I opted to skip out on writing on last week’s revelation on the progress of the north corridor thinking that I’d have enough time this week to cover the story; little did I know that my week would quickly become so complicated, but I’ve finally found some time to address the issue.

MDT has gained federal approval to begin land acquisition for the next branch of the metrorail line. No, I’m not talking about the much needed east-west extension, but the north extension, rising along 27th avenue from the current Northside station to Dolphin stadium adjacent to the county line. Despite the fact that the east-west corridor was originally planned in the 1980’s, the north corridor has somehow taken precedent over the more vital link. The seven proposed stations along the $1.3 Billion, 9.5 miles North line include: a second ridiculously close northside station, MDC North Campus, Opa Locka (just out of reach of the airport), 163 St and the Palmetto, 183 St and Miami Gardens Drive, Dolphin Stadium, and Calder Race Course at County line.

I am obviously disturbed that the North extension is proceeding before the even more crucial east-west corridor is constructed. What irks me most is that MDT is spending millions of PTP money to construct yet another N-S rail link, even though the line would essentially parallel the existing Tri-Rail route. At the same time, the SFECC is working to provide a third N-S rail link, funded by the FDOT, along the FEC corridor, while the USDOT is working on a plan to add managed lanes to I-95, despite a multi million dollar unused FDOT project which sought to add a controversial yet proven Ramp Metering system. Seems unreasonable? I think so, especially when it becomes apparent that our layers of government are effectively working against each other to solve a common problem.

I hate to see things in such a grim manner, but I can’t foresee the north corridor garnering enough riders to justify its’ construction. With competing government entities working to improve existing rail and road routes, the north corridor is seemingly becoming the next white elephant of the metrorail system. On the plus side, it will connect Dolphin stadium with a direct transit source which should garner us at least 7 weekends of extensive use (twice that when UM finally heads North too.) Aside from the northern 2 stations, however, the southern five are awkwardly placed at best, running across mainly industrial and single family home neighborhoods; areas generally not geared to handle the addition of such a major transit line.

My main concern is the $800 Million we’re working to receive from the US government. Considering this is the first project to be partially funded by the PTP, we need to construct a line that will generate the ridership and daily passenger use which will help us to further guarantee more federal subsides for our remaining metrorail lines. A failure so early into the PTP could effectively jeopardize federal funding for the east-west corridor, Baylink, or any other major transit route in the county. And, with so many other cities vying for the same funds while planning considerably cheaper projects using LRT or streetcars, the cost benefit ratio for such a large project will be hard to justify…

Update: Speaking of funding issues

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Related posts:

  1. Could the North Corridor be Threatened by Juvenile Politics?
  2. Transit Discussions, Part 1
  3. The MDT North Corridor Saga Continues, Part 1
  4. Public Meeting on Metrorail Expansion - March 25
  5. Improving the Grove/PTP

7 Responses to MDT Planning Dementia

  1. andrew says:

    Do you really think the Feds are going to fund this project? I don’t think it has a chance against the other projects around the nation. I believe that all that land that’s going to be purchased is going to be unused for a long time. I still believe the East-West will be funded before the North corridor ever gets a penny from the feds. It’s just not reasonable; the north line is totally against anything the feds are looking for. The only positive I see is room for development. The only way this gets funded is by political pressure from Rep. Meek.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see it funded either.
    I see the priority being the link to the airport, the east-west and finally the north south corridor.
    The east west corridor makes sense mostly for FIU, since it is a huge traffic generator. And specially students who run on a lower budget would benefit from it. If they do not make a metrorail that properly goes into FIU, I doubt the east west link would be any success either.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wholly agree that the East-West line should be built first, and it’s a shame to see so much money being spent just to settle an old political score. But maybe there are some advantages in this, after all. For starters, if the East-West line were to be built now, it would most likely not go through Flagami, and it’s questionable whether the stations would be located anywhere near ridership-generating locations like the International Mall, FIU, and central Sweetwater. Maybe a few more years of awful traffic will help to strengthen the political will to build the East-West line along the most sensible route. Plus, doesn’t the lack of NIMBYism in discussions about the North Corridor make for a refreshing change from Kendall politics? And the MDC and Dolphin Stadium stations, at least, are located right where people want to go. What’s the likelihood of a similarly convenient placement on the FIU campus?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wish everything didn’t have to be so political, but I do have to agree in part with Anon#2. Unlike the east-west, residents WANT the North Corridor to happen and are glad to see it coming, and much of the right-of-way is already clear. It is refreshing to see this from the community, while there has been nothing but a barrage of complaints about the east-west (and remember what happened with Baylink too!). They don’t want it running along NW 7th St (because the “undesirables” will ruin their neighborhood), the City of Sweetwater didn’t want it running along 107th Ave because it would ‘generate too much noise’, and FIU didn’t even want it on the east side of their campus initially, even though that’s where the majority of their buildings are and their existing shuttle bus stops on that side of campus.

    Plus I see don’t see as much duplication with Tri-Rail as one might initially think, because Tri-Rail does not make as many stops and is designed for longer-distance ‘express’ travel. Tri-Rail fares are distance-based and that might be a factor too.

    The area around the 183rd Street station also has a new zoning overlay with some potential TOD along the way.

  5. Steven says:

    While a northern corridor is not needed as much as an East-West corridor, I have to agree with the above poster. There is a definite Want of this corridor from the surrounding community. Additionally there are major traffic generators in the form of Miami-Dade College, Dolphin Stadium, and Calder Race Track. In addition to serving over three major traffic generators, it has also provided many opportunities for transit oriented development.

    Beyond those key factors, when you include the possibility of expansion into Broward County this corridor becomes an obvious winner. Personally, I agree that the East-West corridor is very badly needed and would probably be constructed first if not for the NIMBY’s in the Flagami area as well as the failed plans to change the alignment down 107th avenue as well as the plan to make the alignment stop at the Airport instead of the MIC. Once again, it is too many hands in the pot trying to control the outcome. The north corridor hasn’t faced nearly half the opposition and scrutiny of the East-West corridor.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You could almost theorize that people who hate heavy-rail transit are cheering for the North corridor, precisely so they can point at it when it fails miserably and blame heavy rail, as opposed to Dade County’s pathetic blend of racial politics and good old fashioned stupidity.

    And of course, if by some miracle the new stations DO attract quality development, the people pushing for it over the east-west line will be the first ones to bitch and moan about gentrification…

  7. Steven says:

    I personally don’t have such a cynical view about the north corridor. While I agree with the comments that it is not needed nearly as much as the East-West corridor, I also feel that the traffic generators along that corridor do warrant the line being constructed. To be completely honest, the things that are impeding the construction of the East-West corridor are far numerous, especially when we look at the history of the proposed alignment.

    Originally the East-West line was supposed to run from FIU in the west to the MIC and then head East more to cover the Orange Bowl, lead into Government Center, and then head out to the Port of Miami. Essentially the line would serve as a direct connection between MIA and the Port. The alignment from the MIC to the port was ultimately scrapped due in part to some of the new developments downtown, especially the Federal Courthouse.

    When the MIC to Port of Miami line was scrapped, it put all the details of the line back into the planning stages. As the alignment went back into planning, the Earlington Heights to MIC connector became even more necessary for the success of the East-West project to succeed. With FDOT dragging behind in its side of the MIC project and the final completion date of the MIC being pushed further and further away from it original opening date, the Earlington Heights-MIC connector moved down on the priority list since it would essentially be a line built to a station in the middle of nowhere. While this is not unheard of in this community, with recent uprisings about corruption and inefficiencies in county government, a station in the middle of nowhere that might fit in later would not be a popular situation.

    Essentially, the problem with constructing the East-West line is the MIC. Delays in construction of the MIC means delays in the Earlington Hights-MIC connector and in turn means delays in the East-West corridor and possibly in at least one aspect of the Kendal Corridor as well. With the failure of Baylink (Thanks Miami Beach) and the delays in the MIC and its associated projects, the MPO is forced to push forward one rail line as soon as possible. The one rail line that has not changed much since its inception has been the north corridor. It would serve several major traffic generators (Dolphin Stadium, Calder, MDC) and would face very little opposition from NIMBYs as has been seen in both the Kendal Corridor as well as the East-West Corridor. Basically the North Corridor is a chance for the MPO to say “The PTP has given you a rail line”, one of the key factors that was promised when the initial plan was approved back in 99.

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