Miami, Florida/ East-West Corridor

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Miami East-West Corridor

Miami, FL

(November 1999)

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The Miami-Dade Transit Agency has proposed to implement a set of multimodal improvements in the Route (SR 836) East-West corridor that would link the suburban area west of the Palmetto Expressway (SR 836) with the Miami International Airport (MIA), downtown Miami, and the Port of Miami seaport. The proposed improvements include an 11.2-mile minimum-operable-segment (MOS) of a heavy rail transit alignment that runs from just east of the Palmetto Expressway (SR 836) to the Port of Miami. An additional 0.7-mile branch is proposed from MIA to the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC). The heavy rail line includes 8.2 miles of aerial guideway and 3.6 miles of bored tunnel with ten stations (six aerial and four underground). The proposed project also includes two buffer-separated HOV lanes, one in each direction, in the median of SR 836 from NW 107th Avenue to the SR 836/SR 112 Interconnector/(MIC). Capital cost estimates for the project (transit and roadway improvements) total $2.023 billion (YOE dollars). The proposed rail line is expected to carry 27,300 average weekday boardings on opening day and 31,400 average weekday boardings by the year 2020.

On July 29, 1999, voters rejected a 1 cent sales tax increase to support proposed MDTA capital and operating needs, including the proposed East-West Corridor project. As a result of the failed referendum, Metro-Dade is currently evaluating considering other projects in place of the East-West Corridor. The scope of the resulting proposed investment may not be consistent with the information submitted for this profile.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Heavy-rail line

11.9 miles,10 stations

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):

$2,023 million

Section 5309 share ($YOE):

$808 million

Annual Operating Cost ($1995):

$39.9 million

Ridership Forecast (2020):

31,400 avg. weekday boardings

13,300 daily new riders

FY 2001 Financial Rating:


FY 2001 Project Justification Rating:


FY 2001 Overall Project Rating:

Not Recommended

The overall project rating of Not Recommended is based upon the lack of local financial commitment to construct and operate the proposed project. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings

and recommendations will be updated annually reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


In October 1996, FDOT initiated preliminary engineering (PE) and the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the locally preferred alternative (LPA). The FEIS was finalized in August 1998 and a joint FHWA/FTA Record of Decision was issued September 28, 1998. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Maritime Administration, and the Coast Guard are cooperating agencies pursuant to a 1993 Memorandum of Understanding. The Miami-Dade Transit Agency (MDTA) recently assumed responsibility for the project from the Florida Department of Transportation.

On July 29, 1999, voters rejected a 1 cent sales tax increase to support proposed MDTA capital and operating needs, including the proposed East-West Corridor project. As a result, Metro-Dade is currently re-evaluating other alternatives to improve transportation mobility in the East-West Corridor.

TEA-21 Section 3030 (a) (44) authorizes the Miami East-West project for final design and construction. Through FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $10.92 million in Section 5309 New Start funds for this project.


The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. MDTA indicates that a TSM alternative was not advanced in the project development process; therefore, criteria comparing the New Start to the TSM alternative are not available (NA).

FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance to final design, and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts. However, note that the scope of the project may change following the local re-evaluation of potential alternatives.


The Medium project justification rating reflects the strong transit supportive land use, but relatively low cost-effectiveness, of the proposed project.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium

The 11.9 mile system is expected to serve 31,400 average weekday boardings and 13,300 daily new riders by 2015. MDTA estimates the following annual travel time savings for the forecast year 2020.




New Start vs.


New Start vs. TSM

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

10.1 million


Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 849 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed 7 stations, about 36 percent of total households within ½ mile of the proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Medium

The southeast Florida area is an attainment area for carbon monoxide and a maintenance area for ozone. MDTA estimates that in the year 2020, the rail component of the LPA would result in emissions reductions for Carbon Monoxide (CO) and HC (Hydrocarbons), and increases for Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM10). The following emissions reductions are forecast for the proposed project.


Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.


New Start vs. TSM

Carbon Monoxide (CO)



Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)



Hydrocarbons (HC)



Particulate Matter (PM10)



Carbon Dioxide (CO2)



Values in brackets [ ] reflect annual tons of emissions increases.

MDTA estimates that in the year 2015, the proposed project will result in a decrease in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units) as shown below.


Annual Energy Savings

New Start vs.


New Start vs. TSM

BTU (million)



Values reflect annual BTU reductions.

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Medium

MDTA estimates a slight increase in the system-wide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2020 for the rail component compared to the No-Build alternative.






New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2020)




Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1995 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Low-Medium

MDTA estimates the following cost-effectiveness index for the rail component compared to the No-Build Alternative.



New Start vs.


New Start vs.


Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger



Values reflect 2015 ridership forecast and 1995 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High rating for transit-supportive land use is largely due to the moderate densities and high-trip generators along the project corridor and local policies to promote infill development and increased densities at transit station locations.

Existing Conditions: Several major trip generators are located along the corridor, including the Miami Central Business District, the American Airlines Arena under construction in downtown Miami, the Orange Bowl, and the planned Miami Intermodal Center. The project will provide intermodal connections with the Miami International Airport and the Tri-County Commuter Rail service at the Miami Intermodal Center, with the existing Metrorail and Metromover service in downtown Miami, and with the cruise ship terminals at the Port of Miami. The Miami International Airport and surrounding area has the largest concentration of employment in the Miami-Dade County area. The population in the corridor is anticipated to increase from 76,800 in 1995 to 81,600 in 2015, an increase of 6 percent. Employment in the corridor is expected to increase from 231,600 in 1995 to 250,000 in 2015, and increase of 8 percent.

Future Plans and Policies: The general density of the land uses along the corridor are expected to increase through infill development as promoted by initiatives from the State of Florida and several regional planning councils, the City of Miami, and recommendations from an Urban Infill Strategy Task Force. Miami-Dade County recently updated the Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) to require a minimum density of housing units and employment around rail transit stations. Additionally, Miami-Dade has embarked on a Station Area Aesthetics, Design and Development (SAAD&D) initiative to create a separate community-oriented planning

processes to develop plans and design guidelines for each station area. The SAAD&D process began in late 1998 for corridor stations following final alignment and station site choices. MDTA has completed preliminary market development surveys for each station and has determined general development potential. Some progress toward development around several stations is evident and plans for several stations appear advanced. Plans for development at station areas along the proposed East-West corridor include proposals for mixed-use development at the NW 57th Avenue and MIC station areas and a new post office and day care center adjacent to the proposed Blue Lagoon Station area.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 60%

MDTA’s financial plan assumes $808 million from Section 5309 New Start funds (40 percent) and local funding sources totaling $1.215 billion (60 percent). Local funding sources identified in the financial plan include $789 million (39 percent) in funds from the regional Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), $108 million (5 percent) from toll road revenue bonds, $100 million (5 percent) from Port of Miami revenue bonds, $30 million (1 percent) from development rights, $11 million (0.5 percent) from cross-border leasing, and $177 million (9 percent) from the Local Option Gas Tax.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Low

The Low rating reflects the large share of uncommitted and/or unidentified local funding proposed for the project.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: The overall financial condition of the MDTA is adequate. On July 29, 1999, a proposed 1 cent sales tax increase, primarily to help pay for new MDTA transit projects and transit operating expenses, was rejected by Miami-Dade County residents. The impact of the failure to pass the 1 % tax has significant financial implications for availability of MDTA capital funding.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: The capital cost estimates appear reasonable for a project of the size and scope proposed by MDTA.

Existing and Committed Funding: Little of the non-New Starts Share of the project funding is committed. MDTA’s financial plan indicates that $1,025 million of non-Federal funding sources may be committed through legislation, resolution or other formal, binding agreement; however, exact sources have not been identified or confirmed. $796.6 million in current state and non-discretionary federal funding programs historically available to Miami-Dade County are being examined, as well are local fuel taxes and some federal sources. MDTA proposes to bond some funds included in the long range regional transportation plan as a source of funding for the project.

$229 million in Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDI) toll revenues are committed by legislation but the tolls are not yet operational.

New and Proposed Sources: MDTA proposes approximately $30 million in funds from the sale or lease of rail station development rights; however, the agency has yet to obtain a firm funding commitment of funding for this transaction. An estimated $100 million is proposed from the Port of Miami (towards capital costs associated with a premium Airport-Seaport rail service), although the Port has yet to commit to this funding level. MDTA continues to indicate a potential cost savings from cross-border leasing as a source of funds. The Miami-Dade County Board has not approved implementation of a local option gas tax (proposed to contribute $177.1 million) which would support construction of the project.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Low

The Low operating plan rating reflects the lack of committed operating funding sources to the project.

Agency Operating Condition: The MDTA is in good operating condition. In recent years, MDTA has experienced operating surpluses (on average), a 30 percent farebox recovery ratio and consistent ridership levels. Miami-Dade County has historically provided sufficient operating funds as required to operate the existing MDTA system.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Annual operating costs are estimated at $39.9 million. Project operating costs and inflation assumptions appear reasonable for a project of this size and scope.

Existing and Committed Funding: No specific existing funding sources are identified within MDTA’s financial plan to cover project operating costs.

New and Proposed Sources: The source of operating funds for the East-West Corridor is proposed to come from operating surpluses generated from fares collected for a premium round-trip service for tourists traveling between the Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami. The actual revenues that will be generated by this premium service have yet to be determined, and no commitments are in place. The financial operating plan assumes that 54 percent of cruise ship embarkations will select this service over the taxi and charter bus options, generating a farebox recovery ratio of 214 percent for this service. Surpluses from this premium service are anticipated to fully cover operating deficits on the East-West line.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)


Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)


Appropriations to Date

  Section 5309 New Starts


($10.92 million appropriated through FY 2000)
  State & Local    
LRTP $789.0  
  Toll Revenue Bonds


Port of Miami $100.0  
  Cross border leasing


Local Option Gas Tax

Joint Development





NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

East-West Corridor (map)