Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade readies for a shake-up at transit arm

A top executive at the city of Miami has been offered the top job at Miami-Dade’s transit department in a change that has the veteran director resigning and the county’s mayor promising to address transportation options “more aggressively.”

Alice Bravo, deputy city manager for Miami, reportedly is in line to replace veteran transit chief Ysela Llort in a senior position within the administration of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Bravo’s offer was first reported by CBS 4, and the Miami Herald confirmed the report through several sources. A top Miami official said Friday that Bravo had not yet formally accepted the offer.

Bravo and Llort could not be reached Friday evening. Bravo is a former state transportation official whose portfolio in Miami includes the city’s public-works and infrastructure arms. Llort said in a resignation letter that she would remain on the job until July 31.

The apparent shake-up comes as Miami-Dade leaders face increasing criticism over traffic and a transit system that excluded much of the suburbs from its rail system. “Transportation has become the lightning rod in our community,” said Daniella Levine Cava, a county commissioner representing southern Miami-Dade. “There isn’t a meeting on policy where transportation is not brought up.”

Llort, a veteran of county government, has run transit for Gimenez since he was elected in 2011. Before that, she was an assistant county manager overseeing transit when the department faced an accounting scandal that resulted in Miami-Dade having its transportation grants frozen by Washington. Earlier this year, Miami-Dade paid $10 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit launched by a senior transit executive who reported wrongdoing and then was fired.

In her letter of resignation, Llort touted accomplishments under her tenure, including extending Metrorail to Miami International Airport. She also credited Gimenez with being a “stalwart supporter of transit for the benefit of our residents and businesses.”

Gimenez praised her clean-up efforts with federal officials, who recently lifted restrictions for most transportation grants. “She has provided leadership during very challenging times,” Gimenez wrote to commissioners on Friday. “Her extensive professional experience was an integral component in our success in concluding all outstanding issues with the Federal Transit Agency.”

In the memo, Gimenez did not mention a search. He said he would spend time reviewing the county’s transportation system during “the coming weeks.” A source with the city of Miami said Gimenez offered Bravo a position that would oversee both transit and public works for the county.

“In appointing our next Transit Director,” Gimenez continued, “I will be pursuing options that more aggressively and globally address the connection between all modes of surface mobility.”

Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.