Miami's Metrorail system may be heading toward $180 million dollar overhaul
By Frank Norton
An overhaul of Miami-Dade's commuter rail system will be one of the first multimillion-dollar uses of a new transit tax if county officials have their way.
The combined projects, to rehab Metrorail cars and replace those for Metromover, would cost at least $180 million and could take up to seven years, said Danny Alvarez, director of the Office of Transportation Management, created to oversee work paid for with the transit tax.
"The feds have already accepted our plans for the rehabbing and we have identified funding sources under the transit tax plan," he said this week from Washington, where he was lobbying for a larger $17 billion umbrella transportation plan.
Regarding the desired overhauls, mechanics would strip and rebuild all 136 Metrorail cars, adding new motors and other components along with design upgrades. As for the downtown Metromover, officials want to replace the cars with high-speed ones that could move at up to 52 mph, Mr. Alvarez said.
This week, the county is to hire consultants to do a 7-month, $2 million study of the alternatives, Mr. Alvarez said. Following the study, the county will bid out the contract.
The funds being banked on are not usable until the county establishes a citizens' board to oversee all transit-tax-funded expenditures. That board has yet to be named, but Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said it will be in place by March.
Officials said faster cars would cut rider and wait times and improve the service's standing as a real transit alternative.
"We have to plan for the future and that means a slicker, faster generation of transit," said Mr. Barreiro, who helped design the county's transit-tax plan.
The 20-plus mile, $1 billion Metrorail opened in 1985 and the 4-mile, $225 million Metromover in 1994.