A monorail connecting Miami and Miami Beach? County agrees to fund planning.

Miami-Dade County commissioners entered into a $14 million interim agreement with the Miami Beach Monorail Consortium to fund 18 months of engineering and design planning work.

MIAMI – New artist renderings show a proposed monorail that would run along the MacArthur Causeway, connecting downtown Miami to Miami Beach.

They come from the Miami Beach Monorail Consortium, the main investor of which is Meridiam, the development firm that also managed the PortMiami tunnel project.

Miami-Dade County commissioners decided Tuesday to enter into a $14 million interim agreement with the consortium to fund a year and a half of engineering and design planning work. Not all community stakeholders were on board, but the item ultimately passed by a 10-2 vote.

The fact that it’s an interim agreement means that it authorizes planning work over 18 months. After that, a final plan and budget would have to go before the commission again.

“A transit solution for the beach corridor has been more than three decades in the making and we are so pleased that the commission overwhelmingly voted in favor of taking this important step,” Christopher Hodgkins, senior advisor for Meridiam and CEO of the PortMiami Tunnel, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Miami-Dade County administration and the community over the next 12 to 18 months to lay critical planning, engineering and budgeting groundwork for the Miami Beach Monorail. Our goal remains to bring a sustainable and accessible monorail to serve both residents and visitors, while generating thousands of jobs for locals.”

Also part of the consortium, which began as an unsolicited proposal in 2019, is Genting, a Malaysia-based company that in 2011 bought the Miami Herald’s former waterfront site in hopes of building a destination resort casino. State lawmakers have yet to approve the kind of gambling their grand vision called for.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber called this a “vendor-driven process,” saying “the reason this idea is here is because Genting had a plot of land they wanted to figure out what to do with.”

After the commission’s decision, Gelber released a statement that said: “Notwithstanding good intentions, I’m disappointed the county commission rushed into a plan that we will likely be living with for decades, if not generations. This option preempts any chance for a preferred ‘one-seat’ ride to and from our city, and experts say it will result in lower passenger usage and longer travel times. It should be of no surprise that a vendor-driven process always seems to end with the vendor winning the bid.”

Last week, Miami Beach passed a resolution asking commissioners to defer considering the agreement, citing integration and connectivity issues and an ineffective travel time of 28-30 minutes.

One amendment to the agreement asks county administration to negotiate the expansion plan of the studies to be performed by the consortium to explore adding one more station stop in Miami Beach, to go all the way down to Washington Avenue. The original language in the agreement has the studies stopping at the end of the causeway.

Fast facts

(Courtesy of the Miami Beach Monorail Consortium)

  • Expected delivery date: 2026
  • Length: The monorail would extend approximately 3.45 miles on the south side of the MacArthur Causeway.
  • Capacity: There would be two trains constantly operating, with one spare, each holding up to 300 riders.
  • Speed: The trains would run at 50mph, serving 12 trips per hour
  • Fares: The consortium would work with the county to set a fare that provides the best value for residents and is integrated into existing ridership programs.
  • Connectivity: The monorail’s mainland transit hub would serve as a stop for the County Bus and People Mover.

More information

Beach Corridor Preliminary Engineering Report

Appendix for the Preliminary Engineering Report

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."