- City of Miami Beach county commissioners have voted to move forward with the preliminary development of a $380 million light rail streetcar system with French rail consortium Alstom, the Miami Herald reported.
- The commission said it selected Alstom over two other bidders – Connect Miami Beach and Miami Beach Mobility Partners – based on technology and design rather than on which company had the lowest bid, and would negotiate the final price.
- Commissioners said the streetcar system would eventually connect Miami Beach with downtown Miami via a larger, future rail system. However, in a formal protest, the other bidders for the project said that Alstom's proprietary technology would prevent integration with any other system unless other manufacturers' products are adapted to work with Alstom's.
Last year, Alstom submitted an unrequested proposal to the commission for a Miami Beach streetcar, and the commission subsequently requested formal bids with the intention of forming a public private partnership (P3) to construct and maintain such a rail system. The city commission said it wants a 35-year construction and maintenance P3 agreement for which it would pay approximately $11 million in yearly construction costs and then $26 million in annual payments, given a 12.5% total construction spend. The city is not seeking federal funds as the required studies, it said, would take too long.
Expediency is also a concern for officials who are trying to get the $5.6 billion, 16-mile Purple Line light rail system in Maryland underway. Some Chevy Chase, MD, residents, who reportedly have been against construction of the new rail line since its inception, requested another six-month ridership survey that rail officials said could put the entire project in jeopardy. Unlike the Miami Beach project, however, the Purple Line is receiving a considerable amount of federal funding – $900 million.
Commissioners no doubt anticipate the increased need for mass transit in Miami Beach after Clark Construction finishes a $515 million convention center overhaul now underway there. The new center is slated for completion in time for the 2017 annual Art Basel art event, which is expected to bring 75,000 visitors from around the world.