Mi­ami-Dade's SMART plan pre­sented to Pres­i­dent Trump

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - Staff and Wire Re­port

WASH­ING­TON — Mi­ami-Dade County Com­mis­sion Chair­man Este­ban Bovo Jr. met with Pres­i­dent Trump and other fed­eral of­fi­cials in­clud­ing U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Elaine Chao in the White House on Feb. 12 to dis­cuss the Strate­gic Mi­ami Area Rapid Tran­sit (SMART) Plan.

Dur­ing the Pres­i­dent’s un­veil­ing of his pro­posed In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­porta­tion Plan, Chair­man Bovo ex­pressed the need to de­liver the Mi­ami SMART Plan to ex­pand rapid tran­sit through­out Mi­ami-Dade County in or­der to get our res­i­dents out of grid­lock.

The SMART Plan is an in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment pro­gram of projects to im­prove trans­porta­tion in Mi­ami-Dade County.

The Mi­ami-Dade County Com­mis­sion on Feb. 6 gave fi­nal ap­proval to an or­di­nance to cre­ate a fund­ing source for the SMART Plan to ex­pand rapid tran­sit. Bovo was the or­di­nance’s prime spon­sor.

The lo­cally des­ig­nated Tax In­cre­ment Fi­nanc­ing district (known as TIF) will al­low the county to use fu­ture eco­nomic growth in ad val­orem rev­enue with­out rais­ing the tax rate to help fund the six SMART Plan rapid tran­sit cor­ri­dors: the Beach, East-West, Ken­dall, North, North­east cor­ri­dors and the South Dade Tran­sit­way.

“I think about the res­i­dents of our com­mu­nity, the la­bor force, who strug­gle each day to make their daily commutes,” said Bovo. “We are work­ing ag­gres­sively to make the Mi­ami SMART Plan a re­al­ity. We re­cently passed TIF [Tax In­cre­ment Fi­nanc­ing] leg­is­la­tion that en­cour­ages tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment along the pro­posed cor­ri­dors. This type of pol­icy change along­side a strong lo­cal, state, and fed­eral fund­ing com­mit­ment will al­low Mi­ami-Dade County to de­liver not only new tran­sit op­tions but ad­dress is­sues re­lated to work­force hous­ing and re­siliency.”

The Pres­i­dent gave his com­mit­ment to help­ing Mi­ami-Dade get through the fed­eral reg­u­la­tory process that in­cludes both en­vi­ron­men­tal and trans­porta­tion per­mits, which his­tor­i­cally have caused ma­jor de­lays.

It wasn’t Bovo’s first trip to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal about the SMART Plan. He vis­ited in July to dis­cuss Mi­ami- SMART Plan with mem­bers of Congress and Depart­ment heads, in­clud­ing Con­gress­man Mario Diaz-Balart and La­bor Sec­re­tary Alexan­der Acosta. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s lon­gawaited in­fra­struc­ture plan calls for giv­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies the au­thor­ity to sell off air­ports, roads and other fed­eral as­sets.

The pres­i­dent is call­ing for di­vest­ing as­sets when fed­eral agen­cies can show the sale would “op­ti­mize tax­payer value.”

The pro­posal lists Ron­ald Rea­gan Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Air­port and Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port as ex­am­ples of the types of as­sets that could meet the cri­te­ria. Both are lo­cated in Vir­ginia.

“Trump isn’t try­ing to fix our in­fra­struc­ture, he’s try­ing to sell it off ,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va.

Trump is also cit­ing two ma­jor road­ways in the Wash­ing­ton D.C. re­gion that could be sold: the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Me­mo­rial and Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton park­ways. The Na­tional Park Ser­vice main­tains both.

The pres­i­dent’s plan said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment owns and op­er­ates cer­tain in­fra­struc­ture that would be more ap­pro­pri­ately owned by the pri­vate sec­tor or by states and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Trump’s in­fra­struc­ture pro­posal said that agen­cies sell­ing fed­eral prop­erty would have to show how the pro­ceeds would be spent, iden­tify the ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tions un­der which sales could be made, and con­duct an analysis show­ing the in­crease in value that re­sulted from the di­vesti­ture.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DAI­LYMAIL.COM

From left, New Mex­ico Gov. Su­sana Martinez, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Vicks­burg, Miss., Mayor Ge­orge Flaggs Jr., Sec­re­tary of Trans­porta­tion Elaine Chao, Neb. Gov. Pete Rick­etts, Este­ban Bovo Jr., Mi­ami-Dade County, Com­mis­sioner, and Wi­chita, Kansas...

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