Negotiations Continue on the Miami Beach Light Rail System

Jul 27, 2016

Controversy surrounds the city’s selection process.

Miami and Dade County, Fla., have been examining ways to improve and expand the area’s mass transit system for years. A number of concepts, some traditional, some innovative, have been proposed.

An article in the March 3, 2016, edition of the Miami New Times by Kyle Munzenrieder outlines some of these ideas, which range from expanded ground rail systems to an “aerial cable gondola” suspended above the congestion on the ground.

In the last month, after a lengthy process in which several major construction companies were invited to submit preliminary proposals as a precursor to being invited to negotiate with the city, the City Commissioners of Miami Beach voted to “negotiate an interim agreement” with a French consortium, headed by Alstom, to build a light rail system estimated to cost $380 million.

Joey Flechas, in an article in the July 14, 2016, edition of the Miami Herald, reports on the ongoing negotiations between the city and Alstom.

According to Mr. Flechas, the city envisions an 11-year contract that would pay Alstom $11 million a year for 35 years. Alston has suggested that the yearly cost might be $26 million. Alstom will be paid as “certain milestones” are reached. Much negotiation remains and, apparently, there is no guarantee Alstom will ultimately be awarded the contract.

Although one commissioner, Kristen Rosen Gonzales, has questioned the selection process, the commission as a whole, believes negotiating with Alston will reduce project costs and expedite the preliminary development process.

As might be expected, the other bidders for this work have complained that the city commission has treated them unfairly.

Miami Beach’s selection process is another example of non-traditional selection and bidding processes municipalities and contractors are utilizing for their mutual benefit, and for the benefit of local taxpayers.

The construction industry will be watching to see if the relationship evolving between Alston and Miami Beach will provide a successful template for other projects.


Here are All the Major Miami-Dade Mass-Transit Proposals Under Discussion, Kyle Munzenrieder, Miami New Times, March 3, 2016.

Miami Beach Votes to Negotiate with French Firm for $380 M Light Rail System, Joey Flechas, Miami Herald, July 14, 2016.