UPDATED July 14 11:50 a.m.: Miami Beach city commissioners on Wednesday directed City Manager Jimmy Morales to begin talks with the French rail firm, Alstom, on an interim agreement that could eventually lead to a light rail system being built in South Beach that could lead to a Baylink system crossing the MacArthur Causeway and connect with a similar system on the mainland.
Alstom’s project, called the Greater Miami Tramlink Partnership, is the leading bidder among three the city considered. City commissioners directed Morales to carry out similar talks with the secondary bidder, Connect Miami Beach, if the Alstom talks don’t succeed and if those talks fall through, with the third bidder in the process, Miami Beach Mobility partners.
City Attorney Raul Aguila disclosed that both the Connect Miami Beach and Miami Beach Mobility Partners have filed a bid protest. Any interim agreement would return to the city commission before a final proposal is agreed upon. An interim agreement is expected by March or April of next year.
City officials said their bid proposal is for a streetcar system from 5th Street to Dade Boulevard via Washington Avenue, and that based on a site visit, they judged the Alstom cars to be superior because they are “quiet.”
One commissioner, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, voiced opposition to the project and called on commissioners to “slow it down.” She said there was no guarantee of either the city of Miami or Miami-Dade County eventually linking up with the Miami Beach system. But Mayor Philip Levine, a strong proponent of the system, urged commissioners to act, saying that if Miami Beach did nothing it was unlikely that either the city of Miami or the county would move forward on the proposed Baylink system. “They are looking to us for leadership,” Levine said.