The cities of Miami and Miami Beach are notorious for horrible traffic jams, especially during rush hour when people are trying to get to and from work. That is why the proposed rail link between Miami and Miami Beach, recently reported in the Miami Herald, has garnered a lot of attention. Connecting these two world-class cities with a quick and modern rail system, called “Bayllink,” will go a long way to improving their appeal, allowing residents and visitors alike to enjoy more of what both communities have to offer without dealing with the hassle of parking or traffic.
Although the rail link idea first emerged in the 1990s, this is the first time in nearly a decade that county commissioners have seriously looked at options for making it a reality.
On Wednesday, [the Metropolitan Planning Organization executive committee] heard from a team of consultants it has retained to study the idea. The consultants, while generally agreeing the line is feasible, sounded a symphony of cautionary notes about everything from funding to aesthetic expectations.
Bay Link, they said, would have not only too few riders to support itself (public transit systems around the country cover only about 39 percent of their costs, and Bay Link would likely do even worse) but too few to attract federal funding.
“There’s intense competition [for federal transportation dollars] out there,” said Robert Peskin of the consulting firm AECOM. “There are other projects that, frankly, are more likely to get the funding.”
That would leave South Florida governments paying a $70 million annual tab for capital and operating expenses by themselves, he added, at a time when conventional government resources for transportation are completely tapped out.
The prospects for outside funding are so bleak, Peskin added, that officials should consider slapping a toll of $1 or $2 on every vehicle crossing the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways. “I’m waiting for somebody to throw something at me,” he confessed.
Even finding the right trolley designs will be complicated, as the most common systems draw their power from the their tracks and are thus impractical in light of Miami’s flooding and drainage issues (the alternative – trolleys with internal power supplies – tends to be under-performing and less cost-effective).
In the end, the committee expressed enthusiasm for the consultants’ proposed solution to these problems: a public-private partnership similar to the one currently working on the much anticipated Port Miami Tunnel. Such an approach could offer creative and cost-effective designs and financial solutions at relatively little cost to the county and public.
Whether the county will issue a formal bid for the project remains to be seen, but we’re confident that this creative and dynamic city will find a solution. To speak to a Miami Traffic Attorney about your traffic citation, contact Hochman & Goldin PA by calling 305-665-1000.