- State Representative Kionne McGhee has summarized the basic priorities in mass transportation as four links: the North corridor along 27th Avenue to Sun Life Stadium, the US1 connector from Dadeland to Homestead, the East-West corridor from 137th Avenue to the Miami Intermodal Center and a cross-bay rail link between downtown and the Miami Beach convention center.
- County Mobility and Transportation Chairman Esteban Bovo has thrown down the gauntlet and made clear that we need at least one of the above funded and under construction within two years of his appointment.
- Miami Commissioner and MPO Vice-Chairman, Francis Suarez has created a transportation trust fund in Miami that derives its funding from general revenues, beginning with $1.6 million in the current budget and continuing in perpetuity by earmarking a percentage of every year’s operating budget for that purpose.
- The Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust, which manages the half-cent sales tax, enacted in 2002 has passed a resolution that requires complete return, within 3-5 years, of the 40% in sales tax revenues that are currently used for maintenance and operation so that it can be applied to capital improvements, as originally intended.
Of course, we cannot wait 3-5 years to get started on what is clearly the single most important priority for local government: a viable system of mass transportation in Miami-Dade County.
For that reason, and taking advantage of the enormous public support for bike and pedestrian trails (Ludlam, Underline, etc.) I recently presented to our legislative delegation the following funding plan, which I call the “25/5 plan.” Note that it is supported by existing taxes and user fees that emanate from our county and presently flow either to the state or to an independent agency (the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority or MDX) that has grown fat from ubiquitous tolls that are making life miserable for our working-class commuters, taxis and delivery/construction light vehicles.
My plan calls for extracting 25% of all revenues generated by tolls and auto tag renewals for use in mass transportation. The combined revenues of the MDX (approximately $240 million per year) and of the auto tag renewals (approximately $160 million per year) add up to $400 million per year; 25% of that, or $100 million per year, is enough to bond out more than $1.2 billion which is what is needed to fund three of the four linkages mentioned by Rep. McGhee and agreed to by the CITT as being the highest-priority ones.
The other 5% of my 25/5 proposal is for what I call “trails in the city.” The four links mentioned will extend to all four corners of the county in more or less equal, geographic dispersion, covering NW, SW, East and West neighborhoods. Bikers and pedestrians should be an integral part of the planning and construction of mass transit. Dedicating 5% of the $400 million from the two existing sources of revenue mentioned means a steady yearly flow of $20 million, more or less equally divided among the four quadrants of the county.
I thank our legislative leaders of both parties, led by Senator AniTere Flores, for their warm reception of last Monday and for their relentless effort to get our county its fair share of revenues derived from our residents and visitors.
Let’s get to work on 25/5.
For more information, contact Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez at 305-669-4003 or via email at email@example.com.