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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami Beach officials cool to downtown Miami transit link plan

Miami Beach officials cool to downtown Miami transit link plan

Written by on January 21, 2020
  • www.miamitodaynews.com
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Miami Beach officials cool to downtown Miami transit link plan

While Miami-Dade County may soon firm up a Miami Beach to downtown transit link, Miami Beach officials aren’t sold yet.

At last week’s Beach commission meeting, county transportation head Alice Bravo shared a preferred Beach Corridor plan based on a study by engineering firm Parsons: elevated rubber-tire vehicles – either an automated people mover or monorail – along the MacArthur Causeway, linking Downtown Miami to a proposed hub at Washington Avenue and Fifth Street. 

As part the 2016 Smart Plan, the county has been determining preferred transit for six corridors.

At the end of January, the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Governing Board is to vote on the locally preferred Beach Corridor mode. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, a voting member of the board, and city commissioners weighed in on the plan. 

While the TPO isn’t to vote on the corridor’s specific Miami stop, discussion revolved around the two pinpointed choices: Maurice A. Ferre Park, formerly Museum Park, or One Herald Plaza. The plaza is owned by Malaysian casino owner Genting, which proposed a monorail for the Beach Corridor. 

Since then, the county has started a bidding process for the corridor. In tandem with the solicitation, the county has continued with the Smart Plan process for the Beach Corridor. 

Mayor Gelber said that whether transit goes to Herald Plaza or Ferre Park is important to Beach residents, with a park stop potentially offering one-seat connection from the Beach to Government Center. Beach officials have opposed gambling establishments in connection with the Beach Corridor.

Consulting firm InfraStrategies, on behalf of the city, evaluated the county’s studies on the Beach Corridor. Managing Principal Jeffrey Boothe said that while light rail/streetcar was originally recommended because it would be better for ridership and could be expanded up the Beach, the option isn’t feasible. His firm recommended a one-stop people mover connecting Government Center and Washington Avenue at Fifth Street.

Responding to Mr. Gelber’s question why the vote is this month, Ms. Bravo said the county commission directed her to move all Smart Plan projects as “quickly as humanly possible” so the county can seek federal funds to take advantage of current elected leverage over federal transit funding. Mr. Gelber said he might ask to defer the vote a month to get more community input.

“I want to make sure I’m only voting on something I’m conformable with and the city, more importantly, feels comfortable with,” he said.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian emphasized a need for an integrated solution to address not just the Beach Corridor line but transportation tied to it. Mrs. Bravo said the county would provide additional resources; the study recommended a bus or trolley in dedicated lanes from Washington Avenue to the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Commissioner Ricky Arriola said if city elected officials drag their feet, they’ll lose the chance to seize on the county’s momentum. 

“I don’t know where we’re going to go with this,” he said, “but I really challenge us to make a decision on this and to finally see Baylink, or whatever we are going to call it, all the way through, because we need this.”

8 Responses to Miami Beach officials cool to downtown Miami transit link plan

  1. DC Copeland Reply

    January 22, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Way back in 2006-7, a two way dual-beam track Disney-style monorail Baylink proposal running along the MacArthur Cswy was floated among the powers-that-be (or were). Crickets.

    It ran from downtown, along the MacArthur (at grade on the south side to save money), rose along 5th St, and then ran north ON BEACH SAND (again to save money and to speed construction), curving west on 17th to the Convention Center Terminus (where the west parking lot was used as an ELEVATED maintenance station to save parking spaces below). Estimated cost at that time for the 8.6 mile run was around $400 million with the Feds picking up half. You can learn more at http://bit.ly/rrcFP6

  2. Mark-Anthony Barnes Reply

    January 24, 2020 at 4:46 am

    I’m sorry, but for a moment there it sounded awfully like the transit link, that is now being proposed, for Miami Beach will basically just an extension of the metro mover and include only one stop on the beach as it runs up and down the MacArthur and goes no where else? It’s also going to be elevated that entire length?

    County leaders please do not waste your time or waste tax payor money on that scheme. It’s just not worth it and will do little to mitigate traffic problems on the beach.

    Here are the reasons this should be put back in to the vault of good intentions.

    1. A terminus at 5th and Washington will require anyone north of the planned station (basically all of Miami Beach) to still hop on a bus, trolley, etc to get to it. Then your asking them to transfer to a metro mover which will be running how often? Every ten to fifteen minutes. In that 15 minute span the 120, the C, and the M have already made it to the Omni station and unloaded passengers, heck the 120 more often than not only takes 20-25 minutes to go from 5th and Washington to Government Center. If I’m on that bus why risk a transfer to a metro mover that may make my commute run twice as long if I have to wait for it’s arrival?

    Also, it risk creating a traffic nightmare should you have people decide it’s more convenient to ride share to the Miami Beach terminus than walk a few blocks or more, and then wait for a trolley that has to stop every other block on its way to the terminus. I see “traffic problems” and they ain’t in Jersey either.

    2. The 120 bus gets pretty packed at certain times of the day, but the S bus is almost always packed and, I’d wager, is the busiest route that runs through the beach. That said, their is no connection for S riders, again the busiest route on the beach and perhaps the busiest in the county to connect with this metro mover at Alton and 5th. That’s an awful lot of ridership that’s just left off the table.

    3. The cost: Again how many millions of dollars are we thinking of spending to basically extend the metro mover by ONLY one stop after running it along the MacArthur which, for the most part, is already the fastest part of the journey for transit riders on the beach heading to and from downtown.

    Also, we are going to have a transit hub at 5th and Washington? Exactly where at, or near, that intersection is the Miami Beach block of real estate that’s currently underutilized and or for sale that’s large enough to accommodate a hub that integrates north /south buses and trolleys and can also integrate a metro mover station? Add to this, the cost of developing such a station that beach residents will insist, if built, fits in with the south beach aesthetics, and wony arouse residents usual Nimbism for fear of a zone of loud buses, increased trash, and potentially a lot of people being dropped off at their front doors ( a none to unlikely scenario that will be created by having only one stop for everyone on the beach to get on and off from if they choose to ride the metro mover. That problem won’t be cheap to solve in the least bit.

    4. Why isn’t this thing going up washington, at the very least? To say their isn’t room is a lie given the already 2 lanes worth of space being used for parking along most of the corridor. if there were any corridor On the beach where planners could put such a thing without fear of a massive pushback It’d be the Washington Avenue corridor. It would also connect to the convention center which is nearly 15 blocks away from Washington.

    5. It’s comparable to the same stupidity that saw us extend metrorail to Hialeah 30 + years ago while conveniently leaving out the second largest economic driver in the county, Miami International Airport along with another corridor, NW 23 rd Ave, that would have provided as many as an additional 35 thousand daily riders to metro rail and a lot of money that’ would have come with such an increase in ridership. How much did it cost us to fix the Airport mistake? how much are we planning to spend to now fix the Nw 23 Ave Line that was meant to be built 30 years ago?

    6. The solution is already staring you in the face. There is talk of creating bus dedicated lanes on washington. Thats a good start, but imagine it a little differently and you may ask why not just do that all the way to the omni and while you’re at it include Biscayne Blvd and also westbound street in downtown to complement the already existing East bound dedicated bus lane on 1st Ave? For inspiration on what such a thing could look like on the beach I encourage readers to check out Downtown Orlando’s Lymmo Service which is a free, quiet electric bus that gets priority at traffic lights, runs along dedicated bus lanes throughout downtown Orlando which was the first in the nation to deploy such a system. its also very well integrated and actually improved the street scape when they built it 25 years ago see it here: https://brtdata.org/location/northern_america/united_states/orlando

    In leiu of anything going up to at least the convention center, nothing else makes sense and won’t garner my endorsement with out some very good convincing and data to support it. I won’t hesitate to use the power of the pen to see this idea changed to something better, much as I have in the past when my idea/solution for funding, and in support of, the deco bike was picked up by beach leaders and used to help the then just deployed bike sharing program survive its early years, or when I pushed back against a less than satisfactory design for the convention center posed by a former commissioner that had begun gaining traction, that is until I wrote the many reasons why it shouldn’t be.

    This possible extension of the metro mover is one instance where it is also a “shouldn’t be”

    But what to do?

    A better (radical?) solution would see the planned extension turned into a very large loop that, on south beach, went up Washington Ave , then Dade Blvd, then bisect the golf course that’s about to be turned into a city park over by Alton, and from there connects to 40th street as it goes up the Juliet Tuttle then turns left to go through midtown finally reconnecting to the metro mover in downtown before heading back to south beach again. Much like the downtown mover you would have an inner and outer loop that on the beach would move north on the outer loop and south on the inner loop. This wouldn’t just serve the beach but also provide the growing design district, wynwood, midtown, and edge
    water, neighborhoods along Biscayne, with better, hopefully faster, transit options and would remove the need for a lot of those residents in the fastest growing neighborhoods in the county, to have to drive into downtown or the beach thereby helping reduce traffic along the Biscayne Blvd corridor while providing many more destinations to visitors and both bayside and beachside residents and directly connects them to other modes such as metro rail.

    Now that’d be a solution I’d endorse, and if planned and communicated well to those living in the loop area, would very likely be endorsed by those residents as well.

    Sigh, it’s also a plan that makes way too much sense for it to be actioned upon by our leaders. Yet, I admit I was a little surprised by my deco bike solution being picked up and used as mentioned earlier.

    Here’s praying someone with authority in the county reads this. I’m looking at you Ms. Bravo.

    • Miami Resident Reply

      January 24, 2020 at 7:21 pm

      Please draw up some plans and voice your ideas up at the next meeting.

      Otherwise you are soley investing yourself in complaining rather than assisting.

  3. BFW Reply

    January 25, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Whatever mode is decided upon, ensure it has a “sloped nose” like an unwitting politician demanded for the Metrorail vehicles. The transportation world still snickers at the total and complete incompetence of planning and execution in South Florida. Parsons is $20 million richer rehashing old studies from the 80’s. Ferries would be more realistic in 2050 when the next round of multiple $50 million dollar studies are complete. I’m really surprised drones haven’t been considered yet…

  4. Alex Adams Reply

    January 25, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    The TPO Citizens Transportation Advisory Board voted 9-1 to REJECT the proposal for the Beach Corridor. This is because it will only benefit Genting Casinos. The proposal not only builds a new station in front of their property, it leaves the possibility for Genting to build a monorail vs connecting to an existing county transit type. We will never have efficient connectivity with minimal transfers of transit if we keep dividing the system’s types of services. No one will make 4+ transfers to go to the beach.

  5. Irene BG Reply

    February 4, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Please please Mark-Anthony Barnes, go to one of the public meetings and present your ideas! Or do a petition or similar for neighbors to sign! Your ideas are very clearly stated and make lots of sense. Hope you can be heard for real! best to you!

    • Mark-Anthony Barnes Reply

      February 11, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Hugs to you Irene! Thank you for the kind comments you shared. Let’s see what the cats at city hall are up to in the coming weeks. I LOVE the cats!!! 🙂 It really makes LOVE this city even more, I had wondered where they all went. They seem to be very happy!

  6. Daniel Teigman Reply

    February 20, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    As a New Yorker turned South Florida transplant I am in awe at the level of bureaucracy and sluggishness in getting Baylink completed. Granted, it’s not as bad as the Second Ave. subway project proved to be (although Grand Central’s East Side access for the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan is ongoing) but it’s bad enough.

    According to what little I know, Baylink or some version of it, was first proposed in 1989. More than a generation has passed and still, nothing. What a disservice to the residents of Miami and Miami Beach and the tourists who visit these incredible cities.

    When I first moved here and learned about the region’s mass transit systems -Metromover, MetroRail, Brightline, Tri-Rail- I was shocked to learn that Metromover did not extend to the beach. I immediately thought about my home town of Long Beach, NY. Geographically it is similar to Miami Beach, albeit oriented east-west along the South Shore of Long Island versus north-south as are the barrier islands here. Bal Harbour to South Pointe Park is a little over 9 miles on an island about 1 mile wide, while Atlantic Beach, NY to Point Lookout, NY is also 9 miles apart on an island 1 mile (at its widest) in width.

    The Long Island Rail Road has one stop in the City of Long Beach. It’s located in the approximate center of town and is part of the city’s intermodal complex of trolleys and buses that connect to the rest of the island. Fifth and Washington, while not the true “center” of the city, is a major focal point for tourists and residents alike.

    After more than 30 years, I urge both cities to finally bring this project to completion. Miami Beach’s existing bus network is sufficient for moving people around the barrier island, just as Long Beach, NY’s bus system transports its residents and tourists too.

    I for one, strongly endorse an extension of the metromover from either 11th Street along the MacArthur or from Adrienne Arsht with a connection to Museum Park station along the same route.

    As a side note, Albany, NY is contemplating a gondola system to connect downtown on the west side of the Hudson River to the city’s Amtrak station one mile away on the east side of the Hudson. Engineering studies suggest it is the most affordable way to bring a version of mass transit to the region.

    Has something like this ever been considered here? Or is the 4-mile distance too much for such a system? Or would it not handle enough volume? Curious to know if anyone has the answers to these questions.

    Regardless, I very much hope 2020 is the year where real progress is made on this long overdue project. If New York can bring the Long Island Rail Road to Long Beach (a destination which sees an enormous influx of summer day-trippers) Miami and Miami Beach can too.

    I look forward to the day I can finally ride this train!

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