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Miami Herald - 10/31/03

Metrorail extension is rolling along -

A rail line from the MLK station north to the Broward County line along Northwest 27th Avenue could be completed between 2009 and 2011

By Draeger Martinez

Efforts to create an elevated Metrorail extension between Liberty City and the Broward County line are moving forward, officials said Monday. The North Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee unveiled a revised route for the $800 million extension with completion targeted between 2009 to 2011.

''If we get the necessary approvals and funding, we could start building it between late 2006 and mid-2008, with construction estimated to take at least 2 ½ years,'' Miami-Dade Transit Project Manager Mario García said at the meeting, which took place at Miami Dade College's North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Ave.

''We need to acquire some parcels, and handling the legal questions and design issues will take some time,'' he said, ``but hopefully we can ride the line up to Pro Player Stadium no later than 2011, and it will be there for our children and grandchildren.''

García said the project calls for rail stops about every mile along the 9.6-mile line, which is planned to run through West Little River, Opa-locka and Miami Gardens to the edge of the Broward line.

In 1999, transit officials first proposed building a Metrorail line running roughly parallel to Northwest 27th Avenue. The line would start at the existing MLK station near Northwest 62nd Street and would include new stations roughly at:

 Northwest 82nd Street, near the Northside Shopping Center

 Northwest 103rd Street

 Northwest 119th Street near Miami Dade College's North Campus

 Ali Baba Avenue in Opa-locka

 Northwest 166th Street near the Palmetto Expressway (State Road 826)

 Northwest 183rd Street in Miami Gardens

 Northwest 199th Street near Pro Player Stadium, also in Miami Gardens

 Northwest 214th Street near County Line Road.

In addition, the stations for Ali Baba Avenue and for Northwest 119th, 166th, 183rd and 214th streets would have adjacent park-and-ride lots.

The plan had been stalled for several years but was revised a year ago when Miami-Dade voters approved a half-cent sales tax to pay for county transit projects. Clinton Forbes, an assistant to Miami-Dade Transit Director Danny Alvarez, said the department expects half-cent tax proceeds and state and federal matching grants to fully fund the expansion.

Mary Alice Brown, a former chair of the advisory committee, said she's glad the project will move forward.

''My heart is overflowing right now,'' Brown said at the meeting. ``When the 1999 transit tax effort failed, I thought this dream was dead. But now we're back in business, and I can't wait to ride the new train.''