County panel OKs $2.2 billion in transportation projects
By Suzy Valentine
A Miami-Dade County committee has approved $2.2 billion in state-funded transportation work that's to get into gear in 2007.
The Florida Department of Transportation presented its tentative five-year work program, through 2011, before the Metropolitan Planning Organization Governing Board on Dec. 8. The county is receiving almost half of the $4.5 billion that is to be spent statewide.
Beneficiaries of the funding include the proposed Port of Miami tunnel, the Miami International Airport Central Boulevard project and the State Road 826 interchange at Southwest 40th Street.
Funding allocations include:
Project support, $406 million.
Upgrades and maintenance, $181 million.
Administration, $2.6 million.
Paybacks on loans, $180 million.
Local government paybacks, $5.7 million.
State Implementation Plan loan repayments, $12.5 million.
"The schedule is to seek endorsement from this board," said District Secretary John Martinez, "incorporate our plan into a statewide plan by January 2006 and have this presented to the Legislature in March 2006 with the approval of the Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust in May 2006."
Mr. Martinez explained the status of a planned hub close to Miami International Airport that is to connect several modes of transportation.
"One of the projects included in our tentative program is the Miami Intermodal Center," he said. "The foundation work is on schedule and almost completed. The master planning of the central station is nearing completion and station is to be completed in early 2008."
Port tunnel procurement, Mr. Martinez said, should begin in the spring.
"The Port of Miami tunnel has $177 million, including the $100 million from the (county's General Obligation) Bond program," he said. "We had the port tunnel forum on Monday. We're looking at different ways of financing and whether it's a 10-, 25-, 50- or 90-year lease. Probably procurement will be in April 2006, maybe a little bit later. Completion should be about eight years from then, probably 2014."
In a separate project, Mr. Martinez said he is meeting with the contractor that is working on Northwest 25th Street parking to negotiate cost reductions.
"It came in much higher than budgeted," he said. "I'll be meeting with the contractor to "see if there is any way to go forward with that project. If not, we may have to break it up into two smaller projects to get much better competition. My take is that it is a huge project. A lot of the contractors are very busy with all of the work from the hurricanes. We need to break it into smaller pieces so we can get better competition."
Further work is planned on Biscayne Boulevard.
"We plan improvements between Northeast Fifth and Northeast 87th streets," he said. "Improvements between Northeast 13th and Northeast 15th streets should be in construction in 2006 and it's being coordinated with the people from Miami Performing Arts Center."