Miami to Miami Beach light rail under discussion again

South Florida could have one more key link in its regional mass transit system if Miami Beach officials revive a plan for a light rail system to the mainland.

Miami Beach public works officials have had very preliminary talks with Spain’s FEVE, which stands for Ferrocarriles de Via Estrecha (narrow gauge railway) about building a light rail system.

FEVE operates most of Spain’s 777 miles of one-meter gauge railway, according to a Wikipedia description. Most of the lines are near the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay.

Instead of using constant overhead wires like most traditional trolleys, the Miami Beach system’s trains could pop up their rooftop pentagraphs and recharge via overhead lines just while stopping at stations, Miami Beach transportation manager José González said. There may be other options as well for an underground electric system.

Light rail to Miami Beach could connect with Metrorail and Metromover in downtown Miami and potentially All Aboard Florida’s high speed rail station near the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. There’s also the possibility of Tri-Rail putting commuter service on the Florida East Coast Railway, which All Aboard would use for its route.

Add in transportation systems like the planned Wave trolley in downtown Fort Lauderdaleand the region’s haphazardly developed mass transit systems could finally be a coherent interconnected system.

González said the initial thought is that the light rail system would follow the previously planned path of the Baylink project and go over the MacArthur Causeway. Another option would be going over the Julia Tuttle Causeway, but there is less transit connectivity on the mainland compared with downtown Miami.

The light rail system could help fuel redevelopment of Watson Island, which is home to Jungle Island and the Miami Children’s Museum. Flagstone planned the $400 million Island Gardens project with two hotels on the south side of Watson Island. I’ve left messages with a couple of sources to see if Island Gardens is happening, since I haven’t seen any news about it recently.

The location for Island Gardens has great views of the water and could include a mega yacht marina, but it would clearly be much more attractive to visitors if they could hop on a light rail system and go to South Beach or downtown Miami.

Source:  South Florida Business Journal