Miami Beach

Miami Beach wants change to county transportation board

Miami Beach’s seal hangs over the dais at City Hall.
Miami Beach’s seal hangs over the dais at City Hall. Miami Herald Staff

Miami Beach city commissioners want to change the structure of Miami-Dade county’s transportation planning board.

At Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Philip Levine proposed lobbying the Florida Legislature to reduce the membership on the governing board of Miami-Dade’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Levine sits on the board, which currently has 23 members.

The MPO is tasked with developing countywide transportation strategy, and it addresses topics like mass transit across the bay to the Beach. Levine said it’s hard for him to push this initiative forward — bus transit in the short-term and light rail in the long term — with a large board that has representatives from several municipalities and the full Board of County Commissioners.

“There’s a lot of great people on the board. Fabulous county commissioners, fabulous mayors and commissioners,” he said. “But there’s twenty-something of them. It’s very unwieldy. It’s very difficult to get anything done.”

Commissioner Ed Tobin, who once sat on the MPO, agreed with Levine. But he wondered if a smaller board is the only way to make it more efficient.

“I just wonder if there’s any other ways of them tweaking besides limiting the amount of people on there,” he said.

Levine said some kind of reform is necessary and suggested commissioners brainstorm ideas to propose to the Legislature.

“I don’t necessarily have to be on the board,” he said. “I just think that it needs to be restructured so that we can get things done.”

In other business, commissioners voted to waive competitive bidding to quickly pay Orlando transportation consulting firm GMB Engineers & Planners for a traffic study related to a planned hotel, retail and marina project on Miami’s Watson Island.

The project is a sore spot for many in Miami Beach, who predict it will create a traffic nightmare on the MacArthur Causeway. The commission, with support from many residents who have spoken out against the project, previously agreed to set aside $200,000 for the study.

City Attorney Raul Aguila reiterated the city’s urgency to get a completed study. He has said having a study would help the Beach should it need go into mediation with the city of Miami over the project.

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