Differing Opinions as Miami-Dade Moves Forward with SMART Plan for South Dade - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Differing Opinions as Miami-Dade Moves Forward with SMART Plan for South Dade

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Posted: Friday, September 7, 2018 12:15 am

The Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) has selected a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) to move forward with the first leg of the six-corridor Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan.

The County can now move forward with applying for federal funds to pay for up to $100 million of the estimated $300 million project, which could begin service within the next few years and run along the existing South Dade Transitway from Dadeland to Florida City.

“The selection of this LPA by the TPO is a historic step toward delivering greater transportation options from the Dadeland area to Florida City on the South Corridor,” said Chairman Esteban Bovo Jr. “This long-overdue selection of premium rapid transit, which will feature many of the benefits of rail – including dedicated lanes, iconic stations with ticket kiosks, wide doors for group boardings, climate controlled and level boarding platforms, and rail-like gate arms to block traffic at intersections – places us in the right direction for the residents of South Dade. Ultimately, this action by the TPO will allow the County to partner with both the state and federal government partners on providing key matching funds that are crucial for the infrastructure needed to deliver on the fulfillment on the Miami-Dade SMART Plan.”

County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava represents District 8 which encompasses Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead, and unincorporated areas of South Dade including Redland, Falls, Princeton, parts of Naranja, Leisure City and parts of West Kendall. Levine-Cava issued the following statement after the vote in support of building Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) rather than Metrorail for South Dade: “I am terribly disappointed in the outcome of today’s TPO meeting. Residents clearly voted for rail when they supported the half-penny tax and rail is what we should be delivering to South Dade. But, unfortunately, the County Administration embarked on a campaign of dividing the TPO members after we had worked so hard to remain unified in our efforts to move the SMART plan forward with all six corridors weighted equally. By misrepresenting the local cost and insisting that we must pick one transit option now for South Dade, the TPO was pushed to choose “fast” over smart.

“I tried my best to keep us unified by proposing a fair, smart and affordable way forward. I proposed a motion to choose Metrorail-at-grade as the Locally Preferred Alternative for South Dade, but broken into phases where the first phase would have been the eight-mile stretch to SW 112th Avenue, with BRT only an interim step until we were ready to advance the rail construction. The Citizens Independent Transportation Trust board, the group responsible for overseeing the half-penny transit tax, recently urged that we advance Metrorail in a phased approach almost identical to what I presented today. By using a phased approach, we could have cut the initial cost in half, delivered BRT as a true interim step, and had plenty of capacity to build other legs of the SMART plan. Most importantly, we would have finally begun to build back public trust that was lost long ago over past half-measures and broken promises.”

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