Miami, federal transit officials meet to discuss streetcars
By Deserae del Campo
Federal officials are huddling here this week with Miami transportation planners trying to win US funding to create a city streetcar system.
"Staff from the Federal Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration are meeting with City of Miami transportation officials this week to discuss federal funding for the streetcar project and what direction the project is headed," said Mary Conway, city director of capital improvements and transportation. "The city is still looking for the possibility of federal funding."
City, state and federal officials are to discuss Small Starts, a federal grant program designed for public transportation capital projects that run along a dedicated corridor or fixed highway - such as a streetcar, trolley or rapid bus system.
Small Starts is dedicated to projects that cost less than $250 million and whose officials are seeking less than $75 million in funds.
"Discussion will range not only in costs and funding," said Ms. Conway, "but also the schedule of the streetcar project, its implementation and impact on the community."
As officials meet, the streetcar project is undergoing an Alternate Analysis and Environmental Assessment, as required by the Federal Transit Administration to receive $50 million under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Results of that study are expected in the summer.
The Equity Act funds are separate from the money available under the Small Start program, Ms. Conway said. The city is seeking both.
The streetcar system would have two loops - a 6.75-mile north-south loop from Southeast/Southwest First to Northeast 41st streets and a 2.89-mile east-west loop to run west on Northwest 20th Street from Northeast Second to Northwest 10th avenues and continue south to Northwest 17th Street and then east to Northeast Second Avenue.
The estimated construction and systems cost is $130 million, including track, roadway and utility costs, maintenance and operations, vehicles, designs and crossing signals along the Florida East Coast Railway.
Annual operating cost is estimated at $3.5 million.
The city will host an informational meeting March 8 for residents at the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave.
"We have mailed out 5,000 meeting invites to property owners within the project study area," said streetcar program manager Winsome Bowen. Invitations also went to city and Miami-Dade County officials, city and county agencies and Miami's Neighborhood Enhancement Team offices in Overtown, Wynwood, Allapattah, the Upper East Side and Little Haiti and downtown, she said.
A draft agenda is in the works. Ms. Bowen said Mayor Manny Diaz may offer opening remarks and she or Ms. Conway will describe the project.
"Project consultants," Ms. Bowen said, "will discuss the financing, funding or any technical questions that may come up."