Work Begins On Metrorail Extension
Extension Will Connect Airport To Downtown Miami
POSTED: Friday, May 1, 2009
MIAMI -- Workers are breaking ground Friday on a new extension of the Metrorail line that brings the Intermodal Center at Miami International Airport one step closer to reality.
Plenty of pomp and circumstance surrounded the groundbreaking ceremony for the 2.4-mile extension of the Metrorail.
"This is the first major extension of our Metrorail system in over 20 years," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. "We cannot minimize the importance of it. This will actually close the loop from the airport -- Miami International Airport, the third-busiest airport in the United States -- to downtown Miami.
The Earlington Heights connector will link downtown Miami with the Miami International Airport through the Miami Intermodal Center, which is currently under construction and set to open in 2010. Once the connection is built, it will be a straight shot to downtown. All riders will have to do is get off at the Brickell stop or stay on the line to Coconut Grove or even Dadeland South, Local 10's Todd Tongen reported.
The bulk of the $526 million project will be financed by the People's Transportation Plan, a controversial half-cent tax that was approved in 2002 after politicians made some promises they never delivered, Tongen reported.
On Friday, politicians admitted an east-west corridor has been a long time coming, but when it is finished, it will be good for business.
"Half of our passengers are business travelers. So they are coming here to do business primarily in downtown, and now you have a very quick and easy way to get straight to downtown," said MIA spokesman Greg Chin. "In one business day, you can fly in, go to downtown and fly out the same day."
Outspoken critics of the tax, like Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Jimenez, are lobbying to repeal the tax, something that did not sit well with the mayor.
"Quite frankly, I find that irresponsible because we wouldn't be here today. We wouldn't even be here to connect the MIC to the Earlington Heights station, connect this loop, if it wasn't for that surtax," Alvarez said.
Jimenez was not at Friday's announcement.
Work also has begun on the MIA Mover, an electric tram that will connect the airport with the Miami Intermodal Center.
If the project runs on time, the Earlington Heights connector will open in 2012. When it is finished, it will not only cut down congestion, but it could change the way people visit Miami.
"Especially for tourists that don't want to catch a bus or don't want to rent a car and they want easier access to their hotel downtown and whatnot, so I think it will be good for the city," said Metrorail user Giovanni Carbo.
Check out the video since it contains renderings of the Miami InterModal Center next to the airport:
So Miami joins a exclusive club of US cities with heavy rail connections to their airports. What other cities besides NYC, Chicago and SF are there?
We have been waiting years for this so don't mind the obligatory