Transportation fight in Miami-Dade goes ballistic

There’s been plenty of frustration over the lack of mass transit expansion in Miami-Dade County, but now some people in high places are taking drastic measures.

Three mayors, a Miami-Dade County commissioner, a Coral Gables commissioner and the chairman of the Miami-Dade state house delegation, Kionne McGhee, are holding a press conference at 3 p.m. on Wednesday to unveil plans to jar loose funding for Miami-Dade’s SMART plan, which would expand rail service to six corridors.

County Commissioner Xavier Suarez will unveil legislation and the threat of litigation to force the use of the county’s half penny sales tax for transit to be used for capital improvement programs rather than subsidizing service. (Adding service is what voters were told would happen when the tax was enacted about a decade ago.) The plans would shift $95.12 million of half cent revenue from the proposed 2018-2019 budget into capital plans.

The problem is that shift would create a big hole in the operating budget for existing services unless they are cut or other funding sources are found.

The press conference also will pressure the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to devote money for mass transit at a time when its priority seems to be expanding the Dolphin Expressway further south, which has sparked a lot of controversy. The Legislature has previously indicated it would like MDX to use excess revenue to fund mass transit.

“It should be noted that the non-obligated yearly revenues of the CITT [Citizens Independent Transportation Trust] and MDX exceed a quarter billion dollars a year, which if pledge to issue bonds, would just about cover the entire capital cost of the SMART plan, using a conservative multiplier of 14-to-1 in bonding capacity to yearly stream of pledged returns,” the press release states.

The other officials participating are Commissioner Vince Lago of Coral Gables, Mayor Peggy Bell of Cutler Bay, Mayor Eugene Flinn of Palmetto Bay and Mayor Joseph Smith of North Miami. Some of those cities would benefit from a rail line going south along U.S. 1 toward Homestead or commuter service being added to the Florida East Coast Railway, which has the Brightline service.

Tri-Rail has long suggested that the FEC host a commuter service from Miami to Palm Beach Gardens, and momentum has been growing recently for a service from the new Brightline station in downtown Miami to Aventura.

“We demand funding now, with existing streams of revenue that have been misused for a decade and a half,” the press release states.


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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.