Elevated rail system speeds passengers from the Miami International Airport to its Rental Car Center. Carroll McCormick reports.
Life for passengers using Miami International Airport (MIA) became a lot easier on September 9 with the opening of the 1.25 mile (2km) automated MIA Mover. With it, passengers can quickly move from the heart of the airport, near Terminal E, to the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) Station, adjacent to the airport’s massive Rental Car Center (RCC).
The MIA Mover – a people-moving system capable of carrying 3,000 passengers an hour – is a free convenience for travellers and replaces the shuttle bus fleet connecting the airport and RCC. The RCC, which opened in July 2010, is a consolidation of what was previously a nightmare of 50 sprawling acres (20.2ha) worth of car rental companies around the airport; the RCC covers 20 acres (8.1ha), has room for 6,500 cars, holds 16 car rental companies and is designed to serve up to 28,000 passengers a day.
“From plane to train to car – that’s basically it. It makes it so much easier for our passengers,” says Marc Henderson, Media Relations Manager/Community Relations Coordinator, Security and Communications Division at Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD).
MIA discontinued the shuttle bus operation, which ran 1,400 trips per day, when it opened the MIA Mover. The airport reports that traffic at the airport is now 30% less compared to the pre-MIA Mover days. “There is a 15% reduction in emissions,” Mr Henderson adds.
Another environmental highlight is that the MIA Mover Station was built in accordance with the guidelines of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. LEED is an internationally recognised certification system for new and refurbished buildings that have minimised their environmental impact, both during their construction and in use. The MIA Mover Station consumes 30% less water, uses native plants for the landscaping to minimise watering and has 15% lower energy costs – examples of features that contribute to obtaining LEED Gold certification.
Initiatives for the MIA Mover that contributed to LEED status include contractors recycling more than 85% of the construction debris. Twenty per cent of the material used for the MIA Mover were extracted, processed or manufactured within 500 miles (800km) of the site.
A spokesperson from contractor Odebrecht also reports that: “The project is using renewable energy credits that will make up for 70% of the station’s energy consumption for two years, supporting the development of renewable energy options such as wind, solar and geothermal. About 780 megawatt hours are being negotiated with estimates that the MIA Mover will prevent the emission of approximately 468 tons [425 tonnes] of CO2 into the atmosphere.”
Parsons-Odebrecht Joint Venture won the design-build-operate contract, worth US$259 million; $35 million of this was granted to local small businesses. The project is funded mainly through the MDAD capital improvement program. Miami-Dade County contributed $170 million. The Florida Department of Transportation contributed $100 million towards the guideway, foundations and the MIC and MIA stations.
The Parsons-Odebrecht Joint Venture was responsible for the design and construction of the MIA Mover Station at the airport and the design and construction of the entire MIA Mover system infrastructure, guideway, vehicles and train systems along with over 100 suppliers and subcontractors, to the tune of 1.2 million man hours of work. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries built the eight Crystal Mover automated people mover (APM) vehicles. The same APMs are also in use at MIA’s North Terminal and airports such as Atlanta and Dulles in the US, Incheon in Korea, Hong Kong, Dubai, and the Changi and Sengkang/Punggol airports in Singapore.
During peak service, the vehicles will leave the MIC Station and the MIA Mover Station every two minutes and take just 80 seconds to travel between the airport’s third-level moving walkways on the one end, and the fourth level of the RCC between the customer service lobby and the Miami Central Station on the other end.
Construction began in September 2008, and, said Odebrecht project executive Luiz Simon: “The schedule was a challenge in that a transportation project that would normally require over four years had to be designed, constructed, tested and put into service in only three years. Without the teamwork and collaboration with our client, partners and owner’s consultants, we would not have achieved such results.”
The MIA Mover passed its final hurdle: a 30-day, 24-hour-a-day complete systems operational test, with over 99.5% system availability. The contribution of the MIA Mover to passenger comfort will be enormous. “Until recently, one of the most painful aspects of travelling to Miami was the process of renting a car,” Mr Simon explained. “With the opening of the Rental Car Center, and now the MIA Mover, airport passengers can simply walk from the terminals to the MIA Mover Station and travel two minutes to rent a car.”
The MIA Mover is intended to be a bold architectural statement. The guideways, which range from between 45 and 50ft (13.7 and 15.2m) above the ground, are supported on nearly 60 single- and double-pier supports. The guideway spans are supported by almost 170 pre-cast concrete beams that were fabricated in Orlando and transported via truck to the site. Averaging 120ft long and 6ft tall (36.6m long by 1.8m tall) and weighing 72 tons (65.32 tonnes), contractors lifted the beams in place using two 350-ton (317.5-tonne) capacity cranes and bolted them together.
Mr Simon gave an insight into the challenge of managing a construction site that crossed major roads in an area that teemed for three years with cranes, excavators, pile drilling rigs, concrete trucks and associated trucks for workers, material and equipment. “The job site was more than 1.2 miles [1.9km] long and was parallel and crossed the main entrance to one of the busiest airports in the world. The airport never closes and traffic entering and exiting MIA could not stop. Maintenance of traffic was like the choreography of a dance. The project was unique in that 75,000 cars drove through our construction site every day.”
All of this work was achieved with a perfect safety record. Parsons-Odebrecht recently earned the USA’s top safety recognition: Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It is Florida’s first construction project and only the second construction project in OSHA’s eight-state Region IV to achieve VPP Star status. The VPP recognises projects that incorporate outstanding safety and health programmes implemented through active training programmes, vigorous self-inspections, well-established and respected procedures, and promotion of a deep-rooted safety culture.
THE MIA Mover is one of several pieces of a puzzle which, once assembled, will link many transportation modes in Miami and reduce traffic at MIA by 30%: The MIA Mover speeds passengers from the airport’s MIA Mover Station to the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) Station, adjacent to the airport’s Rental Car Center, in which all of the airport’s rental agencies are now consolidated.
The station adjacent to the MIC, for Miami-Dade Transit’s AirportLink connection and the MIC’s Miami Central Station (MCS), is scheduled for completion in spring 2012. The MCS itself is due to be completed in 2013. This will be Miami-Dade County’s first ground transportation hub, providing passengers with connections to services that include the following: Miami-Dade Transit’s Metrobus; Tri-Rail, a heavy-rail system that serves Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties; Amtrak; Greyhound; taxi and other forms of private transportation.