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Front Page » Transportation » Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit plan firmed up

Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit plan firmed up

Written by on February 14, 2017
Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit plan firmed up

Miami-Dade officials have just mapped out their overarching Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) plan, eliminating some key unknowns, but are still analyzing where to find money to fund its six corridors. For the first time, now plans include price tags, up to $3.6 billion.
Commission Chair Esteban Bovo Jr.’s Policy Council Committee, which he said was set up to discuss such pressing priorities, including transportation, met for the first time last week. For transportation, it’s important to speak about funding, Mr. Bovo said. “We already have a plan but need to know how to pay for it.”
Transportation chief Alice Bravo provided an overview of corridors and estimated cost, for the first time filling in major blanks of the SMART Plan. A key decision appears to be the mode of transit along each corridor.
As spelled out, corridors and their modes are:
■Miami Beach, a 3.3-mile elevated Metromover from Miami’s Museum Park Station to Fifth Street and Alton Road in Miami Beach.
■East-West, a 10-mile at-grade, partially elevated Metrorail extension mainly along State Road 836 from the Miami Intermodal Center to Florida International University.
■Kendall, a 10-mile, at-grade Metrorail along the Kendall Drive median from the Turnpike to the Dadeland North Metrorail Station.
■North, a 9.5-mile, at-grade Metrorail extension along the Northwest 27th Avenue median from 215th Street to the Martin Luther King Jr. Metrorail Station.
■Northeast, a 14-mile, at-grade commuter rail in the Florida East Coast Railway corridor from downtown Miami to Aventura using existing tracks.
■South, a 20-mile, at-grade Metrorail extension along the existing transitway.
For a fast track, with all corridors moving forward immediately in two to six years, available capital in 2017 dollars, the cost is $3.6 billion, Ms. Bravo estimated, with no federal funds, $896 million from the state and $350 million in existing People’s Transportation Plan value. That leaves a $2.34 billion gap.
A bit slower, with all corridors moving forward in three to five years and federally funded for three of the corridors at $906 million, $896 million from the state and $350 million in existing People’s Transportation Plan value, the total is $3.6 billion with a $1.43 billion funding gap.
On a slow track, with segments moving ahead as cash flow allows, $413 million in federal dollars, $488 million from the state and $350 million in existing People’s Transportation Plan value, cost would total $1.9 billion with a $702 million funding gap.
Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin proposed raising parking ticket fees to bring substantial SMART plan money. Historically, all cities had their own courts and issued their own tickets, Mr. Ruvin said, but new state law changed that. “The county does get money for parking but not fines.”
Miami-Dade ticket fees are well below state average, Mr. Ruvin said; his staff will work with the county attorney’s office on legislation to alter that.
State law regulates how much money from parking violations can be used, said a member of the county attorney’s office. Staff is trying to determine to what extent Miami-Dade could levy an added fine.

27 Responses to Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit plan firmed up

  1. DC Copeland

    February 15, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Using available train tracks is the way to go. Otherwise, elevated is the only way to go since putting mass transit at grade (sharing streets) only increases gridlock. As an example, when was the last time you saw rapid mass transit on the streets of NYC, London, Tokyo, etc? Not having enough money to pay for it shouldn’t mean cutting corners and not doing it right from the beginning. As for MetroMover running from Miami to Miami Beach over the MacArthur Cswy won’t solve the problem because the cars are too small and slow. MetroRail, on the other hand, would work. But why stop at 5th and Alton? Why not run it all the way to the Convention Center? Oh, right, money. Maybe it might be a good time to consider a plan that involves a private/public partnership which was not included in this “SMART” plan.

    • B

      February 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Unfortunately the E/W 836 line does not use the existing CSX tracks but rather puts new tracks on the expressway! A huge waste for a line with essentially zero walk shed…

  2. Thomas Lindhart

    February 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

    The metromover going to the beach is a great idea. Doing metrorail at grade on busy streets is going to be a complete failure and kill all reliability in the metrorail system which is its greatest advantage in a traffic choked city.

    • marc

      February 15, 2017 at 11:25 am

      How would a train at grade kill all reliability in the metrorail? The trains would have their own right of way and get priority over the cars and only stop at stations.

      • Thomas Lindhart

        February 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm

        Just look at the drawbridges in Miami. Cars try to outrun warning signals to stop and then the drawbridge must wait for those cars to clear. Metrorail will face the same exact problem.

        In addition, look at the deaths associated with the US1 busway and the Tri-Rail for the shape of whats to come. Preventing these accidents will come at the expense of speed and reliability.

      • waffles

        February 15, 2017 at 9:16 pm

        “own right of way and get priority over the cars” Buddy cars will be crashing into to them.

    • Mark-Anthony Barnes

      February 16, 2017 at 12:16 am

      It will either be a failure or a success. Whatever happens we can’t keep going the way we are currently. The beach route takes the light rail down Washington ave. To do this, all parking on the road will be eliminated. I estimate this to be no more than 300-400 spots. Given all the vehicles this light rail should help to eliminate, the loss of parking shouldn’t be too dramatic. I’m not sure Washington ave business owners will agree, at first anyway. Done right, a light rail, not ensnared in traffic all the time, and coupled with other infrastructure and amenity improvements, has the potential to make the city a world class destination while keeping it’s citizens happy and on the move. Personally, I hope future improvements include a major improvement to the Alton road flyover(tear it down and rebuild) and a miracle solution for encroaching waters and eroding sands.

  3. Fernando Cabrera

    February 15, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Metrorail at grade will only work for a small section running from the Intermodal to FIU (the part running alongside the airport) Otherwise at grade will not work. All planned lines demonstrate a need. The emphasis should be on the Southern and East-West lines, which would greatly diminish congestion and would address large population centers.

  4. Mike Hassall

    February 15, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Do you remember Alex Penelas pushing the 1/2 cent sales tax increase to pay for modernizing the transit system? Where did all that money go?

    Another boondoggle, like Marlins Stadium.

  5. ray

    February 15, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hard to know who to trust. Ex: Maritime Atty, then Comm. Sarnoff, insisted we needed the tunnel and that rail for cargo wasn’t a possible alternative since the tacks were damaged. Later I learned the tracks were damaged by Hurricane Andrew but the city refused to let Fl E. Coast Railway repair them, at railways cost, for decades … until, that is, the tunnel was signed and sealed and immediately afterward the trains were given the green light and now do transport containers directly from the port.
    Let’s hope this is a priority, for the public’s good and that their tax money is not diverted. At least for the waterfront area we have a good Commissioner, Russel, the exact opposite of his predecessor.

  6. Octavio Robles, Architect

    February 15, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Raise gasoline taxes and use the increment exclusively to build the system out at once and pay for it over 35-40 years. It’s has been almost 40 years that the original elevated Metrorail was built. I agree with those that believe that at grade lines along medians will not work, however, partially elevated lines that fly over major intersections might work. The northeast line to Aventura needs to be a partially elevated Metrorail line and not a separate commuter line. Metro mover to South Beach is perfect. The Beach may eventually expand it to the north. We need to think big. Think about building the six lines system ASAP and plan to add to it over the next 100 years when Miami will be huge, really huge.

  7. M Gleason

    February 16, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Thirty years late but better late than never. Trump digs rail, hates California, and loves Gov Scott so substantial Fed funding may well be available. MetroMover to the beach is unworkable for reasons stated by DC Copeland, above. Perhaps a light rail loop (Design District – Midtown – Wynwood – Arts & Entertainment – 5th & Alton – Convention Center – Julia Tuttle) would do the trick?

  8. Miguel

    February 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Hopefully they have considered flyovers at major intersections for the “grade” Metrorail extensions. E-W Dolphin Expressway and Kendall drive corridors are long overdue. However, Kendall Drive corridor should extend to western edges, say 137 Ave, as a terminus at the Turnpike will not solve major traffic congestion west to Krome Ave.

    Metromover extension to the beach should work as long as it will be a 2-car minimum for each Mover. Miami Beach should build Metromover extension with their own funds along whatever path they feel would best serve their residents.

    The commuter rail along the northeast corridor should align with the long-term FEC railway Tri Rail project. That railway will be busy with Brightline and Tri Rail trains running along the US-1 corridor.

  9. Anonymous

    February 16, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Metromover serves Greater Downtown Miami, so it makes no sense to expand it to Miami Beach. It’s going to be elevated in the first place, so cost differences would be minimal using Metrorail. For three to six billion, it is worth it, and costs can be cut elsewhere. It’s not like a tunnel is being proposed over traffic at one bridge, or the airport wants citizens to fund renovating a perfectly fine terminal, only to demolish it about a decade later. Also, the line will certainly see a lot of usage, and needs the greater capacity which Metrorail offers.

    Why the hell do we need the Metrorail to expand further south into Homestead? Some routes have considerable overlap, and should be spaced out where they’re building from scratch.

    What happened to the idea of a streetcar?

    • Charlie

      February 22, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Anonymous,

      I can’t disagree with you more. As someone who lives in Miami Beach but often times visits downtown or Brickell- the extension of the metromover to Miami Beach would be amazing.

      The streetcar idea across the causeway is no good because then you need to change modes of transportation- which is a mass transit killer.

  10. Jas33131

    February 16, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    This is incredible. Just months ago Metrorail was “too expensive,” and now we have a plan for massive expansion of this excellent mode. I agree at-grade isn’t great, and elevation would be best. I don’t understand why the NE corridor would not merit a Metro expansion as well. Biscayne is in desperate need of it — it could be double-decked rail along FEC without any nimby issues since it’s already track, and in some of our densest areas. Built it. Now!

  11. Miami citizen

    February 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Here we go again, Miami citizens taken for a ride. We have been paying for this since 2003 with 0.5% tax increase. You can read all about it here (from their own website):

    or google Miami Dade PTP, when are we going to learn and do something about it.

  12. Robert

    February 16, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Fellow taxpayers, please google, rail is not a trafffic solution, the trend is towards uber and driverless cars. Ridership on our current system is dismal, and getting worse, going long 6 billion dollars for a rail system, we need that money for sea level rise. Gondolas are interesting and have worked well in other cities. Please google. Rail equals fail.

    • Julio

      February 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      This is just so false. Rail provides the capacity that no other urban mode does. Uber and driverless cars can patch the outskirts and missed areas of the network, but rail moves far more people, faster.

      If you’ve got 400 people on a Metrorail train along Kendall Drive headed downtown, they’re in one vehicle in the dedicated right of way. If those 400 people are in Ubers/driverless cars, you’re adding hundreds of vehicles to the gridlock. Does anybody think we need more of that?

      • orleans

        February 18, 2017 at 2:38 am

        I agree with Julio. Uber is NOT public transportation. Plus uber means cars on the road, not just cars with passengers, but empty cars wandering around till passengers book them. And ridership is not dismal. Metrorail going to UM is always full. A Biscayne line all the way to the Broward Line- or even better, to the FLL airport, would be fantastic.

    • Rog in Miami Gardens

      February 18, 2017 at 6:56 pm

      Not really. The only thing that Uber and, so-called “driverless” cars could alleviate is the need for parking, but between destination points, they will not help congestion at all. In fact, those modes could potentially make congestion worse!

    • John

      February 19, 2017 at 8:47 am

      It looks like Robert has never had to ride the metrorail during morning and afternoon rush hours between downtown and the northern and southern terminus of the line. The service is heavily used (i use it everyday) and can tell you that all riders wish for better point to point connectivity and a reduction in the driving distance necessary to get to the existing stations (i.e expansion is needed). Get out of here with that notion that Uber is now somehow going to solve our transportation needs. Mass transit is the only current viable solution to address traffic congestion. The expansion of roads, developments that encourage more sprawl to the outskirts of the county instead of transit oriented development along existing dense corridors, and the use of anything that invites more cars to be on the road (Uber) only encourages more gridlock and loss of productivity.

  13. Roy from Miami Springs

    February 18, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Isn’t that what absent M. Rubio is supposed to be doing in Washington, not running for president, but fighting to get fed dollars for mass-transit in South florida? – and why wait to do all of that at once, start one at the time, like the Metro-Mover loop to Miami Beach from Museum Park station.

  14. Esteban Perez

    February 20, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Make all of the red lines elevated Metro rail. Put a metro rail station at FIU. “Panther station” – Very much needed. 20,000 + out of state students want to ride downtown and to the beach from FIU/West Miami.

    The baylink, extend the metro mover all the way to 5th and Collins or even Ocean drive. Don’t just stop at Alton. That is useless.

    They should start working now with the ones that are easy. East-West corridor to FIU.

  15. Alice Garcia

    February 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    An East/West corridor to FIU has been long over due. Thank goodness it is happening with an FIU station. The West Kendal corridor as well. Not so thrilled with the ” at grade ” with too many crazy drivers. Elevated or partial elevation at those grade intersections would be great. Hoping the new metro rail trains look modern and cool with a slight bullet nose. I saw the new designs and they just look the same. metro mover cars need a modernization look too.

    The baylink to Miami beach with the metro mover is a great idea, but it should not only stop at Alton and 5th. It should have another stop at collins and 5th. Closer to Ocean drive and the beach.

  16. Hugo

    February 23, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Honestly, I don’t mind having rail at grade, I just don’t want it to be interrupting traffic. If they could make dedicated lanes for rail and not interrupt anything then I am game.

  17. Richard

    March 15, 2017 at 10:13 am

    The East/West Kendall corridor is way over due as the city continues expanding in that direction and there is no other public method of transportation for commuters to get to Dadeland Train Stations, but by bus, which of course is subjected to traffic conditions. There is not even a trolley or bike rental system in place in Kendall, as in existence in other areas of Miami, to facilitate the way in which commuters can reach the Metrorail stations so the residents in this area can take advantage of the benefits of this wonderful transportation system.