Miami-Dade's SMART Plan meets tax dollars, and tensions flare
Since the election-year launch of the Miami-Dade’s “SMART” transit plan, the effort to jumpstart six stalled rail lines across the county has sparked public optimism and warm words from elected officials. Then, on Tuesday, the County Commission tried to hire engineering firms to map out how to turn the plan into reality.
“I don’t know if we even have a plan,” said Commissioner Joe Martinez, who objected to the contract award. “We have six corridors.”
It was an early note of dissension in a discussion that revealed both underlying skepticism about the political battles ahead involving the SMART plan, and the leeriness about spending the millions of dollars needed just to get the multibillion-dollar effort started. After a commission committee endorsed doubling the proposed $11 million fee for a politically connected firm, the full 13-member board backed off after a last-minute objection from Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
“I like a lower number,” Gimenez said, after his transit director, Alice Bravo, had praised the flexibility of the $22 million cap on the contract for Parsons Brinckerhoff. “We also don’t want to send the signal we’re spending all this money on studies.”