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Will Plans to Change Cargo Ship and Train Access Affect Florida Truck Accident Rates?

New plans by the government could improve the economy in Florida while also possibly helping to prevent Florida truck accidents. A new government plan will divert some cargo traffic from trucks to a Florida East Coast Railway line that runs between Hileah and the Port of Miami. The move – slated to cost millions – could remove up to 5% of truck traffic between the cities and could reduce downtown Miami traffic by 1.4%. Since heavy traffic is considered a contributing factor to both Florida car accidents and truck accidents, one can’t help but wonder whether the move will help reduce collisions.

Changes to the railway line could be finished by 2012, thanks to a $22.7 million grant from the government and a further $10.9 million from the Florida Department of Transportation. Miami-Dade County will contribute $4.8 million to the project. The rail will help to get rid of 60 000 truck trips each year between Miami and Dodge Island.

The Miami Access Tunnel project is also underway. The two tunnels now being constructed will connect the port of Miami to Watson Island. This project, too, will help remove some truck traffic and other types of traffic from Miami. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, 16 000 vehicles each day travel through Miami’s downtown to get to or from the port. This includes about 4, 480 cargo trucks, or about 28% of all traffic. Each year, this amounts to 1.16 million trucks and 4.16 million vehicles traveling in the downtown area due to the Port of Miami. Diverting some of that traffic could have an impact on traffic and therefore the risk of collisions.

Experts believe that up to 80% of passenger cars traveling from the Port of Miami and to the area can start to use the Miami Access Tunnel once that is completed. However, there are plans underway to make Miami and Florida in general a cargo capital, and there are concerns that this could mean more traffic in the area over the long term. When the Panama Canal expands in 2014, more cargo and larger ships could eventually start heading for Florida. Experts believe that by 2015 and 2016, the Port of Miami will start to see a large increase in the number of cargo ships destined for the port.

So far, no research has been published about how the changes in the Panama Canal may affect truck traffic or Florida truck accident rates across the state. The construction of the Miami Access Tunnel and the changes to divert more traffic to railways may help to offset some of the traffic, but hopefully more research will be done to determine the effects of the changes on overall traffic and traffic accident rates.


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