David Dech is beginning this week as executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), which operates the Tri-Rail commuter rail service that links Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Mr. Dech started in the railroad industry in 1995 as a brakeman and switchman at CSX Transportation, on the freight side. He rose as trainmaster, assistant terminal superintendent, assistant vice president of transportation, and assistant vice president for passenger operations. He moved to Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, among others.
In 2018 he went to CapitalMetro, in Austin, TX, as vice president of rail operations until this month. He was responsible for leading the team to complete the Positive Train Control System (PTC), a safety technology to prevent collisions and derailments that is mandated industry-wide by the federal government.
“When I started in 2018, there were nine months to go to qualify for the extension, and we were pretty far behind. [But] not only did we qualify for the extension, but we also ended up being certified four months ahead of the federal deadline,” he said. “That was probably the single most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my career.” At the same time, Mr. Dech led work to complete a downtown station in Austin and construct five doubletrack sidings for passing.
He will be overseeing completion of important projects such as Tri-Rail’s link to downtown Miami station, future mobility needs for the tri-county area, and potentially the Northeast Corridor operations.
Mr. Dech spoke with Miami Today reporter Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow.
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