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Federal grant to boost UniversityCity, a transportation hub planned for FIU

Federal grant to boost UniversityCity, a transportation hub planned for FIU

FIUGoldenPanthers2008A public-private partnership led by Florida International University (FIU) has won an $11.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve connectivity between the university’s west Miami-Dade campus, the neighboring city of Sweetwater and other parts of Miami- Dade County.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program grant will allow FIU and its partners, including the Miami-Dade Transportation Authority, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Florida Department of Transportation, City of Sweetwater, IBM and engineering firm T.Y. Lin International, to move forward with UniversityCity.

The project is of regional significance because it will create a transit-oriented development district, while connecting east and west Miami-Dade County, further solidifying FIU and its surrounding neighborhoods as the innovation, cultural and athletic center for west Miami Dade. UniversityCity was conceived as a $124 million project that will link the Modesto A. Maidique Campus to bus rapid transit (BRT), Miami International Airport and other key points in South Florida. The TIGER grant will allow for work to begin immediately on the following elements of the project:

• A pedestrian bridge across SW Eighth Street, and streetscape enhancements linking the Modesto A. Maidique Campus with neighboring Sweetwater at 109th Avenue, where a privately funded student-focused housing apartment building already is under construction. A second residential option for FIU students is in development.

• Access improvements to the entrances of the Modesto A. Maidique Campus and to the 109th Avenue area in Sweetwater, across from campus.

• Smart Parking Software System in partnership with IBM that would alert smart phone users as to available spaces in a new FIU garage. The same application would contain real-time information about transportation, including the new advanced bus system with which Miami-Dade Transit is planning to connect west Miami-Dade County with the Miami Intermodal Center at the airport.

“UniversityCity will be one of the most tangible, meaningful solutions we help provide for South Floridians because it involves improved transportation, jobs and economic development,” said FIU president Mark B. Rosenberg. “It took our entire congressional delegation and the hard work of many at FIU, as well as in the City of Sweetwater, Miami-Dade County, and the State of Florida to put together this winning proposal.”

UniversityCity is one of several transportation projects funded this year by TIGER grants, including two others in Florida

“This is great news for the UniversityCity project,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Thanks to this TIGER funding, FIU students will be able to walk from their student housing to class through a pedestrian bridge across Southwest Eighth Street.

“The innovative technological upgrades to the FIU garage will make it easier to find parking and check the BRT schedule. More jobs will be created in our community thanks to this grant, and I look forward to celebrating the project’s success with everyone in South Florida,” she added.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, whose district includes FIU, said he is pleased with the grant.

“I commend the leadership and vision of president Rosenberg, as we work together to enrich FIU and the South Florida community,” Garcia said.

For more information about FIU, visit online at www.fiu.edu

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