Gables Trolley Funds On Way Kerdyk Says
By Marilyn Bowden
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Money for a proposed trolley serving downtown Coral Gables should be in hand in first quarter 2002, said City Commissioner William Kerdyk Jr.
"I’m confident that we will have funds for operations and capital funding from outside sources within two months," he said.
Mr. Kerdyk said he first proposed the ‘Coral Gables Circulator’ two or three years ago. He said the city has approved recommendations for it in a study sponsored earlier this year by the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.
"We are already a financial hub and home to 150 multinationals," he said. " There’s about a million additional square feet of office space and a billion square feet of retail space coming on the market. Traffic is getting worse and worse.
"We need to find solutions to relieve traffic and parking downtown."
The study calls for a fleet of five "trolley-like buses" costing $250,000 to $300,000 each, Mr. Kerdyk said. Operating costs for the free service would come to about $500,000 annually, he said.
The circulator would run for about 11/2 miles along Ponce de Leon Boulevard from Eighth Street to US 1, he said, connecting the central business district in the Gables with an emerging commercial hub around the Village of Merrick Park retail project being developed by the Rouse Co. and the county’s Metrorail system.
"They would run in eight- to 10-minute increments," Mr. Kerdyk said, "with a shorter loop of three to five minutes through the business core during lunch time.
"Since the business district is only four blocks wide, anybody who works downtown could walk two blocks to it."
Tim Plummer, president of David Plummer & Associates, transportation and engineering consultants that conducted the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s survey, said the recommended electric hybrid vehicle is similar to the Miami Beach Electrowave shuttle in engineering, but it would be designed to resemble a historic Coral Gables trolley.
"It’s an electric-powered bus that has a small diesel-powered generator that can recharge the battery while it’s in service," Mr. Plummer said. "In the past, the problem with electric-powered vehicles has been that the battery life is only four to five hours and then it needs a recharge."