Getting ready to bow out as chairman of the U.S. House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., was able to help bring almost $10 million of U.S. Department of Transportation funds to Miami Dade County this week.
On Thursday, Diaz-Balart announced that Miami-Dade County was getting $9.5 million in a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the department. Diaz-Balart also looked back on the help he offered South Florida during his tenure as chairman of the subcommittee. With the Democrats taking over the House next month, Diaz-Balart is losing the gavel on the subcommittee.
“As House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee chairman, I am grateful to be in a position to bring much-needed dollars home,” Diaz-Balart. “For years, I have told the county that I am willing and able to help fund their transit needs, once a viable plan had been submitted. To their credit the county has finally taken real, tangible steps forward with the SMART Plan over the last several months, and I commend their progress. As the county continues to work with DOT, specifically the Federal Transit Administration, on the project development phase of the South Corridor Rapid Transit Project, I stand ready to assist in any way possible.
“True to my word, in my working with the Administration and with the county’s application moving forward at DOT, here is the first installment of federal dollars to compliment the implementation of the SMART Plan,” he added. “The BUILD grant for Miami-Dade County will help support the continued growth and expansion of the South-Dade Transitway corridor. Specifically, the grant will help increase capacity at two park-and-ride facilities along the corridor, directly supporting the County TPO’s vote to move toward bus-rapid transit. Expanding transit in our community is critical to alleviating the traffic and gridlock that we face daily, and I am grateful for these much-needed dollars.”
Diaz-Balart tipped his cap to U.S. Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao for her assistance.
“I thank Secretary Chao for continuing to invest in our community’s transportation sector, and for providing the county with opportunities to improve and upgrade our infrastructure. I look forward to continue working with her to expand Southern Florida’s transit systems and will keep fighting for the funds necessary to do so,” Diaz-Balart said.
Diaz-Balart’s office showcased his work for South Florida on the transportation fronts including steering $11 million to Miami-Dade County through the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities grant program; another $11 million to Miami International Airport; $7 million to PortMiami through the Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program; $3.6 million to Miami Dade County through the Competitive Bus and Bus Facilities grant program; $13 million for Immokalee’s Complete Streets project; and $31.6 million to the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) for Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, which are serviced by Tri-Rail, through Positive Train Control (PTC) grants.
From his seat on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also helped secure the funds.
“I’m pleased to see that the Department of Transportation has awarded a grant for the Miami-Dade Park & Ride Improvement project,” Rubio said. “This funding is an important step in the implementation of the SMART Plan, and will improve two park-and-ride facilities by resurfacing an existing parking lot, constructing additional sidewalks to improve pedestrian access, and creating additional parking spaces to increase availability and comfort for visitors.”