Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MVB's BayLink Monorail Solution: It's half the cost we thought it would be!

The Internet is a wondrous place for ideas. Like-thinking individuals or groups can easily find each other because of key words. "Monorail" brought a retired engineer with over 40-years of building monorails in the Far East to MVB. He likes our concept of connecting Miami to Miami Beach with a monorail that runs at grade along the MacArthur Causeway and then along the sand of Miami Beach. He likes it so much that he took time to give our conceptual solution real world numbers. And we're glad he did. For one, our estimate to build a monorail BayLink connection is about $10 million less per mile than we thought it would be. This is what he came up with:
  • It's 8.6 miles long,
  • The Miami run is a 4.4 mile one-way single beam rising from and returning to the Watson Island station (for system costing it is considered equivalent to 2.2 miles of dual-beam two-way run),
  • The MacArthur Causeway at-grade run is 3.1 miles long,
  • The Miami Beach run is a two-way dual beam 3.3 miles long.

  • Estimated cost: $370 million.
  • As structured under the original BayLink plan, the Feds pick up half the cost ($185 million)
  • State picks up ¼: $92.5 million
  • County picks up ¼: $92.5 million
  • Cost per mile per county share: $10.8 million.
  • Construction time: 30-36 months with an additional 6-months for testing.

Our consultant wants it known that "the proposal has given thought on how to mitigate the impact of construction on existing road traffic. It is suggested that serious consideration be given during the design stage to evaluate the feasibility of using single large bored pile foundation and column as a contiguous structure. The columns could be clad externally to better embrace some art form that befits the local ambiance."

The 3.1 mile MacArthur Causeway run and the 3.3 mile long north-south run along the sands of Miami Beach takes advantage of a unique set of conditions found only here. Instead of disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over many years while tearing up miles and miles of streets to lay trolley car tracks and to realign underground utilities, 80% of our solution runs where none of the aforementioned problems exist: on the south side of the MacArthur and over beach sand. Unlike the current default BayLink plan, archaic, lane-hogging, slow-moving trolley cars with their ugly overhead power lines will not be forced onto narrow streets with stations every few blocks. Our approach is to get people from one side of Biscayne Bay to the other as quickly as possible with a minimum of stops. Of course, besides stops at Lincoln Road/Beach and the Convention Center/Live Nation Theater, our monorail stops at Carnival Center, American Airlines Arena, Museum Park and, although it doesn't currently exist, the "Grand Central Station of the American Pastime." Our design makes it possible to take a commuter train on the FEC tracks all the way from Palm Beach to the Miami Beach Convention Center with only one transfer.

Although it isn't cheap, we are suggesting sharing the costs to build and maintain it through a joint venture between public and private enterprise. We are also advocating directing the $200 million allocated for building a downtown Miami streetcar towards the BayLink monorail.

All it takes is a little vision on the part of the people and their elected officials. MVB from the get-go has seen itself as a gadfly (or roach) regarding our community. Not content just to post ideas, we are pro-active in trying to get others to see things our way. Most elected officials have been contacted and, believe it or not, we may have actually convinced at least one Miami Beach commission candidate to see it our way. Only time will tell.

Until then, remember the MVB rallying cry: Free our streets! Grab the Vision and lets Monorail!


Xavier said...

Regarding this:
"The 3.1 mile MacArthur Causeway run and the 3.3 mile long north-south run along the sands of Miami Beach takes advantage of a unique set of conditions found only here."

This would be a first, right? Is it feasible? I can't think of any other elevated rail system running over sand.

Verticus S. Erectus said...

It would be the first in the Western world. God knows what they might be building in the desert sands of the oil-rich Arab world. Regarding its feasiblility: why not? Set your footings deep enough and anything can be built there. It's done all the time in south Florida.

Xavier said...

It's definitely feasible. Especially considering what's happening in the UAE. The cost would be high, but the attention it would draw would be immense. You know environmentalists would freak out at the idea of an elevated rail line on the sand.

b.a.c said...

When it gets to the beach why not run it street level similar to all the trams that run in Europe. If raising it is gonna block buildings and art then keep it grounded. Trams look pretty sweet all throughout EU if you ask me. And damn convenient.