of highway in North America. Commuter trains will help keep drunk drivers off the roads.
- Increased revenue from tourism – Faster, safer and cheaper commuting means more people will visit. Iif you have any imagination at all it isn’t difficult to envision a not too distant future where the BrightLine high speed passenger rail service, currently under construction which will offer affordable commuter services from Orlando to Miami, could potentially connect to a light rail passenger service in the Keys. Now wouldn’t that be incredible?