Commissioner Suarez, six area mayors speak out for Metrorail

South Miami-Dade County voters were promised an extension of Metrorail into South Dade if they supported a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund public transportation.

They overwhelmingly voted yes and got a fast lane for busses instead. It was wrong. They did not receive what was promised and they want it — Metrorail — now. This was the theme elected officials recently presented to the members of the Homestead City Commission and South Dade residents, a plan to bring Metrorail to South Dade.

Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Xavier Suarez opened the presentation stating that there are funds available to pay for the extension.

The cost of extending the Metrorail to Florida City is estimated at $690 million. We already own the real estate, which in many expressway projects represents a very large portion of the total cost.

State Rep. Kionne McGhee, District 117 (Cutler Bay) pointed out that South Dade is the fastest growing section of the county but is being overlooked by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which is partially responsible for public transportation planning.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo said that Miami- Dade consumers are still paying the half-percent sales tax and to date have paid over $2.5 billion.

Additionally, there are some federal funds available and that he and other Miami- Dade elected officials in Washington, DC, are ready to seek financial support.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn, Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace and Pinecrest Councilmember James McDonald all took turns at the microphone telling of each community’s need to have the Metrorail extension run through their communities which would relieve traffic on US1 and speed their residents in connecting with downtown employment and the airport.

McGee noted that the average resident in Florida City who works 250 days a year spends $3,200 annually on transportation, yet their median income is $24,674. And it still takes 2-3 hours a day riding and transferring busses to and from the centers of employment.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard added a touch of levity to the presentation telling the crowd that while his city is on the rail system he still is in need of the extension as his daughter has a boyfriend who lives in Cutler Bay and he, the mayor, must drive him home as the rail ends in East Kendall.

The presentation to the residents of the Homestead and Florida City area was the first of several that will be made to the residents of Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest. It is the hope that the residents will lend support to our elected officials and see that the extension of Metrorail actually takes place.

Mayor Flinn emphatically stated, “We either push together to get a ‘real,’ 21st Century infrastructure to move us along, or we’ll all just suffer together on US1.”

Note: I left my home in East Kendall (Dadeland area) at 5 p.m. on the evening of the presentation hoping to arrive at 6:30. Unfortunately, stuck in traffic, I arrived late at 6:50 p.m., just as Commissioner Suarez was closing the presentation with a “thank you” to the Homestead mayor, city commissioners and members of the community. I ultimately listened to the presentation on You Tube.

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to Kenneth.Bluh@ColumbusCL.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.


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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at kbluh@americanbsm.com or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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