Mar 9, 2023 - News

Miami-Dade County's Metromover extension project faces opposition

A rendering shows what a potential Metromover station in South Beach could look like. Photo: Courtesy of Miami-Dade County

The proposed Metromover extension connecting downtown Miami and South Beach has been hailed by supporters as a fix for the gridlock along the MacArthur Causeway, but some residents are pushing back on the project.

Why it matters: Traffic in and around Miami Beach is a headache for motorists, and especially those who rely on county buses that regularly hit capacity during rush hour and skip stops.

  • "It's very obvious, we live in a traffic nightmare. There is no place to build more roads, the only solution is public transportation," County Commissioner Eileen Higgins tells Axios.
  • But some residents living along the proposed line — including on Fisher Island and the South of Fifth neighborhood — worry the project is being rushed and that it may attract crime.

Catch up fast: For decades, county studies have envisioned linking the mainland to the Beach with mass transit across the MacArthur Causeway.

  • Higgins and Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the estimated $1 billion Baylink proposal to extend the county-run Metromover to South Beach in November. It replaced a more expensive monorail project that would have followed a similar route.
  • The project is expected to be put out for bid this year, ahead of a County Commission vote set for 2024, the Miami Herald reported.

Yes, but: Some residents like Tim Carr, president of the Bentley Bay Condominium Association in South Beach, want the county to consider other routes.

  • Carr tells Axios he fears the Baylink proposal, which would extend across Fifth Street to Washington Avenue, would create an eyesore at the entrance to South Beach.
  • He and other residents created a website that proposes relocating the Baylink to span the Julia Tuttle Causeway and 41st Street.
  • "The county needs to look at all options here, which it has failed to do," Carr said.

Between the lines: Some Miami Beach commissioners also seem hesitant to support the project at this time, saying they need more information about the solicitation for proposals and renderings.

  • Both residents and commissioners have expressed concerns about the potential that the county imposes higher-density zoning along the transit line.

Of note: A county transportation spokesperson tells Axios no zoning impacts are anticipated for the city.

The other side: Higgins, whose district includes South Beach, said the project has widespread support and would transform the way people get around the county.

  • "I live across a Metromover stop," she said. "My life is better for it, not worse, because I'm not stuck in traffic all the time."

Reality check: The county doesn’t need approval from the city or residents to move forward with the project, which is expected to be paid for by the county and state, Higgins said.

What we're watching: The county planned a meeting last month to discuss the Baylink with community members, but it was canceled due to venue capacity restraints and traffic congestion from the Miami International Boat Show. The county has yet to reschedule it.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Miami.

More Miami stories