Utica Comets Start Out The Season The Right Way

The Utica Comets got their second American Hockey League season off to a running start with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies Saturday afternoon at the Ricoh Coliseum.

Alex Grenier
Alex Grenier
Dustin Jeffrey
Dustin Jeffrey


The Comets, who didn’t win until their 11th game in their inaugural campaign, 29 days into the season, got 5-on-3 power play goals from Alex Grenier and Dustin Jeffrey and some strong work in goal from Jacob Markstrom (pictured above) to earn the victory over the defending North Division champions.


“It feels good,” said Comets coach Travis Green, who suffered through that tough early season a year ago in his first professional coaching assignment. “I thought our team played really well. It’s a real good road win. I like a lot of things our team did.”

The Comets and Marlies, who split a half-dozen games last season, will meet again at 3 p.m. Sunday at Ricoh.

The Comets spotted the Marlies a goal, Trevor Smith’s score at 7:27 of the first period, but responded quickly. Less than two minutes later, Grenier, who scored 17 goals last season, connected on a one-timer as the Comets skated with a two-man advantage. Cal O’Reilly – the Comets’ new captain – and Bobby Sanguinetti picked up the assists. Utica took the lead early in the second period when Dustin Jeffrey scored, again as the Comets held a two-man advantage. O’Reilly, who had 45 assists in 52 games with the Comets last season, and Grenier helped out on that score. Utica had a wide 20-5 shot advantage in the period to help keep the Marlies at bay, then killed two penalties in the third period as Markstrom made 13 saves to hang on for the win.

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Utica Comets Season Opener: Who Dresses?

The team opens the season at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Toronto Marlies.

AHL rules permit a team to dress no more than 18 skaters and two goalies every game, meaning that Travis Green will have to scratch seven players every game. With nine defensemen and two goalies on the roster, the bulk of those cuts likely will come from the 16 forwards (of which Zalewski is one) the Comets currently are carrying.

Who made the cut?

FORWARDS: Darren Archibald, Carter Bancks,

Carter Bancks
Carter Bancks

Brandon DeFazio,


Alex Friesen,

(Comets Photo by Lindsay A. Mogle)

Brendan Gaunce, Alex Grenier, Wacey Hamilton, Dustin Jeffrey, Nicklas Jensen


, Ryan Jones, Ronalds Kenins, Patrick Kennedy, Kellan Lain, Cal O’Reilly, Hunter Shinkaruk, Mike Zalewski.

DEFENSEMEN: Peter Andersson, Jeremie Blain, Alex Biega, Travis Ehrhardt, Kent Huskins, Kane Lafranchise, John Negrin, Bobby Sanguinetti, Henrik Tommernes.

GOALIES: Joacim Eriksson, Jacob Markstrom.

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Harmon Shops of the New York Central Railroad

This is a great addition to other blogs we have published already


Harmon Shops looking southeast, 1914. Harmon Shops looking southeast, 1914.

Here are some photos of the “Harmon Shops” in 1907, when they were brand new, and in 1914, when they became the terminus of the innovative “electric system” from New York City—one of the main selling points for Clifford Harmon’s real estate development.

Harmon Shops looking south, 1907. Harmon Shops looking south, 1907.

The photos come from articles in two industry publications—the Street Railway Journal and the Electric Railway Journal—which describe the facility in great detail and include maps, schematic drawings, and additional photos. Click the links below to read them. You can also click the photos to enlarge them.

Interior view of the machine shop, 1914. Interior view of the machine shop, 1914.

  • “The Electrical Maintenance Plants of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company,” Street Railway Journal, vol. XXIX, June 8, 1907.
  • “Harmon Shops of the New York Central Railroad,” Electric Railway Journal, vol. XLIII, June 6, 1914.

Harmon Shops looking north, with the inspection shed in the foreground, 1907. Harmon Shops…

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Both Sides Of The Atlantic Shopping For New Ryder Cup Captains.

Seems likje the next couple of years will be all about the next Ryder Cup. First we had Phil Mickelson attacking Tom Watson. Now lots of comments from people like Johnny Miller and others saying Phil might have been right, it was his “presentation” that was wrong. Even rumors of Tiger or even Phil himself running for captain.

On the “other side of the pond”, Colin Montgomery “hints” at sole prospective captains.Unfortunately, he is not talking about MY candidate:



But the battle still rages in the U.S. John Hawkins wonders how “perhaps the greatest wind-and-rain golfer ever turn into such an accountability-dodging curmudgeon amid a foul-weather team atmosphere?” He also concludes that “Watson’s inability to cope with his team’s shortcomings amounts to a much larger and less excusable failure, a catastrophic breach of conduct by a guy who obviously knows better.”

Tim Rosaforte talked with Morning Drive’s Damon Hack Saturday about Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup captain situation and revealed that Phil Mickelson had started bending PGA of America presidents ear at the Scottish Open about Watson’s communication style as far back as June when Mickelson had been unsuccessful in talking to the Captain.

Jaime Diaz noted in his Golf World analysis that it’s telling “that as of Sunday, not one player or even assistant captain has publicly come to Watson’s defense” and also points out that the Europeans, while not thrilled with certain captaincies of late, have never broken ranks like the Americans did at Gleneagles and since.

Finally, the new season is starting and Rory thinks about the possibility of a McIl-slam


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Is It Florida Versus All Aboard Florida Or What?

Two companies with ties to All Aboard Florida —  Florida East Coast Railway and Florida East Coast Industries — have given more than $125,000 to candidates and committees during the 2014 election cycle — a fraction of what several other large businesses in have contributed during the same time frame, state and county records show.

Florida East Coast Railway contributed $74,825 to 2014 campaigns, state finance records show. The vast majority of that money — $70,000 — went to Let’s Get To Work, a political committee backing Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign.

Florida East Coast Industries had contributed $51,689 as of Monday afternoon, according to state finance records. The money went to several campaigns, including: $7,500 to the Republican Party of Florida; $3,000 to Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam: and $3,000 to state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

The company contributed $1,000 each to both Democratic State Sen. Maria Sachs and her Republican challenger Ellyn Bogdanoff in the Palm Beach-Broward Senate District 34 race.

Florida East Coast Industries also contributed $1,000 each to Palm Beach County Commissioners Steven Abrams and Paulette Burdick.

By comparison, U.S. Sugar has given more than $2.3 million to state candidates, state finance records show. Roughly half of that went to the Republican Party of Florida.
Political newcomer David Silvers hopes to beat incumbent Bill Hager

David Ryan Silvers is running for political office for the first time, and in a district that might be the most competitive in Palm Beach County. What could make his chances of a win seem even more tough is that he’s running against a man who already has name recognition and two consecutive terms in his pocket. But Silvers says he is confident he’ll be the one chosen to head to Tallahassee , not Rep. Bill Hager.

The area is mostly coastal and is nearly split between the two parties; Republicans take 36 percent of the district and Democrats take 34 percent. It is the only district in the state house races that have both candidates running political ads on television.

Concerning All Aboard Florida. Silvers said some of his concerns are about safety and emergency crew response times possibly affected by the trains. He said the project would benefit the area economically, but, “when there’s such an outrage from a community, that usually would trump the economic impact.”

Hager said he is “sensitive” to the potential impact at the crossings. “So my position is we need to catch our breath and take a careful look at it,” Hager said.

All Aboard Florida cuts risk to taxpayers

To All Aboard Florida, the venture planning high-speed rail service through Brevard, for eliminating one of the main knocks against its plan. No longer will it seek a low-interest federal loan to build or upgrade tracks between Miami and Orlando — making it publicly subsidized and possibly a risk to taxpayers. Instead, the company plans to finance through private bondholders and repay them, tax-free, from private operating cash flow. The downside to those who oppose 32 trains a day zipping through towns on the Florida East Coast Railway: They can no longer fight the loan approval to monkey-wrench the plans.


Brevard Commission tackles train noise issue

County commissioners debated whether it would be a good idea to take steps to reduce the noise created by the horns of 32 passenger trains a day passing through 50 crossings in central and southern Brevard County.

The majority said they want to do whatever they can to implement a continuous “quiet zone” in Brevard along the route of the proposed All Aboard Florida train service. But Commissioner Trudie Infantini voted against that, fearing the safety issues created if the train horns do not sound as a train approaches the railroad crossings.

All Aboard Florida is proposing train service from Orlando International Airport to Miami, with interim stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Plans call for 16 trains a day in each direction.

Some local residents are opposed to the service, because of its potential impact on the environment, noise, road traffic and safety. Compounding the issue: The trains will not be stopping in Brevard to pick up or drop off passengers.

The Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization proposes that the county and six affected Brevard cities and towns on the route seek quiet zone designation from the Federal Railroad Administration to eliminate the sounding of a train horn at each crossing the train approaches.

All Aboard Florida seeks private financing to replace or augment federal loan request

All Aboard Florida has changed its plan to pay for its express passenger rail line and will seek private debt financing that will replace or substantially reduce its current federal loan request, according to its website.

The private company, which plans to run 32 trains per day from Miami to Orlando, has applied for a $1.6 billion loan with the Federal Railroad Administration, but says it “has decided to pursue” the alternative route of a private activity bond allocation to pay for West Palm Beach to Orlando leg of the track.

The Miami to West Palm Beach portion of the plan was paid for with $405 million in high-risk bonds that the company sold in the spring.

Proceeds from the PABs, equity contributions from All Aboard Florida’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries, and rolling stock financing, will provide all the funding necessary to develop the project between Miami and Orlando,” All Aboard Florida’s website says.

The $405 million in privately offered notes, which carry a 12 percent interest payout, were expected to be paid off by the $1.6 billion publicly subsidized federal loan once it was awarded.

In a prospectus for the bond sale, potential buyers were told that All Aboard Florida may redeem all or part of the notes sometime before the end of 2016 “with the proceeds of a Government Loan.”

All Aboard Florida said it floated the bonds because it didn’t want to wait to begin construction until the loan was awarded. An environmental impact statement, which was released last month, had been delayed since the spring, and a 75-day comment period still stands in the way of the loan being considered.

The company already pushed back the start date of the West Palm Beach to Orlando service to early 2017.

Cato Institute rail expert Randal O’Toole has said in the past that he is skeptical All Aboard Florida will be profitable either as a transportation or real estate investment.

At the same time, All Aboard Florida opponents have questioned why the federal government would loan money to a project that is considered so high-risk in the private sector that it required a 12 percent bond yield.

The money they borrowed in the marketplace was at a junk bond level,” said Steve Ryan, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney hired by the group Citizens Against Rail Expansion. “To me, raising money at junk bond levels is not an indication of strength.”

All Aboard Florida has said the total cost for its unprecedented project is $2.5 billion, and the prospectus notes that parent company Florida East Coast Industries has contributed $345 million in cash to the plan. It has also contributed to the land purchased for the stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, which is valued at approximately $730 million, according to the prospectus.

“They definitely have skin in the game,” said Chris Kotowski, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. “Three hundred and forty-five million dollars, that’s not peanuts.”

In general, though, the RRIF program authorizes the Federal Railroad Administration to provide direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35 billion to finance development of railroad infrastructure. Up to $7 billion is reserved for projects benefiting freight railroads.

The money may be used to acquire and improve rail equipment or facilities, refinance outstanding debt taken on to rehabilitate rail lines, and develop new intermodal railroad facilities — all things All Aboard Florida plans to do.

If the company’s $1.6 billion request is granted, it will be the largest RRIF loan awarded to date.


Commentary: All Aboard Florida benefits to county

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio

Perhaps it is from my perspective as a member of the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Council (MPO) that makes it difficult for me to understand the recent debate among some of the cities in Palm Beach County whether to support the All Aboard Florida passenger rail project.

The comments seem to surround answering the general question of determining the direct benefit to a particular city. That in fact is what we do on the MPO. We decide how to spend tens of millions of public tax dollars for transportation projects that will not only help a particular local government but will enhance the overall transportation grid within Palm Beach County as a whole.

Most projects don’t directly help my city of West Palm Beach. However, everyone on the MPO realizes that better roads, better mass transit, better turning lanes and beautified roadways, no matter in what city they are located, work to make all of Palm Beach County and our collective quality of life better for everyone. Try to imagine the gridlock that would occur on the MPO if every dollar for every project had to also be justified by a city proving a direct beneficial nexus to every other city in Palm Beach County.

It is also why the MPO voted to set aside funding for “quiet zone” upgrades for the cities in Palm Beach County that run along the FEC (Florida East Coast) rail corridor. All the cities to the west of the FEC corridor will not directly benefit from the quiet zones, but recognize that the overall benefit to our county far exceeds the incremental cost.

I know there is a grass-roots effort attempting to stop the All Aboard initiative or somehow turn it into a public-sector project based upon a federal loan application, and as an elected official, I certainly respect the right of every citizen to get involved and voice their opinions. But equal respect should be afforded to the industries and cities that actually believe passenger rail service being integrated into Florida is a good thing.

Yes, West Palm Beach is the city designated for the All Aboard rail station. But West Palm Beach is the county seat, is centrally located and in close proximity to Palm Beach International Airport. In the same way all of Palm Beach County benefits from Wellington’s equestrian economy, or Jupiter’s bioscience research hub, or Boca Raton’s technology corridor, all of Palm Beach County will benefit from having an All Aboard Florida station in West Palm Beach.

From my position as a member of the MPO, I am thrilled that we don’t have to use a penny of public dollars other than what our cities need for their application to the federal government to request a quiet zone. And if our federal government can actually make money by loaning All Aboard Florida money instead of spending money, I say that’s smart business.

Life in Florida is pretty good for most of us. Yes, we occasionally have to wait in our cars when a boat lazily passes through a bridge opening; or we wait while a train goes by, but what does it say about our lives if those inconveniences ruin our day?

On the MPO, we measure the public dollar cost against the overall public benefit. If the public benefit to Palm Beach County is greater than the cost, we all support the project no matter if one city might benefit more than another. In this case, the benefits of intercity passenger rail and the future infrastructure it will bring, allowing more commuter rail service on the FEC throughout Palm Beach County, far outweigh the cost to the public.


Got more great stuff, will publish SOON.


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What Do SCM Leaders Do In A Crisis?

It all boils down to: (1) Being familiar with emergency procedures; (2) Having VISIBILITY of the supply chain; and (3) finding the right people, provide continuous training and allow them to learn and develop by rotating their roles in the supply chain.
Supply chain managers are always on the “hot seat”: Excess inventory equals obsolescence; lean inventory equals stockouts; either/or hits the bottom line. These “mini crisis” are on a daily basis and prepare the SCM crew for tougher crisis. Be it inventory, transportation, production, or planning, these folks are ready!.

When it comes to supply chain risk: Lack of Visibility (“WHAT IS BEHIND CURTAIN NUMBER 2”) is the biggest danger. While high-tech and apparel industrieshave the best visibility, the supply chain still needs improvement across the board. It is all about those lower-tier suppliers, and even some tier 1 suppliers. If asked, a high percentage of companies have continuity plans and a dual-source strategy. My question is if this is all reactive stuff or have they addressed the unknown?


Read more: http://www.ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/industry-updates/10735-what-do-scm-leaders-do-in-a-crisis#ixzz3FLbDD0fY

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Historic Bus 205 Rides The Streets of Nice

Above, the historic bus is running Route 23.

As well as history buffs, this bus carries  regular passengers. Some are surprised to see it. Bus is equipped with an electronic fare box to make them feel at home.

Several times a year, historic buses roam around Nice, France. Below see him rolling past La Canne à Sucre on Route 8


September 2014 Bus 205 passes La Canne à Sucre
September 2014 Bus 205 passes La Canne à Sucre

Bus 205 atop Mont Boron. Note the porch on the back
Bus 205 atop Mont Boron. Note the porch on the back


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Fans Out In Force At Rome; Shinkaruk, O’Reilly Join Up

The Comets played against the Adirondack Flames in an exhibition game at Rome’s Kennedy Arena that donated all ticket sales to the arena. This is the first time the Comets have played locally this year, but the second time they played at the Rome center. 1,073 fans watched the game.

Last year, the team donated about $3,000, but Brandon Lovett, director of administrative services of Rome, said this year it will “definitely be more.”

A sea of blue rushed to the stands as the game begun and Rome Mayor Joseph Fusco dropped the first puck.

Lovett said he’s glad the Comets were able to come back for a second year, especially as the arena celebrates its 50th anniversary.

“We just really want to thank Robert Esche and the Comets and staff,” Lovett said. “And the city of Rome and parks department for all of their help.”

In other great news:

Hunter Shinkaruk, Vancouver’s No. 1 choice in the 2013 NHL draft, has been assigned to the Comets.

The 5-foot-11, 179-pound left wing will turn 20 Oct. 13. He has been a standout in the Canucks’ training camp.

Hunter Shinkaruk
Hunter Shinkaruk


The Comets also expect to see Cal O’Reilly, who was waived by the Canucks Friday. The veteran center joined the Comets 15 games into last season and played a major role in the team’s second-half surge, finishing with 7 goals and 38 assists in 52 games.

Cal O’Reilly
Cal O’Reilly

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Long Bridge replacement key to future growth, Virginia Railway Express says

Feature picture is the Long Bridge during the Civil War. WOW! I always talk about the Livingston Avenue Bridge in Albany that was started when Lincoln was President. The Long Bridge is OLDER.

A most interesting WebSite about this bridge (and all the bridges in Washington) was done by the National Railway Historical Society. This is the best authority and is really a MUST READ.

We recently wrote about railroads to the Pentagon and completely missed this article

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $2.8 million to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in Washington, D.C., to conduct an environmental study on the proposed replacement of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River. 

The study would analyze alternatives and the environmental effects of constructing a new bridge to increase capacity for freight and passenger railroads, and potentially other modes, such as bikes and pedestrians. Replacing the bridge is crucial to the Virginia Railway Express’ (VRE) System Plan 2040, according to a VRE press release.

“Expansion of the Long Bridge is the single greatest opportunity to add needed capacity to increase VRE’s operation from the 30 trains that use the bridge each day during peak commuting hours,” said VRE Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen.

A new bridge would be necessary for the railroad to consider expanding “run-through” service into Maryland, he added.

VRE officials plan to work with the DDOT and bridge owner CSX Transportation to determine the capacity and mix of modes the bridge needs to address and develop a plan to secure funding. Currently, the bridge is at 98 percent capacity during peak hours and is used by 56 passenger and 23 freight trains daily, VRE officials said.

By 2040, freight traffic on the bridge is expected to grow to 34 daily trains, while passenger train traffic is projected to rise to 132 daily trains, they added

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is completing a study on the Long Bridge, a two track railroad bridge that was constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Long Bridge, owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX), carries traffic from three operators: CSX, Amtrak, and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). The bridge, which crosses the Potomac River, is the only railroad bridge that connects the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.


The purpose of this project is to complete a comprehensive study of the Long Bridge to include identification of short-term needs and long-term capacity improvements, identify and analyze alternatives that meet the short-term and long-term multi-modal needs, and identify, collect, and evaluate data in support of the recommended improvements. Multi-modal needs includes analyzing future operating requirements of high-speed and intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, transit, bike and pedestrian, and freight services.

Finally, let’s try and explain the 14th Street Bridge complex.

The 14th Street bridge has 12 lanes on three separate bridges, a |4| |2-2| |4| arrangement. The 14th Street Bridge is in D.C.; the boundary is the Virginia shoreline. Just a couple hundred yards downstream of the highway bridges, is the 2-track WMATA Metrorail Yellow Line bridge (opened April 30, 1983), and the 2-track CSX Transportation railroad bridge, which carries freight trains, Amtrak trains, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter trains. The WMATA bridge is named the Charles R. Fenwick Bridge, and the CSXT bridge is named the Long Bridge.


14th Street Bridge complex, looking from D.C. into Virginia, with Jefferson Memorial in foreground. From left to right, respectively, the 5 spans are railroad, WMATA Metrorail, highway northbound, highway express, and highway southbound. The series of high-rise buildings in the distance is Crystal City, and the north end of Washington National Airport is visible at the left upper part of the photo. A Yellow Line train is visible in the center of the Metrorail bridge. This photo came from the July 1983 Metro Memo Tabloid magazine, published by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

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Florida East Coast Railway and All Aboard Florida: The “DoomSayers” are Coming Out of the Closet

All Aboard Florida would create ‘unavoidable’ traffic delays through Treasure Coast says TC Palm

Traffic delays at Seaway Drive and the railroad tracks in Fort Pierce — for motorists headed east to the barrier island — would nearly triple if All Aboard Florida begins running passenger trains through the Treasure Coast, according to traffic experts and the Federal Railroad Administration.

All Aboard Florida request delayed by West Palm Beach commissioners

West Palm Beach commissioners will wait until October to discuss All Aboard Florida’s request to close a section of downtown to build a rail station for its upcoming express passenger train service.

West Palm Beach Station
West Palm Beach Station

City commissioners were expected to take up the request at a meeting Monday, but officials said Thursday the item has been delayed and will not appear on the commission’s agenda, according to The Palm Beach Post.

The alley is located between Datura and Evernia streets to the west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

Bridge closures on the New River in Fort Lauderdale would more than double under All Aboard Florida’s proposed passenger service. But the length of each closure would be shorter.

It’s a similar story on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, where bridge closures would quadruple though the duration for each would be less.

A draft study on the impacts of the proposed rail line found:

The New River bridge would be closed 30 times a day for an average of 13 minutes vs. 10 times a day currently for an average of 19 minutes.

The Loxahatchee span would be closed 42 times a day for an average of 12 minutes vs. 10 times a day for an average of 19 minutes.


Drivers can expect crossings to be closed 54 times a day or three times an hour, compared to once an hour now.

And here’s how the study says the impacts, which it labeled “minimal,” will be mitigated:

Faster speeds for both freight and passenger trains, thanks to the construction of a second track.

Coordinated train schedules so passing trains cross at the same time, and increased efficiency in how the bridges are raised and lowered.

There will be a set schedule for bridge closures and countdown timers or signals at each span to indicate when bridges will close and how long before trains will arrive.

There will be a tender at the New River bridge. The span currently is raised and lowered remotely by a dispatcher in Jacksonville.

All Aboard Florida plans to run 32 passenger trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks at speeds of 79 to 125 mph. The FEC now carries about 14 freight trains a day, but that’s expected to increase to 20 a day by 2016.

Together with All Aboard Florida’s trains, that would mean 52 trains a day traveling through downtowns from Miami to West Palm Beach.

Some boaters say the impacts are understated.

“It is difficult to believe than an additional 32 trains plus 20 freight trains crossing the New River would not have any impact even if they actually manage to synchronize the passenger train crossings,” said John Dotto, a boater who lives west of the bridge.

“How can this possibly be considered no impact?”

The New River is the lifeline for Broward’s marine industry, home to about a third of the county’s marinas with the largest concentration west of the railroad bridge. The Loxahatchee River represents slightly less than quarter of Palm Beach County‘s marine industry.

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida has said one of its main concerns is making sure the New River drawbridge is up and the river open to boat traffic at least 40 minutes an hour.

The closures would impact about 36 percent of the 215 boats that pass through the New River bridge on average daily, up from 23 percent currently.

On the Loxahatchee River, the closures would impact about 47 percent of the 121 boats that pass through the bridge on average every day, up from 16 percent currently.

Residents and many elected officials from northern Palm Beach County to the Treasure Coast oppose the project and have grown louder in their opposition. They say their communities will suffer blocked crossings and noise but not get any benefit because the only stops are planned in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport.

Passenger service in the three South Florida cities is expected to start in late 2016 with the northern leg to Orlando starting in 2017.

Florida East Coast Railway is preparing for completion of the Port of Miami’s harbor-deepening project in the fourth quarter of 2015 by purchasing new equipment and locomotives and offering expedited services to population centers in the Southeast.

South Atlantic ports anticipate increased container trade with Asia in early 2016 with the completion of an expansion project at the Panama Canal to allow vessels with capacities of up to 13,000 20-foot container units to transit the canal.

Ports such as Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah and Charleston are at various stages of deepening their harbors so they can accommodate the mega-ships on all-water services from Asia to the East Coast. Miami in late 2015 is scheduled to be the first South Atlantic port to complete a 50-foot dredging project.

When choosing a load center for their mega-ships, container lines look for ports with large local markets plus intermodal rail connections to population centers and cargo hubs outside of their immediate hinterlands.

Trans-Pacific carriers are showing increased interest in Miami as a gateway to both Florida, with its population of more than 19 million, and the entire Southeast via intermodal rail, Jim Hertwig, president and CEO of Florida East Coast Railway, said at a press briefing last week at the Intermodal Association of North America conference in Long Beach.

A deep harbor is only the price of entry into the competition for gateway status in this era of big ships and ocean carrier alliances. Load-center ports must also have excellent inland transportation infrastructure, intermodal rail connectors and highway access to cargo hubs in the interior.

FECR is South Florida’s intermodal connection to the Southeast region. Its 351-mile route connects the ports of Miami, Port Everglades and Palm Beach with Jacksonville, Florida, where it interlines with the Class I eastern railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern.

FECR will be ready in terms of equipment, locomotive power, on-dock rail capacity and expedited service to handle the additional intermodal volume that is anticipated from the Panama Canal and Port of Miami expansion projects, Hertwig said.

The rail carrier is increasing its intermodal capacity by acquiring 500 53-foot domestic containers, 100 chassis and 50 refrigerated trailers. The trailers and containers are equipped with GPS technology.

FECR is also acquiring 24 new locomotives designed to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency Tier 3 emissions requirements. The railroad is also considering the use of retrofit kits that would allow the locomotives to burn liquefied natural gas, Hertwig said. LNG offers increased mileage and lower emissions than diesel fuel.

The railroad has access to Miami’s on-dock rail transfer yard and Port Everglades’ near-dock rail transfer facility that offer reduced costs and enhanced time-to-market service for intermodal services.

FECR is improving its intermodal services to and from cargo hubs in the Southeast, with second-day services to Charlotte, Nashville and Atlanta, Hertwig said.

As carrier alliances expand their service offerings in the major east-west trades, the introduction of one or two weekly services with 10,000-TEU ships would be sufficient to make Miami a competitor for all-water services from Asia, he said.

Public meetings

The Federal Railroad Administration is holding a series of pubilc information meetings. In South Florida, meetings will be from 3:30-7 p.m. on:

Oct. 27 at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, James K. Batten Room 2106, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami;

Oct. 28 at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale;

Oct. 29 at West Palm Beach Marriott, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.


But anything to do FEC or AAF hits the news

The tank, which is about as large as a house, was “venting off,” said Nate Spera, district chief with the Fire District.

They’re designed that if the tank should heat up, it’ll let some gas escape and it’s supposed to close back off,” Spera said. “This one did not close back off, so when we got here it was about 55 percent full at the time.


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