Vote Could Mean Billions In Funding For Miami’s Smart Rail Plan

A vote last week by a Miami-Dade board could mean billions in funding for the county’s Smart plan to build a mass-transit system.

In 2002, county voters approved an extra half-percent sales tax, with promises that it would be used to expand Metrorail.

The tax now generates $290 million per year. The county commission has been using at least $95 million of it to maintain the system, rather than expand it, however.

That may now be changing.

The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust voted to last week to block the use of those fund for maintenance, and require that it be used for expansion as originally promised, according to the Herald. Those funds will be available for expansion one year from now, unless the county commission votes by a two-thirds majority to override the CITT vote.

Miami-Dade commissioners Xavier Suarez wrote that the county could issue up to $1.8b in bonds based on the annual revenue from those funds. That would cover around half the construction costs of the $3.6b Smart plan.

The vote last week is said to be unprecedented, with little reaction from county officials. Miami-Dade transit chief Alice Bravo threatened though that redirecting the funds towards expansion could lead to a reduction in service from transit or other departments.