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Metrorail line clears hurdle


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http://www.miamiherald.com/884/story/88269.html

 

 

 

MIAMI-DADE TRANSIT

 

Metrorail line clears hurdle

 

Miami-Dade County has received approval to start acquiring 114 parcels it needs to build a 9.5-mile Metrorail line, while continuing to compete for more than $800 million in construction funds from Washington for the project.

 

BY Admin LEBOWITZ

llebowitz@MiamiHerald.com

 

Miami-Dade Transit cleared a major milestone Thursday for the development of the first new Metrorail line since the original one opened in 1984.

 

Transit received federal permission to start acquiring 114 parcels of land along Northwest 27th Avenue for the 9.5-mile North Corridor extension. Estimated cost of the land: $176 million.

 

The line would run from 82nd Street to the Broward County line, making stops at Calder Race Course, Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Opa-locka and the Miami Dade College North Campus.

 

Most of the land would be acquired with local and state funds over the next three years from willing sellers and then through eminent domain takings, said Transit deputy director Albert Hernandez.

 

''This is a major victory, one that's been a long time coming,'' said county Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who represents a large portion of the corridor. "It really assures that this is going to happen.''

 

But Federal Transit Administration officials warn that Thursday's decision doesn't mean the North Corridor is a done deal yet.

 

Miami-Dade is asking the FTA for nearly 60 percent, or more than $800 million, of the project's estimated $1.37 billion cost.

 

The balance would be split by the state and Miami-Dade -- with the county share coming from the half-cent sales tax that voters approved in 2002.

 

The cost includes concrete and steel for the elevated guideways, seven stations with 4,300 parking spaces and 36 new railcars.

 

Miami-Dade is competing with dozens of U.S. communities that are seeking federal New Starts funds to finance new mass transit dreams or extend existing rail and subway lines. Only a handful of new projects are selected each year because the projects are so expensive, they take years to build and federal funds are limited.

 

''It's a significant milestone, but it in no way signifies our commitment to funding of the project,'' Sean Libberton, chief analyst at the FTA's office of planning and environment, said of Thursday's decision.

 

In February, Libberton's staff gave the North Corridor a ''Medium'' rating during its annual ranking of all U.S.transit projects seeking New Starts funds.

 

But analysts threatened to give the North Corridor a ''Low'' rating unless the county can do a better job proving that the expanded system will take in enough money to justify its costs.

 

The Miami-Dade request is extremely large even by federal standards.

 

''It's rare when the program provides for the funding level that Miami-Dade Transit is requesting,'' Libberton said. But later in the interview, he added:

 

"We think [the North Corridor] is a project that has real merit and we're going to work with Miami-Dade Transit to help it advance.''

 

Transit hopes to have a funding deal in place by mid-2009 so construction could start in 2010 and the line could open in late 2014.

 

If it is built, the North Corridor is expected to act as an economic development catalyst for financially strapped communities such as Opa-locka and Miami Gardens. According to the 2000 Census, 26 percent of households in the corridor have incomes below the poverty level.

 

It also would provide a new alternative for thousands of South Broward commuters. One day, passengers could make a one-train trip from Calder Race Course to Dadeland South. Trains could run every 6 ? minutes during peak hours.

 

The county is building a $523 million, 2.4-mile link from Earlington Heights to the MIC that they hope to open by 2011.

 

''Today we cleared a major hurdle in expanding our Metrorail system,'' said Mayor Carlos Alvarez. "It was a priority of the people when they approved the half penny surtax. I am looking forward to working with staff to get the project done.''

 

But that line to the airport is a whole other matter.

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We've actually been trying for the past 20 years to get our act together so we can build that line. In that time, we've experienced a population boom in the south and the west. Today, transportation studies suggest an east-west line and a south corridor would be more useful than this north corridor. For some reason, however, our idiotic county government is hell-bent on building this line first.

 

The county commission even passed an unnecessary measure that makes it impossible for a southern metrorail extension to get off the ground for another two decades, just so they can preserve their antiquated pecking order. Hell, these same thieves came one vote short of successfully raiding that half-cent sales tax for their own projects, by attempting to "charge" Miami-Dade Transit for past operating losses.

 

Anyway, even though we have bigger metrorail priorities, this is good news. I'm not going to get too optimistic about the prospect of us landing heavy rail over that tract of land, though, since the feds have been unreasonably tight with transportation funding. This might change if/when the dems take the white house.

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Guest Juanky

HA! We're still waiting for the bullet train promised in the early 1970's. (or was that the 1870's?)

 

I'll believe it when I see it.

The voters axed that

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The train is a horrendous waste of money that only helps crime migrate along its tracks. MARTA in Atlanta is a clear example. Now, not only is Atlanta one of the most dangerous cities in America, but many of its suburbs can enjoy the same distinction!

 

I would like to see the stats to back that up.

 

I've only visited Atlanta but I felt pretty safe everywhere I went, even in the downtown area.

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The train is a horrendous waste of money that only helps crime migrate along its tracks. MARTA in Atlanta is a clear example. Now, not only is Atlanta one of the most dangerous cities in America, but many of its suburbs can enjoy the same distinction!

cars and highways help criminals move around, too.

 

ugh, we need to get rid of those things.

 

The train is a horrendous waste of money that only helps crime migrate along its tracks. MARTA in Atlanta is a clear example. Now, not only is Atlanta one of the most dangerous cities in America, but many of its suburbs can enjoy the same distinction!

 

I would like to see the stats to back that up.

there aren't any. i googled just to make sure.

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The east-west line is much more needed. But like our current line the problem is it is a lot easier to get government funds when you run a line across the ghetto to help 'the poor' get around. This isn't a joke or criticism on my part, its the truth, spending tax payers dollars to extend a line to doral will piss a lot more people off. That being said a world class city needs public transportation, which includes connection to the airport. Like In DC or New york-JFK.

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