After over a decade of discussion on creating a transport network that would link Downtown Miami and South Beach, plans are now progressing for a light rail / modern streetcar in the city. Miami city commissioners have this week directed City Manager Jimmy Morales to begin talks with the Greater Miami Transit Partners consortium, which contains French transport giant, Alstom (an artist's impression of their Alstom Citadis LRV pictured right) for Miami Beach about an interim agreement. Should these talks fail, other consortiums would be contacted, second placed bid Connect Miami Beach and Miami Beach Mobility partners who came in third.The streetcar construction will involve excavating the existing street, repairing/replacing utilities as necessary, track construction, and street reconstruction. Construction is expected to start in 2017.
The Project is called the City of Miami Beach Light Rail / Modern Streetcar and is envisioned to meet Miami Beach’s increasing mobility needs and also serve as the first segment of a project connecting to Downtown Miami. The streetcar will be built along the median within existing street rights of way. Electrically-powered, the streetcar is proposed to be off-wire and operate in a dedicated travel lane, ensuring efficient service, permanence, and solidifying it as a community asset for many years to come.
“Today’s decision has catapulted the reality of wireless mass transit on Miami Beach,” said City Manager Jimmy L. Morales. “This project aims to substantially ease traffic congestion, link key points of interest, connect people with jobs and opportunities, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and save thousands of dollars in commuting and parking costs for residents and visitors.”
As part of the tender process, the evaluation committee instructed bidders to demonstrate capacity to address minimum ridership of 20,075 people on a daily basis. And the technology must include low floor, low step design throughout each vehicle to maximize and facilitate accessibility and more timely passenger loading and unloading
“Public transportation is a vital component in alleviating our traffic congestion and improving quality of life,” said Mayor Philip Levine at the announcement of the proposal solicitation period in February. “We are committed to completing this project.”
Last year, the Mayor and Commission unanimously passed resolutions approving the City Administration to accelerate the South Beach component and realigned up to $10 million of funding to finalize plans for the project as part of an Environmental Review and concurrently procure the Miami Beach portion of a light rail/modern streetcar without overhead wires.
In addition to the various mobility benefits, the proponents of light rail/modern streetcars point towards its stellar track record for being a catalyst of positive urban change by revitalizing neighbourhoods and business districts.
Local reports state the Alstom ( @ ) proposal was favoured because it is off-wire and the quietest offering. An interim agreement is likely to be expected by Spring 2017, which would then have to be finally approved by the City Commission again.
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