The Real Deal Miami

Lack of price bidding could leave Miami Beach with a bigger bill for light rail project

Project's original $380 million scope was already halved by city in October
November 08, 2016 03:00PM

Rendering of Alstom's proposed light rail project

Rendering of Alstom’s proposed light rail project

Miami Beach city officials were on a mission earlier this year when they fast-tracked a light rail project that could, eventually, connect the beach to the mainland.

But the city’s haste may have left it in a vulnerable negotiating position.

After a months-long bidding process among three contenders, city commissioners in July chose Miami Tramlink Partners to build a light-rail system in South Beach, according to the Miami Herald. But the partnership, led by French transportation firm Alstom, was judged by its train car designs and technology — not its proposal’s estimated price.

By choosing a winning proposal without first letting the bidders compete in terms of pricing, the city may end up swallowing a higher cost because it has weaker bargaining power, In The Public Interest founder Donald Cohen told the Herald.

The project’s original $380 million scope was already halved by cost-conscious city officials in October, paring it down to an estimated $244 million and scrapping half of the proposed South Beach loop.

Mayor Philip Levine contended that the city hasn’t made a commitment and can cancel the negotiations at any time if necessary.

A commission vote on the language of an interim agreement with Miami Tramlink Partners was pushed back from Wednesday to December. [Miami Herald]Sean Stewart-Muniz