FECI may play role in county transit plan under new president
By Suzy Valentine
Rights of way held by Florida East Coast Industries in Miami-Dade County could be critical to the development of a commuter line, the company's incoming president said Tuesday.
"I understand a study has been undertaken by one of the transportation boards with the state of Florida," said Adolfo Henriques, "but I've not looked at that information yet.
"Whether Florida East Coast rails will come into play or simply the rights of way, I couldn't say," said Mr. Henriques, "but an additional track could easily be added to a single track, and we're attempting to find the best use for the rights of way."
Though the company will focus on its freight and real estate interests, Mr. Henriques said it hopes to be a player in public transportation plans that may be considered after he takes office next week.
"We have two major businesses, that of moving cargo from A to B," he said, "and the development of commercial and industrial real estate, which started as a means of giving clients rail access but has taken on a life of its own in Flagler Development Co."
Flagler owns, leases and manages 7 million square feet of commercial and industrial space and 1.3 million square feet more that is being developed. It has about 740 acres of entitled land and 2,525 more acres of Florida real estate.
"Cargo is a priority for our clients," said Mr. Henriques, "but we'd like to play a large part in moving people."
Subsidiary Florida East Coast Railway oversees a 351-mile regional freight railroad.
Transportation, said Mr. Henriques, formerly CEO of Regions Bank in Coral Gables, is one of the largest issues facing Miami-Dade County.
"We need to find satisfactory means of moving people in South Florida," he said. "That's a problem for the region."
Mr. Henriques can bring his knowledge of the region to the table when he assumes the company's presidency March 28. But travel between the county and the company's St. Augustine base means he may have to forfeit his position as chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
"Really, it's up to the nominating committee," he said, "but I've tendered my resignation as chair-elect."
Meanwhile, Florida East Coast Industries, said Mr. Henriques, has given up on plans to lay wires under its tracks.
"There was an interest in pursuing a partnership with telecommunications companies," he said, "but that was abandoned several years ago, and there's been no interest since."
A freight yard in Hialeah, said Mr. Henriques, is a huge asset to Miami-Dade County. "That large track adjacent to the airport has significant value and can accommodate huge amounts of cargo," he said. "We may look at alternatives."