Miami speeding to get streetcars rolling
Written by John Charles Robbins on October 1, 2014
A resurrected plan to run streetcars downtown has Miami commissioners pushing hard to improve transit.
Monday, they unanimously urged the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization and Florida Department of Transportation to make streetcars a number-one priority and to find funds to do it, at an estimated price of $200 million.
The city’s chief transportation manager, Carlos Cruz-Casas, said residents ask him nearly every day what the city is doing to deal with horrible traffic congestion.
“My answer is: smart planning,” said Mr. Cruz-Casas as he began a presentation to commissioners about the streetcar project, first floated in 2006 but put on hold when the economy nosedived.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff brought it up again a few weeks ago, saying now is the time to again advance the project.
With a daytime population of more than 220,000, downtown is growing and congestion levels keep increasing, Mr. Cruz-Casas said.
Although the city and county have added buses, rubber-wheeled trolleys and a rail link to the airport, more connections are vital, he said.
“We need to continue to connect the dots,” Mr. Cruz-Casas said.
Lack of mass transit is a prevalent complaint, said Commissioner Francis Suarez, who called the current system hodge-podge.
“It would be a dereliction of duty for us to do nothing,” he said. The time for excuses is over, he said; “it’s time to think big.”
Commissioner Frank Carollo said, “Transit is a big issue all over.” He said he wants connections to areas like Little Havana, Flagami and Allapattah.
Commission Chair Wifredo “Willy” Gort agreed. From Allapattah to Coral Gables, he said, “we need to link the neighborhoods.”
The 2006 plan called for streetcars from Government Center to the Design District and the Civic Center.