If you read the Herald yesterday, you probably saw this article. It’s not so hard to believe given the bizarre political culture of Miami-Dade, but the proposed North Corridor extension of the Metrorail may be in trouble.

Apparently, the administration of Miami-Dade College North Campus has been working with county transit planners for the last three years to bring not only a station on campus, but a gym/wellness center, a 2000-space parking garage, a conference center, classrooms, and a bookstore. However, all of this would have forced a $26 million relocation of the US Army Reserve Armory at NW 27th Ave and NW 119th St, which the county cannot afford. Furthermore, it appears that these expenses were never even taken into account in the Environmental Impact Statement given to Washington, which means any federal aid allocated to the county for the North Corridor would not include these MDC expenses. From the Lebowitz’s Streetwise column:

And here’s where it gets really strange. All of the letter-writing traffic is one-way, with Vicente (of MDT) memorializing his understanding of what agreements were reached in these meetings.

Nobody from Transit ever responded — even though the agency clearly couldn’t afford to make these ludicrous promises to the college and hope to compete against dozens of other U.S. cities for $700 million to $825 million in matching federal funds for the North Corridor.

Transit’s files are curiously thin on the issue. And three key players from Transit’s side of the talks are no longer with the agency. One retired last year. Bradley was fired in March and one of his top aides a few weeks later.

Yet, records show that Transit was already warning federal regulators in early 2006 that it might not be able to afford the armory relocation, forcing the agency to consider the station closer to the MDC-North main gate.

Why Transit couldn’t brace Vicente with the same candor about the armory site in early ’06 remains a mystery. And someone definitely should have told him, in writing, that the agency couldn’t build that massive conference center-garage without endangering the federal funding.

This is upsetting for several reasons. First, this was supposed to be the next expansion of Metrorail, before the East-West extension or anything in Kendall. MDT is this close to receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to help finance the expensive project. Keep in mind, the transit market is extremely competitive nationwide as cities everywhere are scrambling to make up for lost time and do the right thing by improving their public transportation systems. At the same time, federal funds are shamefully low, which means Miami-Dade is very fortunate to be in the its current position. As Lebowitz says in his column, redrawing the route or ceding to MDC’s demands is totally infeasible right now because of high costs, wasted time, and the potential for jeopardizing federal aid.

It’s also upsetting because the whole thing is just so juvenile. This is the kind of thing that just cannot happen at this level of government, especially when dealing with billion dollar capital projects and $800 million subsidies, not to mention the future of Miami-Dade County.

5 Responses to Could the North Corridor be Threatened by Juvenile Politics?

  1. Xavier Z says:

    As deficient as our transit system is, it’s so disillusioning to see something like this happen. Miami will suffer on many levels if Transit doesn’t get its act together, and soon.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Now is the time to hear from the new head of Miami Dade Transit and see what they are planning. This article only mentions the old players who are no longer with Transit. What has the County said in regards to this?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    All together now (to the tune of “Land of Confusion”)…

    This is the world we live in (Dade Coun-ty)

    And these are the things they’ve screwed-up (like u-sual)

    … well, you get the idea.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    We should not get it and would just screw it up. Give it to somewhere else where it is more respected in the Sunbelt, NE or NW of USA.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, if they need to shave an easy ~$30 million or so from the cost to make up for MDCC, they could always eliminate seemingly-useless station #7 (Northside II). The only real consequence of doing so would be to make people heading from Dolphin Stadium to Hialeah/Tri-Rail(non-MIC)/Medley transfer at MLK instead of Northside.

       0 likes

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