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Front Page » Top Stories » Plans for Metrorail line headed north may be going south

Plans for Metrorail line headed north may be going south

Written by on April 28, 2020
Plans for Metrorail line headed north may be going south

At least one prominent Miami-Dade official is having second thoughts about pursuing a northern Metrorail extension, citing figures from a new report that favor two cheaper, easier alternatives.

County Commission Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson said she saw “nothing but issues” with building new Metrorail, which transportation decision-makers here chose last year to serve a 9.5-mile stretch along Northwest 27th Avenue to the Broward County line.

Elevated Metrorail, endorsed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), is estimated to cost $1.9 billion, making it by far the most expensive mode examined for the corridor.

During talks last week over the report county transportation staff wrote with infrastructure design consultant HNTB, Ms. Edmonson said the county should reconsider previously discarded automated people mover and monorail options.

“It seems everything FDOT is recommending we are finding issues with,” she said. “People mover, as well as the monorail, has jumped into the picture [with] advantages.”

She said she would support the wishes of Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district encompasses the corridor, but “something to me just doesn’t sound right in that.”

The county report said Metrorail’s infrastructure-intensive requirements, larger right-of-way needs and limited flexibility ramp costs up significantly compared to the two alternatives.

Annual operations and maintenance for Metrorail, costing $40 million to $60 million, are potentially double that of monorail or people mover, which each would cost $25 million to $35 million yearly in upkeep.

Many have spoken to the merits of a one-seat ride between Kendall and the northernmost point of the county, but a mode separate from Metrorail would be more flexible, carrying comparable passenger totals by running more frequently, staff wrote.

Monorail and people mover’s smaller, lighter vehicles could also handle tighter turns and would require less right-of-way acquisitions due to less infrastructure needs.

Buses on the corridor now take 29 minutes end to end, carrying 400 passengers hourly at 15-minute intervals. That capacity could triple, staff wrote, if buses ran every five minutes.

Metrorail, at nine-minute peak intervals, could carry 3,000 passengers hourly at full capacity along the corridor, with 19-minute trips from end to end.

People mover in the same time could carry 1,600 passengers hourly at 7½-minute intervals and 2,500 passengers per hour with even shorter intervals.

Monorail would take 20 minutes, carry up to 1,600 hourly at 5½-minute intervals and up to 2,500 an hour with less wait between trips. 

The report noted potential savings for all three elevated modes. Moving the line slightly eastward alone, staff wrote, could save up to $10 million in construction. And by reducing initial fleet size and ordering more over time to meet demands, the county could save $20 million to $30 million.

Altogether, the changes could cut Metrorail cost to $1.75 billion, monorail to $1.4 billion and people mover to under $1.2 billion.

Transportation staff are at work on a bid request for the corridor.

“After we come to that point,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III said, “if we find something [better] than heavy rail, we would come back [and] change the locally preferred alternative.”

14 Responses to Plans for Metrorail line headed north may be going south

  1. Michael

    April 29, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Another factor to consider is inter-connectivity. If they go with the Metrorail option, the new line is a spur from the existing system, so that that trains can seamlessly switch from one line to the other, just as is done with the airport line. If they go with a different type of technology, they’ll have to modify the existing station, I guess Northside, or build a new one. Plus, that means having to wait at the transfer station.

    It could be that one of the alternative options becomes more attractive, but there are pros and cons to each.

  2. Gerwyn Flax

    April 29, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    It’s Miami Dade county, so it will automatically be the cheapest possible solution while smaller developing cities with foresight, are investing in more cutting edge technology. Can you imagine-Edmonson would like to consider discarded people movers? Obviously she and many of her colleagues haven’t ridden the “people movers”. Small, uncomfortable, slow moving contraptions that circle downtown and harbor criminals. Anything short of Metrorail (which has been promised for years) should be the monorail.

  3. Sean

    April 29, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Here we go again. Another study. Another delay. Higher costs. There is not enough density on the line and I cannot understand why this is even being considered. The best option is grade level, dedicated lane light rail or bus lane. Perhaps elevate main intersections to minimize the traffic impact. Also some light rail trains are compatible with heavy rail lines. Just look at Boston. Just get this done in our lifetime.

    • Mark-Anthony Barnes

      May 19, 2020 at 11:49 am

      Sean if there was ever a corridor with enough density it definitely would be the NE one connecting to the golden Glades. Some 200K to 250K+ commuters take 95 into Miami Going to and from from Broward County daily. The overwhelming majority of them are travelling by car. Give these commuters a faster way of getting into the downtown core that doesn’t require them to do multiple transfers (and hopefully offers some type of AM / PM express Service) and I can promise you that that line would very likely become the most popular line in the county. Mono rail and movers can not offer the type of connectivity that can get commuters from the golden glades to downtown Miami in 30 minutes or less (with express service).

      Also, 29 minutes from the glades to go 9.5 miles On the bus currently? When were they doing the study for that one, Sunday at 4pm? It can take up to an hour during rush hour , maybe 45 if nothing bad has happened on 95. Let’s get this done. Metro Rail is the only thing that makes sense that can get commuters from the glades into downtown fast as lightning. Anything else is probably destined to become a dissatisfying debacle and costly disappointment.

      • Michael

        May 20, 2020 at 4:45 pm

        It isn’t justifiable to build premium transit just because of the vast quantity of single-occupant vehicles. Very many people drive because the housing density doesn’t support transit, the area is generally exclusive use (i.e., residential or commercial, but not mixed), and it’s developed for easy automobile ingress and egress, to the detriment of the pedestrian.

        In order for the area to support transit, it has to be pedestrian-oriented. Transit riders are first pedestrians before they board vehicles. If it’s commuter rail, then it doesn’t always pay to run it all day.

  4. Linda

    April 30, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    I am very interested about the metrorail situation can you tell me if the plans instead of North will be changing to SW Miami Dade.Or they are likely not doing it at all?

  5. Monique barley

    May 1, 2020 at 5:11 am

    Why do we have the most incompetent officials?

  6. Julio Ruiz MD

    May 1, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    We have had the most incompetent, self serve politicians in Miami-Dade throughout the years. It’s like the story of how many politicians it takes to change a light bulb. How many studies do you need? There has to be a secondary gain by someone with so many studies. Many years back you had a plan for Metrorail all the way to FIU on SW 107 Ave. Never heard from that plan again. Politicians in Miami-Dade never had a vision for transportation, traffic, nor do they care for their community. They only care about their own perpetuation in public office.

  7. Frank Gentner

    May 1, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    South Dade needs an ABOVE GROUND fast transportation to link from Kendall southward to Homestead, Florida City, and a spur to the Miami-Homestead Speedway to operate when races are on. ABOVE GROUND is needed to keep high speed NE to SW traffic from blocking East to West traffic that crosses the old FEC Railroad / Busway line. Such an extension would allow workers to commute from lower rent areas to Miami businesses in 20-30 minutes instead of the usual hour. If elevated, the East-West traffic will be more efficient than the frequent stops for the Busway. Also, if this South Dade to Kendall extension goes through, then one could take the metro all the way from Homestead/Florida City and South Dade to the Airport without having to drive and park. Make the Miami-Dade Metro seamless from South to North with one fast, above-ground mode of transportation!

  8. TransitDave

    May 1, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    When you need metrorail, nothing else will do. And, Miami needs metrorail, particularly the north corridor, which is sure to be popular with commuters from broward.

  9. Antonio Alfonso

    May 2, 2020 at 9:25 am

    its MIami dade County !!!! i have lived here since 1971 nothing is going to change forget Metro rail or any other form of transportation what we need to do is get rid of the incompetence at city hall .

  10. Linda

    May 2, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    South West Miami Dade needs an extension from Dadeland South to Florida City.It would eliminate a lot of traffic and it seems we are forgotten.

  11. Malcolm

    May 9, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    I”m sorry but this is ridiculous. We can spend billions of dollars widening our highway but be cant do the same for transit lines? This is sad. Expanding MetroRail to the county line is the best option. The way you save cost is by having good Station design and accessibility. Every stations should be designed above 27th Avenue. That should eliminate the need for take up so much land. Work with developers to built Transit Oriented Development that also incorporates parking. This would reduce the Cost too. Design the stations to have retail space at the bottom.

  12. Beatriz bondy

    June 13, 2020 at 4:26 am

    Estoy de acuerdo con usted.
    Que se ponen de lluvia en paradas sin techo. O desmayen de calor, sin techo ni asientos y esperando más de una hora por un bus que luego pasa con cartel ” fuera de servicio”!