Thursday, July 25, 2024

Amid infrastructure woes, $600M approved for MIA fixes: ‘You will see a significant difference’

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MIAMI – Miami-Dade Commissioners took action Wednesday to address malfunctioning escalators and elevators at Miami International Airport.

Phil Levine, a frequent international traveler from Miami, shared his frustration with the airport’s condition.

“A lot of these people are coming from Latin America, which is where I travel to, and I find the airports there to be impeccable. Maybe they should follow that model,” Levine said. “In certain areas, there is a lack of air conditioning. It could be better maintained. It is just not a positive first impression of Miami.”

Levine specifically noted the mechanical walkways, stating that about half of them don’t work and he mocked the signs that read “modernization in progress.”

“I’d be happy without the modernization, just if it worked,” he said.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Kevin Cabrera, whose district includes MIA, addressed these concerns during Wednesday’s airport committee meeting.

“I feel your pain and I hear you loud and clear. I have been here for about a year and a half and can tell you since day one making sure we have a first-class airport, not just in cargo, not just in the number of flights, but in customer service and the experience. That is why I sponsored that $600 million investment in renovating and renovating and remodeling and replacing all of the escalators, elevators, and conveyances, moving walkways at the airport, to make sure they are moving properly,” said Cabrera.

Commissioners passed the ordinance Cabrera sponsored on Wednesday to streamline the process of securing state grant dollars for airport improvements.

Read the ordinance by clicking here.

Cabrera said the ordinance also includes more reporting of the improvement projects underway.

“We get a monthly capital improvement report from the airport, and one of the things the ordinance does is add to that report all the infrastructure improvements we are doing and updates on them, whether it be elevators, escalators, moving walkways, all of the conveyances,” he said.

The resolution directs Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to hire an engineering firm to evaluate all of MIA’s infrastructure.

MIA CEO and Airport Director Ralph Cutié explained the complexity of the ongoing capital improvement projects.

He noted that the airport has more than 600 conveyance units — including elevators, escalators, and moving walkways — some of which require custom parts that must be manufactured.

“An escalator or a moving walkway has more than 12,000 parts,” Cutié said. “We are expecting to start receiving parts for the first units later this year, in November,”

“The plan is to do 30 modernizations per year, as they start getting done, you are going to see less and less of things being down but obviously we are not there yet because this first year has been mainly surveying, engineering, etc slowly you will see units put back in service,” Cutié added.

Cabrera assured that significant improvements would be visible within the next six months to a year as the new units are installed.

“Take for example the elevators. A lot of these elevators, particularly the ones in the garages, are over 40 years old. The lifespan of an elevator is 20 years, so again, we are fixing things that were complied over time and it is going to take a little bit of time to get there but we are moving quickly and we expect you to see a difference in the next 6-months to a year, you will see a significant difference at the airport as we get into a rhythm of switching out these units,” said Cabrera.

Read the resolution by clicking here.

Following public outcry over a viral video showing green liquid pouring from the airport’s ceilings, commissioners also shared their commitment to addressing infrastructure issues at MIA.

“That is the result of what I know you recently saw, we had a pipe that burst, and this is trying to get ahead of that, making sure we are playing offense instead of defense. We know this is the first thing people see when they come to our County and we want to make sure it is a good first impression and good last impression as they go back home,” said Cabrera.

The items voted on by the airport committee Wednesday will now go before the full board of county commissioners for a vote at their next meeting.

Read Cabrera’s list of sponsored improvements for MIA in the document below.

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