Jan 19, 2024 - News

Miami's airport is in disrepair. Fixes are coming, mayor says

The Skytrain at Miami International Airport passes by the runway.

The Skytrain at Miami International Airport in 2010. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Upgrades are coming to Miami International Airport amid criticism — and finger pointing — about the current state of disrepair at the airport.

Driving the news: At a press conference yesterday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava touted $1.7 billion in deferred maintenance projects and another $7 billion in capital projects.

  • She blamed previous administrations for delaying needed improvements, though she has been in county office — now as mayor and previously as a commissioner — since 2014.

Why it matters: MIA is the county's biggest economic driver, and in the past, local leaders have expressed fears over the possible threat of a state takeover.

The problems: MIA's Skytrain, which transports passengers around the mile-long Concourse D, shut down in September due to structural issues. (It has forced some passengers to walk as much as a mile to their gates, though a free shuttle is also available.)

  • The first repair phase is expected to be completed by the end of March, Levine Cava said, which would bring about two-thirds of the elevated train system back online.
  • Phase two is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The total cost of the repairs to the 13-year-old train is over $4 million, according to an MIA presentation.

What else: About 7% of MIA's over 600 elevators, escalators and moving walkways are out of service on any given day, the Miami Herald reports.

  • Ralph Cutié, director of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, told the Herald he hopes to cut that figure in half.
  • The commission approved nearly $700 million in contracts last year to repair or replace aging systems, the newspaper reported.

What they're saying: The press conference was held a few days after CBS Miami reporter Jim DeFede asked his social media followers whether MIA was "the worst run airport in America."

  • "I've seen people in tears because their elderly relatives are forced to walk a mile from gate D60 to baggage claim," he wrote. "Where is the accountability?"

Levine Cava appears to have seen some of the online chatter.

  • "I want to be clear — we're not here today because of a few tweets," she said, according to prepared remarks of the speech provided to Axios. "We're not here because of a couple elevators or escalators."
  • "We're here because I have prioritized deferred maintenance since day one — and we welcome the opportunity to talk about the record-breaking year MIA just had and our historic investments to make our airport future ready."
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