Threecounty Transportation Authority Could Improve Leverage For Funds
By Victor Cruz
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With backing from four of seven necessary agencies, the push for a South Florida regional transportation authority is gaining momentum.
On Tuesday, Broward County commissioners unanimously approved its creation. Miami-Dade’s Metropolitan Planning Organization has asked for more information on the idea and the Palm Beach County Commission plans to discuss it Nov. 20.
The three-county Tri-Rail board and planning agencies in Broward and Palm Beach support the new authority.
A regional transportation authority with bonding power would push South Florida closer to the top of the list for federal funds, said Lori Nance Parrish, Broward County commissioner. That, she said, becomes particularly important in light of the slowing economy and threat of imminent budget cuts at the state level.
"The feds like to see organizations that work together," so it’s good for attracting funds, "and it’s smart for taxpayers because we can leverage resources and cut duplication of work."
The idea stems from the existing Regional Transportation Organization, a board with members from the three counties and one Department of Transportation official. As it stands, that group has little authority and no budget, and members are asking tri-county transit officials and commissioners to back creation of an authority with more power and establish a $1 license tag surcharge to fund it.
Members of the regional organization hope to gain support from more tri-county officials and present a plan to state legislators who would need to approve a bill allowing the authority.
The Miami-Dade Planning Organization last week discussed the plan and requested details about how funds would be spent. But outgoing Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin, a member of the group, favors the plan or one for a "super metropolitan planning organization” with even greater powers than proposed.