MIAMI-DADE Transit Authority has appointed a prime consultant to assist with development of the long-planned east-west metro route. HNTB Corp will help with engineering design and undertake initial environmental impact studies.

Construction of the 27·4 km line forms part of a multi-million dollar expansion programme approved by local voters in November 2002. A sales tax increase from 6·5% to 7% is generating US$160m a year to fund the so-called People’s Transportation Plan, which includes construction of 143 km of rapid transit lines.

The east-west line would run from the city centre to Miami International Airport and the western suburbs. Interchange would be provided with MetroRail’s existing north-south route at Government Center and with Tri-Rail’s commuter rail services at the Miami Intermodal Center near the airport. Originally expected to open in 2015, the line is now planned for completion in July 2012. An extension to Florida International University will follow in 2013.

A second new line, known as the Northern Corridor, would run from MIC to the Broward County line, serving the Northside Shopping Center, the city of Opa-locka and the Pro-Player Stadium. Expected to open by the end of 2012, this would interchange with Metrorail’s existing line at Earlington Heights and Martin Luther King stations.

Other projects in the PTP include an 8 km light rail link to Miami Beach, which is not expected to open before 2023. Four other corridors have been identified for studies. n