Miami — Miami Beach Planning Advancing
According to the Miami Curbed website, years of discussions about a potential streetcar line are now giving way to serious planning. The new system would link the Beach to Miami via the Causeway and also serve destinations along the island.
Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine said "I am happy to report that after years of discussions, we have finally taken the beginning steps of making our dream of providing better public transportation closer to becoming a reality."
His press release continued:
"Last week, the Miami Beach Commission and I authorized the City to move ahead expeditiously to develop a light rail/wireless streetcar system that will allow residents, visitors, and business owners to move around our City a lot more efficiently and reduce the amount of cars on our roads.
"Eventually, this project is expected to connect the City of Miami Beach to the City of Miami so commuting between the two will be safer, faster, and more convenient.
"The initial phase of the project will consist of a 2-way connection on 5th Street and Washington Avenue, and is referred to as the 'South Beach Component.'
The second phase is expected to take place along Alton Road and 17th Street, complementing the cross-bay route to Downtown Miami.
Possible further extensions could include a route along the Julia Tuttle Causeway to connect Miami Beach with Midtown Miami and eventually the airport.
Environmental assessments are underway as a first step in formalizing plans for the system. Local officials decided not to undertake the elaborate National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) analysis which could qualify the project for federal funds as it would prolong the project by years, without any guarantee of receiving funds.
Planning was boosted in August when French rail company Alstom submitted an unsolicited bid to build a 14-mile streetcar line connecting downtown Miami to the Miami Beach Convention Center, as well as servicing South Beach’s entertainment district.
Alstom and its partners want to finance the construction at the beginning of the project, then operate it on an exclusive contract that could run for 35 years. Tax dollars would pay for both construction and operations. The city plans to ask other firms for similar proposals.