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Front Page » Top Stories » 23 apply to direct Miami-Dade Transit

23 apply to direct Miami-Dade Transit

Written by on February 16, 2021
23 apply to direct Miami-Dade Transit

Miami-Dade’s hunt for a new transportation and public works director continues.

Whether it’s one of the nearly two dozen candidates who have already applied or someone else the county’s nationwide search attracts, the ideal hire will prioritize resilience and multi-modality while seeing through projects already in development, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

“We want someone who can hit the ground running,” she told Miami Today. “We’ve made progress and want to accelerate it to create a truly world-class transportation system, one that is more resilient and connected to communities.”

Twenty-three applicants so far are vying to succeed Alice Bravo, who at the end of the month will leave her role as head of the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) for a district leadership position with engineering and design firm WSP, a frequent consultant to the county.

To find the right replacement, Ms. Levine Cava’s office has retained the services of Gabe Klein of urban planning firm CityFi.

“He’s helping us to do an organization-wide assessment across the department and is supporting the recruitment process,” she said.

Former Miami Beach city manager Jimmy Morales, whom Ms. Levine Cava hired in November to oversee eight major departments – DTPW, Aviation, Seaport, Water and Sewer, Regulatory and Economic Resources, Solid Waste Management, Elections and Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces – is the county’s point person in the effort.

Local knowledge is a plus for candidates, she said, but not prerequisite.

“We obviously need somebody who understands the challenges we face in improving our transportation system,” she said. “We need someone who is looking into the future for future alignment and ensuring we’re making investments that will last.”

After five years of studies, planning, meetings and designs, Miami-Dade is finally rounding the proverbial corner on the Smart Plan, a multibillion-dollar initiative to upgrade six major commuting routes with premium transit while adding nine new rapid bus corridors and local mobility solutions across the county.

Early this month, commissioners unanimously voted to begin construction of “gold standard” bus rapid transit on the longest and easiest to build of the six routes, the South Corridor between Kendall and Florida City. Revenue service for the route is expected to start in January 2023.

Major milestones for the remaining routes coming this year, Ms. Bravo said last week, include a final development agreement for the Beach Corridor that is to run from downtown Miami to Miami Beach; delivery of proposals by spring for the North Corridor from downtown Miami through Miami Gardens; federal funding applications by August for the East-West Corridor from downtown Miami to Tamiami; agreements with Brightline for the development of the Northeast Corridor from downtown Miami to Aventura; and selection of a locally preferred transit mode for the Kendall Corridor.

“Before the Smart Plan, we had different projects [that] were all kind of jockeying for position. Having a [40-year funding plan], you don’t have that competition between the projects, so they can all move forward in parallel,” Ms. Bravo told commissioners during a Feb. 9 presentation.

The Smart corridors and other transit upgrades are an opportunity for the county to regain ridership, and the county needs someone who recognizes that, the mayor said.

“We want to have these systems not only to serve those who depend on transit now,” she said. “We need people to be choice riders.”

Commissioners in May expect to give a final OK to the Better Bus Network, a county-wide redesign of Metrobus routes by advocacy group Transit Alliance Miami. The group delivered the plan last year, but each route requires individual approval.

Transit Alliance Director Azhar Chougle, who said he was “phasing out” of his role effective March 31, called the redesign “a dream come true” for the group and the riders it serves.

“Two years ago, when we started talking about this, it was just slides on a screen” he said by phone Tuesday, referring to a five-minute presentation about the bus network he gave in September 2018 at Ms. Levine Cava’s invitation that helped kick-start the project. “This is something that will change almost every transit rider’s life this year.”

The two aspects of the department – transportation and public works – are likely to remain intertwined due to their interdependence and the emphasis her administration is putting on sustainability, Ms. Levine Cava said.

“There’s a lot more than the transit system itself,” she said. “We’re looking at sea level rise – our sea level rise strategy is coming out in the next week or so – and at land use issues, where the hubs are, the urban centers, those things. It’s an integrated approach.”

Keeping both parts under the same roof will also ease work to make streets here safer and more hospitable to bicyclists and pedestrians – a personal issue for the mayor, whose husband, Dr. Robert Cava, suffered a broken arm in a hit-and-run.

That and other incidents, including the roadway death of triathlete Bharath Narahari near Black Point Marina three years ago, inspired Ms. Levine Cava, then a county commissioner, to create a committee aimed at ending bicycle and pedestrian accidents and fatalities here.

The next DTPW director, she said, will need to build on existing programs like safe streets initiative Vision Zero, micro-mobility projects like the one underway in Miami and boost pedestrian protection at intersections while adding accommodations for non-motorized travel.

“These are all things we’re working to more integrate with transit,” she said. “It includes pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as shared mobility that puts people, not cars, first.”

5 Responses to 23 apply to direct Miami-Dade Transit

  1. Charles A Littman

    February 17, 2021 at 9:39 am

    IT is about to get interesting, all of these planes are starting to come together! The bigger issue is the Tri rail type system on the Brighline tracks. This will be a game changer going up to Broward county and FLL.

  2. Gerwyn Flax

    February 17, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    The apparent emphasis on busses is the wrong approach. Until there is a commitment to efficient rail, transportation in Miami not achieve it full potential. Taking a bus is unappealing to most people needing transportation. The answer is not more busses. It is a waste of precious taxpayer funds, only to revert back to rail in the end. Build the proper system the first time, and be done with it.

  3. Awo

    February 18, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    A focus on buses is important because 70% of Transit trips are bus trips, buses are slow, infrequent, and circuitous. Improving the bus system can be completed in a revenue neutral way in about a year. No new train line will be ready to ride for at least another 6 years, even IF it gets federal matching funds.

  4. Rob

    February 18, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Need all routes back under miami dade transit the private company running them is pathetic ragged equipment Van’s and Busess always breaking down or not showing up to do the route

  5. Rail Junkie

    February 18, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    It will not get better until you hire efficient supervisors and stop hiring people who look good on paper but knows nothing about Rail, what works in others metropolis doesn’t work here. Promote from with in and stop stepping on our career employees with this do nothing blow hards