Forum on controversial Miami Beach ‘train to nowhere’

Forum on controversial Miami Beach ‘train to nowhere’
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Proponents and opponents of an imagined light rail train that loops around South Beach will railgraphicdiscuss the pros and cons of the project at a community forum Thursday night organized by Miami Beach United.

Last we heard, there are three possible deals on the table, all from qualified bidders. Proposals are due Nov. 3. But everybody seems to believe that Alstom is the favored vendor after Mayor Philip Levine and City Manager Jimmy Morales traveled to France to meet with them. Morales was instructed by the commission to begin negotiations with Alstom in July. 

The rail, which the community is calling a streetcar, will loop around South Beach from the convention center to 5th Street and from Dade Boulevard and Alton Road to Washington Avenue. It is expected to cost about $387 to build and $16 million a year to operate (at first because that grows). And it is projected to take five years to build.

This comes after Levine, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami-Dade philip-levineMayor Carlos Gimenez apparently lost their marbles and agreed last year to seek their rail systems separately. They abandoned plans for Bay Link that would cross the MacArthur Causeway and connect the Beach with downtown Miami until later. And they basically rejected more than $8 million already secured in state funding for a new study. All each city had to provide was $417,000. And they might still be able to get federal funding. 

Supporters say the loop is a good first step to the eventual Bay Link and that it will take cars off the street.

Opponents it will make traffic worse because it will cause chaos on Beach streets as they are torn up antitraintrafficonce again and because it’s made for tourists. Most locals would rather walk five blocks than go around what they call “Levine’s loop” or “the train to nowhere” and many say it is a waste of taxpayer funds. It could also be called the Alex Heckler express since the lobbyist (who just hosted a fundraiser with Levine for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez) is the one promoting this idea.

“Nobody wants this taxpayer paid train to cater to tourists,” said Commissioner Kristen Rosen-Gonzalez. “Levine has not listened to all the residents who do not want that train. And there are a lot of them.”

That’s why the forum tonight might turn into a train-trashing session. MBU’s stated goals are to:

  • Educate residents on the Miami Beach Light Rail Project with some background on Miami-Dade County SMART plans
  • Provide residents with “pros and cons” regarding the plan
  • Identify ways residents can be engaged throughout the planning process
  • Generate ideas and feedback for the Miami Beach Light Rail Plan

Nowhere does it say stop the train. But there will be people who want to do that. Robert Lansburgh, who leads the Stop the Train Miami Beach movement (more than 700 likes on Facebook) is notrainmapparticipating. So is Michael Barrineau, president of the South of Fifth Neighborhood Association. There are also light rail advocates like Mark Needle, an active resident of the Flamingo Park neighborhood.

Activist Frank Del Vecchio will attend. He said the city has not answered 11 questions that the West Avenue Neighborhood Association has about the train’s impact to residents. He is concerned that the city has already entered into consulting contracts worth more than $6 million and hired staff dedicated to advance the project.

The questions are: 

  1. What are the consultant reports and when are they due?
  2. Are the reports public record and how can they be accessed?
  3. Will the reports address the particulars of elevating tracks along the route addressing Sea Level Rise? 
  4. Separated out, what is cost of streetcar? Of  street raising? Of pump stations? Of intermodal transit facilities?
  5. Will the reports provide a construction budget and timetable?
  6. Will the street raisings be separately budgeted?
  7. What Streetcar and related items are in the recently approved 2016/2017 (both operating and capital)
  8. What is the current timetable for city commission consideration of and action on the Streetcar project: (Please identify the action item and the scheduled or expected date of consideration, and type of action required (Resolution, Ordinance, Budget amendment, Contract approval, etc.)
  9. Will the studies identify the required number of intermodal transit facilities, the minimum required capacity of each for number of trains to be serviced and stored, and the minimum number of vehicle parking spaces to be provided?  Will the locations, either specific or approximate, of such facilities be provided?
  10. What agencies other than the City of Miami Beach are required to approve any aspect of the project, including configuration of State Roads located in Miami Beach that are included in the route?  If State Roads are included in the route whose responsibility will be the raising of those roads for sea level rise purposes?
  11. What is the nature of the approval or approvals required?  Please cite the relevant requirement(s).

Del Vecchio also has loads of other questions about connectivity and how committed the county and Metropolitan Planning Organization are to connecting light rail since they’ve been talking more and more about rapid bus transit. Furthermore, he points to some study that indicates traffic could actually increase because of left turn limitations caused by Levine’s loop.

Hopefully, these questions will be answered Thursday night at the forum, titled “Are We On The Right Track?” It will begin at 6 p.m. at the Miami Beach Woman’s Club, 2401 Pine Tree Dr. (Free parking at the Hebrew Academy).

But Ladra doubts the conversation will end there.

13 Responses to "Forum on controversial Miami Beach ‘train to nowhere’"

  1. SkyTran is Tomorrow's Transit, Today   October 20, 2016 at 7:26 am

    SkyTran is the transportation system of the future. Forget at street level transit. It just tears up streets and interferes with local traffic patterns. A good transit system is above-grade.

    The best type of Personal Rapid Transit is ready to go.

    skyTran is better than any other PRT. It uses innovative technology that beats all other modes of transportation (PRT or not) hands down. skyTran is:

    • High Capacity – skyTran’s system of computer-controlled, 2-person vehicles can accommodate the world’s entire commuting population within a much smaller footprint than is currently used by all of today’s legacy mass transportation systems combined. Because skyTran is built as an expandable grid, it will never be filled to capacity.

    • Flexible – Groups of skyTran vehicles can travel along together so the entire family gets on and gets off without ever being separated. You can ride in comfort in the lead vehicle listening to Mozart and enjoying the view, while the kids are in a vehicle behind you playing video games. You can even order a small freight car to follow your family home from the shopping center.

    • Low Cost – skyTran is cheaper than any other PRT or mass transit hand-s down. Massive legacy systems such as trains and light rail cost hundreds of times more than skyTran. Even freeways are dozens of times more expensive per mile. skyTran’s simple “snap-together” rails and supports are modular components that can be put up quickly and easily. The vehicles are lightweight, hi-tech, and simple to mass-produce.

    • Safe – There is no safer mass transit system available. Because the skyTran system avoids conjugating people together into vehicles, terrorists can only do harm to themselves. If they try to damage the track, the vehicles have emergency stopping and avoidance capability built in. If power is interrupted to the system by a natural disaster, the vehicles have enough on-board energy to safely head to the nearest station.

    • Low Impact – skyTran respects the environment. Unlike the eyesore of massive concrete rail (and other PRT systems) or freeways with their gigantic footprints, skytran uses small, lightweight poles and hanging guideways that can be installed alongside sidewalks, over local shops, and even go into and out of office buildings. skyTran can even bury those existing, unsightly power and communication lines with its track to really clean up the neighborhood.

    • Green – skyTran is powered by clean, renewable energy. Its state-of-the-art maglev propulsion is the most efficient way to travel. This solar-powered and kinetic energy-driven system emits no pollution whatsoever. And it doesn’t need much energy to operate. The power used in two hair dryers can fly you alone at over 100 kph (62 mph).

    There is no faster, greener, or cheaper transportation system available.

    To learn more about skyTran, go to:

  2. Jo Manning   October 20, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Who posted the above reply?

    • Ladra   October 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I’m not sure, Jo, but I bet it’s either one of the companies that bid or a company that wants to bid.

      Love, Ladra

  3. Gustavo Chacon   October 20, 2016 at 8:49 am

    (1) Question Only ? Are All this Electrical Components Able to Stand and Resit *The Salt WATER Intrusion *?

  4. Bus Rapid Transit   October 20, 2016 at 10:08 am

    So many unanswered questions.

    Bus Rapid Transit? Isn’t Bus Rapid Transit 5% of the cost of fixed rail? And BRT is flexible.

  5. Roger Abramson   October 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

    The street car that Levine is proposing is one of the major scams (and he has many) he has put forth on Miami Beach. This form of transportation is out dated, expensive to build and maintain, will not have any impact on the traffic problems on the beach. The residents have a real opportunity to check out what commissioners vote for this pink elephant, and those that do should be voted out of office. Levine is getting rid of the south beach local as part of his plan. I do not know that his 3 biggest puppets, (for sure Aleman and Malakoff) will be on his side.

  6. Robert Lansburgh   October 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Stop the train Miami Beach is our Facebook page

  7. Steve   October 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Follow the money- Alex Heckler is the lobbyist promoting this mega- project- disaster.

  8. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz   October 20, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Mark Needle n Frank del Vecchio have the same perfect record – absolutely NO KNOWLEDGE of anything they talk about over the 25 years they have actively destroyed South Beach. As someone who travels twice a year in Eurooe I can say Del Vecchio n Needle are bottomless pits of ignorance. If people want a Forum the equally provincial and ignorant Nancy Liebman’s yet another faux community organization is the last place to go for knowledge

    • Jim Deland   October 21, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz is an absolute moron. All he does is attack people who speak their minds and offers zero constructive input, most likely because he doesn’t have any. And when he tries to opine on an issue, it is always a long, rambling, nonsensical jumble of poorly spelled words put together into a grammatically appalling tirade. He has no business sense whatsoever and for all the “millions” he says he’s collected over the years, he doesn’t have $5 to his name.

  9. Rigo G   October 20, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Shouldn’t this somehow be tied into the North Beach master plan? Why operate in silos when the two programs compliment each other so well.

  10. Aaron Resnick   October 20, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I wish someone would investigate how and why this is being pushed down our throats. $400 million for 4 miles that does not service residents, is not needed and there is no one clamoring for it. This is madness.

  11. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz   October 22, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Jim Deland is a failed political consultant who I refused to lend miney to in 1996. As for not having five bucks just one of my unmortgaged homes in Broward has a Tax Appraised value of 130 K. I also am the main donator to three Family Foundations: Rosenthal-Family-Stiftung Waller-Family-Stiftung n Rose Wallee Fund. How nuts like AC Weinstein David Kelsey n Frank DelVecchio thrive on Miami Beachamazes me as well as thrug Ms

    Mayors like David Dermer n now Philip Levine.


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