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Miami-Dade County dumps monorail, will expand Metromover corridor

Miami-Dade County has ditched plans to build a monorail connecting Miami to Miami Beach and instead will expand the existing Metromover to create a transit corridor, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday.

The plan for Baylink will make Miami-Dade transit more efficient and accessible, eliminate the need for riders to transfer and save the city millions of dollars, according to the mayor’s office. It is expected to be completed in 2029.

Cost estimates for the plan were unavailable, but are expected to be considerably lower than the $1.3 billion that the monorail project rose to during the past two years.

Extending the Metromover system offers users a one-seat ride from any Metromover station in Miami to Miami Beach and back.

Chip Barnett

“I have always supported a one-seat ride for Baylink and I’m proud that we are now moving forward with a seamless extension of the Metromover to provide the best experience to residents and visitors at a significantly lower cost,” Cava said.

In October 2020, county commissioners approved an interim agreement with MBM Partners LLC, giving them the right to negotiate with the county for a 30-year project agreement to develop and maintain a monorail system connecting Miami to Miami Beach.

Due to ballooning costs, the negotiating phase ended without any agreement, allowing the county to pursue alternatives.

District 5 Commissioner Eileen Higgins said when the project was first proposed by the previous administration, it was estimated a monorail could save millions of dollars over a plan to extend the existing Metromover.

“In the recent negotiations, however, the price ballooned to $1.3 billion. We now believe we can get what the residents want — a one-seat ride between downtown and the beach by extending our existing Metromover — at a lower cost. That’s why we’ve decided expanding the Metromover is the best option,” Higgins said.

“Now we’re officially shifting gears,” Cava said. “We’re working to expand our Metromover system, providing an easy, familiar one-seat ride from Government Center all the way to Miami Beach at a lower cost to taxpayers.”

Extending the system would give users a ride from any Metromover station in Miami to Miami Beach and back, connect Baylink to Metrorail and eliminate the need for riders to transfer.

The plan is the option preferred by most residents, according to the mayor’s office, which said it would provide familiarity and convenience for riders and could be integrated into the county’s existing transit system.

An analysis conducted by the Department of Transportation and Public Works showed that an extension of the Metromover could creating the highest overall value.

“Providing a high-quality transit solution that take residents and visitors between Miami’s urban core, Miami Beach and the economic engines of Miami International Airport and PortMiami is critical to creating a thriving, more resilient Miami-Dade,” said Eulois Cleckley, director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

In the next few weeks, the county will release a competitive solicitation to build the Metromover extension. DTPW hopes to have an agreement in place by October 2023, with project design starting in 2024, construction beginning in 2025 and operation by 2029. The proposed timeline is similar to that of the original monorail plan.

“Fulfilling the Smart Strategic Plan is a long-term effort to deliver transportation solutions to all corners of our community,” Cava said.

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