Miami, Florida/North 27th Avenue
North 27th Avenue
The Miami-Dade Transit Agency (MDTA) has proposed to construct a bus rapid transit (BRT) line along a 9.5-mile section of NW 27th Avenue between an existing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Metrorail station and the Broward County line. The proposed BRT system differs significantly from the heavy rail transit proposed in the FY 2001 New Starts submission. Redefinition of the project to a BRT system has resulted in the addition of three new stations, for a total of ten. Park-n-ride lots would be provided to intercept commuters in the corridor. The proposed BRT along the Northwest 27th Avenue corridor would provide direct service to the Miami CBD and Medical Center as well as provide service to Miami Dade Community College-North Campus and the Pro Player Stadium. MDTA has estimated total project costs at $87.9 million (escalated); with a proposed Section 5309 New Starts share of $61.5 million (escalated).
In July 1999, voters rejected a one-cent sales tax increase to support proposed MDTA capital and operating needs, including the previously proposed North 27th Avenue rail project. As a result of the failed referendum, Metro-Dade evaluated lower cost busway options for the North Corridor. Consequently, MDTA selected the BRT system as its preferred option.
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 2000. 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 to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.
The Miami-Dade Transit Agency completed a Major Investment Study (MIS) for the North Corridor in November 1995. The MPO Board selected the NW 27th Avenue alignment as the locally preferred alternative in November 1995 and added the project to its fiscally constrained 2015 Long Range Transportation Plan. An Alternative Analysis and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), including consideration of two busway alternatives and one heavy rail alternative, have been completed with FTA participating as the lead Federal Agency. In May 1998, the MPO selected the heavy rail alternative, a Metrorail Extension along NW 27th Avenue, as the Locally Preferred Alternative LPA. The Preliminary Engineering/Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) phase is underway and is currently scheduled for completion in early 2001.
In July 1999, voters rejected a one-cent sales tax increase to support proposed MDTA capital and operating needs, including the proposed North 27th Avenue rail project. As a result, Metro-Dade re-evaluated other alternatives to improve transportation mobility in the North 27th Avenue Corridor.
TEA-21 Section 3030 (a) (45) authorizes the Miami North 27th Avenue project for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $11.93 million in Section 5309 New Start funds for this proposed project.
The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria for the 9.5-mile BRT. N/A indicates that information is not available for a specific measure.
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.
The Medium project justification rating reflects the adequate transit supportive policies along the proposed alignment, but acknowledges the relatively poor cost-effectiveness of the project.
The 9.5-mile extension is expected to serve 10,400 average weekday boardings and 3,450 daily new riders by 2015. MDTA estimates the following annual travel time savings for the BRT alternative compared to the No-Build and TSM alternatives.
Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 3,084 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed seven stations for the BRT, roughly 24 percent of total households within ½ mile of the proposed stations.
The southeast Florida area is an attainment area for carbon monoxide and a maintenance area for ozone. MDTA estimates that in 2015, the BRT will result in the following impact on emissions.
MDTA estimates that in the year 2015, the LPA will result in the following impacts on regional energy consumption.
MDTA estimates a decrease in the system-wide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2015 for the heavy-rail alternative compared to both the No-Build and TSM.
MDTA estimates the following cost-effectiveness indices for the BRT alternative compared to the No-Build and the TSM alternatives.
Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns
The Medium rating reflects only marginally transit-supportive existing land uses along the proposed alignment, but acknowledges local policies that encourage infill development and increased densities at transit station locations and the potential for future development activities in the corridor.
Existing Conditions: The predominant land use along the proposed corridor is strip commercial that is bordered on the east and west by low and medium density residential land uses. However, there are several potential high-trip generators including the Pro Player Stadium, St. Thomas University and the North Campus of the Miami-Dade Community College and Miami-Dade County Health Center along the proposed corridor. The population of the corridor is expected to grow by 9 percent, from 248,500 to 269,900 between 1995 and 2015 and the employment in the corridor is expected to grow from 94,700 to 115,200 a 22 percent increase. The corridor contains 12 percent of the metropolitan area population and 8 percent of the metropolitan area employment. The land use patterns in the corridor are auto-oriented, with a significant supply of parking in most employment centers, shopping areas, and attractions.
Future Plans and Policies: The State of Florida and several regional planning councils have established an Urban Infill Strategy Task Force to encourage infill development and increase densities. State and regional policies promote infill development with implementation dependent on local jurisdictions. Miami-Dade County’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) requires localities to accommodate new development around transit stations that incorporate certain physical design elements. The CDMP promotes pedestrian access and the provision of bus stops. Recent changes to the Miami-Dade County’s CDMP require a minimum density of housing units and employment based on distance from rail stations. Transit overlay zones exist to promote transit-oriented development in station areas and along the corridor. Currently, there is no county-wide parking policy for Dade County. However, a recent study proposes a schedule for development of a coordinated parking policy. The DEIS process has resulted in a program to tie each station to the adjoining residential neighborhoods through the planning of pedestrian connections and bus transfers. Miami-Dade County has included extensions of water and sewer lines to each station along the project corridor to support development in the station areas.
The development community has participated in project planning through membership in the citizen’s advisory committee. Recent development activities are indicated by proposals for new development projects. For example, developers have obtained clearances for large-scale projects near the proposed NW 199th Street Station.
Local Financial Commitment
Proposed Non-Section 5309 of Total Project Costs: 30%
MDTA’s financial plan assumes $61.5 million from Section 5309 New Start funds (70 percent), $13.2 million (15 percent) in State funds, and $13.2 million (15 percent) in other local funds.
Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan
The Low rating is due to the large share of uncommitted and/or unspecified local funding proposed for the project.
Agency Capital Financial Condition: In July 1999, a proposed one-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 one-cent tax has significant financial implications for availability of MDTA capital funding. However, there is no debt indicated in the financial plan.
Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: No capital financing plan was submitted.
Existing and Committed Funding: MDTA has not secured any firm local funding commitments for the proposed North 27th Avenue BRT project. A potential State funding source for 15 percent of total costs has been identified as supplemental appropriations of Florida’s Public Transit Block Grant Program. MDTA currently receives its full allocation from this source, and intends to seek legislative action to raise the Block Grant spending cap to seek additional funds for the project. The Local Option Gas Tax (LOGT) is proposed to yield $13.2 million (15 percent). It has been rolled back from the five cents per gallon assumed in the project’s financial plan to three cents per gallon.
New and Proposed Sources: MDTA has proposed that Miami-Dade County fund a portion of the local match through general obligation bonds supported by the County’s existing revenues. The bonds would be backed by the redevelopment benefits the project is assumed to provide within the North Corridor. This source has not been approved by the County.
Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan
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: MDTA has not specified an annual project operating cost for the opening year, 2004.
Existing and Committed Funds: MDTA has not identified specific sources or revenues to fund operation of the proposed project.
New and Proposed Sources: MDTA has not identified specific sources or revenues to fund operation of the proposed project.