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Front Page » Transportation » Planners sidetrack streetcar plan

Planners sidetrack streetcar plan

Written by on October 29, 2014

Plans for a streetcar in Miami’s urban core were temporarily sidetracked after a county transportation board postponed supporting the project.

The Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) last week deferred an endorsement as board members were supportive and yet concerned the streetcar project might roadblock other planned transportation modes.

“I am still very excited about this project as long as it doesn’t compete with all of the other projects that’s in the hopper,” said board member Audrey Edmonson.

For one, Miami-Dade is working toward countywide bus rapid transit. The county and Miami Beach are collaborating on a downtown-Miami Beach transit link, referred to as Bay Link. And recently, a proposal called for study of a gondola connecting major destinations such as Marlins Stadium and Florida International University.

“I think that what we need to do is we really need to have an opportunity to sit down and look comprehensively at our transportation system,” said board member Dennis Moss. “What’s happening now is we have those bits and pieces floating around.”

The MPO, established under a federal requirement, oversees countywide transit projects. Its backing of transportation proposals by municipalities is, for the most part, imperative for the future of these projects. The MPO lists future transit projects in order of priority.

While the City of Miami’s request stopped short of asking for the streetcar to be a top priority, the city wanted the MPO to urge the Florida Department of Transportation to fund $100 million, or 50%, of the streetcar’s projected capital cost.

“If we are going to have a $100 million for a streetcar system there, then we would like to have $100 million for the City of Miami Beach because we’d like a streetcar system,” said Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who also sits on the MPO board. “Why are we putting the cart before the horse? The biggest regional issue that we have right now that affects our pocketbook is the MacArthur Causeway.”

Bay Link is to run over the MacArthur to alleviate causeway traffic. The project’s funding and logistics haven’t been worked out.

“When we are having conversations about transportation we get really territorial,” said MPO Vice Chairman Oliver G. Gilbert III. “We sit as a board. We talk about the county.”

City of Miami officials said they’re not trying to compete with Bay Link but merely alleviate growing congestion in Miami. Deputy City Manager Alice Bravo told the MPO board that other funding for the streetcars may come from a public-private partnership or the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

Miami recently resurrected the streetcar plan after the city put the brakes on the concept during the recession. The system’s 7-mile loop would link downtown Miami to neighborhoods to the north, including the Design District, Edgewater, Midtown, Overtown and Wynwood. Operating costs are projected at $7.5 million a year. According to city projections, the streetcar would draw 14,000 riders on a typical day.

It’s not clear when the MPO would reconsider the proposal.

7 Responses to Planners sidetrack streetcar plan

  1. Ben Grimm

    October 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    That was close! Bay Link and the Miami Streetcar are one and the same. A combo unit. And it doesn’t need to cost us $100 million (us who pay taxes, I mean). It can be a trolley bus that takes us from Bayside to South Beach to Midtown all in one evening of fun! Midtown and SoBe have buses and taxis to take us deeper and downtown has that and Metrorail/Metromover. Aside from making it cheaper to build and operate ($7.5 mil, right) trolley routes can be adjusted in case of construction or bypass streets with few or no riders.

    Vote NO for the Miami streetcar and YES to the Miami-Bay Link Trolley.

    • gregory

      October 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Miami and Miami Beach already have bus trolleys and they’re free. Thus taking away revenue that Miami-Dade buses could have earned. Miami Beach and Miami should scrap those free trolleys and make the county build a elevated train from Downtown to Miami Beach.

      • Ben Grimm

        December 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

        Miami Beach residents killed Bay Link. A light rail system between downtown and the beaches. No wanted an elevated system because that would mess up the SoBe vibe, understandably. But what really killed Bay Link was folks not wanting people from Overtown theoretically “invading” the Beach.

        Miami Beach did have a streetcar/light rail system in the 1920s. Folks could ride on electric streetcars from Miami Beach City Hall down Flagler Street westward to Coral Gables City Hall. Looks like the old timers knew something we seem to have forgotten.

  2. gregory

    October 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    How about a elevated rail from Downtown Miami ( starting at the government center) that goes to Miami Beach following the MacArthur Causeway and then runs along Miami Beach and then connects to Miami’s 36 street and goes south towards the Government Center. Unlike a streetcar or trolleybus that clogs up the streets.

  3. DC Copeland

    October 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Gregory is a visionary. Such a plan has been floating around on the Internet for at least 7-years and has been vetted by an engineer that built “them.” Click my name to see it. Of course the key thing here is not to mention the word “monorail” in any such discussion– as you did in your post– because that has a tendency to induce a roll of the eyes and deep guffawing. Which is hard to understand considering the Disney-style monorails use rubber tires instead of steel-on-steel which has a tendency to rust in our highly salt infused air and water. Plus, with Miami Beach’s ongoing fight against rising tides, you’d think they’d be for anything that isn’t effected by the high tides– unlike trollies and the like that ride at grade and, when they break down, become part of the problem of gridlock.

    • gregory

      November 4, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Exactly plus that solution knocks out four birds with one stone. It will connect Miami with the beach in two locations and connects the Design Distract, Wynwood, Midtown and Downtown. Plus it gives Miami Beach rail.

    • Ben Grimm

      December 5, 2014 at 11:08 am

      See “Bay Link” on the Interweb.