Miami To Seek Private Partner For Streetcars
Written by Risa Polansky on May 10, 2007
By Risa Polansky
Miami city administrators hope to develop a $200 million streetcar project as a public-private partnership, taking cues from European governments.
"The financing vehicle they use to deliver a lot of their facilities has not been used in the United States at all," said Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring. "In this structure, there are safeguards built in, a way for governments to control and share the risks with developers of projects."
Mr. Spring, along with city operations director Mary Conway and assistant transportation coordinator Lilia Medina, met last month in Paris and Madrid with government representatives, international streetcar experts and potential partners to plan what they hope will become a jointly funded transit system designed to relieve congestion in Miami’s quickly developing urban core.
The trip, Ms. Medina said, could yield investors and contractors once the project is approved.
Should the city commission pass enabling legislation in the fall — pushed back from a May target date — city staffers would issue a request for proposals to construct, operate and maintain the project.
A schedule published last month forecasts that a contract will be awarded in December 2008 with the streetcar opening in December 2011.
In addition to the financial support administrators hope to garner if the commission approves a public-private partnership model, officials plan to fund the city’s share through revenues and interest generated by the streetcar system and with transportation sales tax revenue and federal grants.
The system is designed to connect downtown activity centers, businesses and residential communities. Its proposed route runs east of the Miami River, serving Government Center through the Entertainment District, Wynwood, Midtown Miami, the Design District, Overtown and the Civic Center area.