Tampa’s Surging Growth Leads to Big Moves in Transportation

By staff writer

May 2019

Tampa’s growth from mid-2017 to mid-2018 propelled it into the top tier of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, according to figures released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Tampa had the nation’s ninth largest increase in population among all U.S. metro areas, and the highest level of net domestic migration in 2018, with 132,602 new arrivals from other parts of the U.S.

Along with Orlando, which came in at No. 5, Tampa leads the way in Florida, a state in which the population growth rate was the fourth highest in the United States between July 2017 and July 2018.

All of that growth leads to growing traffic and higher transportation needs. Solving the ground transportation needs isn’t just a concern for the residents of Tampa, as the effects are also felt at local well-known staples like the Tampa International Airport.  “From the standpoint of the airport, we see our passenger traffic doubling over the next 20 years,” said Joe Lopano, CEO for the Tampa International. “That means that the roadways have to be capable of taking our travelers to the beaches or museums or wherever else they want to go. At the present time, they aren’t capable of doing that, so we’re looking for solutions.”

Plans to expand Brightline’s high-speed rail to the city solves one piece of the solution, Lopano said, “but there’s no silver bullet. It’s going to be a combination of things, and the fact that Uber and Lyft exist has enabled rail to be a viable alternative. Ride sharing solves the first-mile, last-mile problem.”

The main question, of course, is how Tampa Bay will deal with the increased traffic. Beth Alden, the executive director for the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning for Transportation, said that local municipalities are heading in the right direction. After convincing the local public that there was a there was “a multi-billion dollar disconnect” between its current spending plans and the realities of the city’s growing transportation needs,  “last November, Hillsborough County’s voters approved a one-penny sales tax, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward transportation investments.” She said it was a watershed moment. “This sales tax will help us achieve our vision for the future of transportation.”

She said that besides building, expanding and fixing roads, the city is also working on improving transportation options for bicycles and pedestrians across the city, expanding pathways on and off barrier islands, and improving intersections. Improving access to alternative fuel sources and trolley systems are another priority.

“When you look at it from a regional standpoint, we’re the gateway to the west coast of Florida,” Lopano said. We have been able to increase our international travel by more than 125 percent since I started. That’s extremely important because every time we bring in a new international live body on a daily basis it generates $154 million in economic impact to our community. That’s critical.’

“Tourism in Florida is extremely important, and we want to be a part of its growth.”

For more information, visit:

Tampa International Airport  
Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning for Transportation


Atlanta’s Transit-Centric Growth

By Sean O’Toole

January 2019

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is gaining popularity across America. TOD seeks to promote more walkable communities by mixing housing, office, retail and recreation space and situating it all within a half-mile of public transportation. The benefits of this kind of development are swift and pronounced. More walkable neighborhoods can lead to healthier and more community-minded residents. TOD also helps with environmental conservation by increasing public transit ridership and reducing the number of cars on the road, which simultaneously reduces traffic congestion. That last benefit is especially attractive in cities like Atlanta with a history of bad traffic.

Since 2017, Atlanta has seen delivery of 1.1 million square feet of office space located within a half mile of a MARTA station. In addition, the multifamily market within a half mile of a MARTA station experienced 68 percent growth in inventory from 2008 to 2017, compared to 19 percent in Metro Atlanta not in proximity to MARTA. With TOD on the rise, Atlantans are seeing more housing options near public transportation, and MARTA is simultaneously building its user base.

“You see transit-oriented development from the influx of Midtown, Downtown and Buckhead areas that have stations,” Arnie Silverman, president of Silverman Construction Program Management, told Focus: Atlanta when he sat down with our team in 2018. “I recently spoke to a business owner who plans to move his office so it can be next to a MARTA station in order to attract millennials.”

MARTA’s first TOD project was the Lindbergh Station, a mixed-use marvel consisting of housing, retail space and public transportation amenities that was completed about 20 years ago. Today, MARTA seeks to expand the city’s TOD footprint with even more such projects that will change Atlanta for the better in numerous ways. For one, more TOD is likely to have a positive impact on fare revenue and new ridership, which is not only good for MARTA but will also help to alleviate congestion and carbon emissions throughout the metro area. In addition, MARTA has vowed to use its TOD projects to eliminate eyesores like abandoned parking lots by turning them into vibrant, mixed-use communities. This type of development will complement other community-oriented projects already underway in Atlanta, such as the BeltLine, which aim to make the city a more interwoven, walkable community.

“A great example of transit-centric growth is the State Farm development,” Jeff Parker, CEO and general manager of MARTA, told Focus:. “Then NCR relocated and wanted to be on a MARTA stop. We have a great opportunity to provide good connectivity between businesses that want to relocate or expand in a vibrant place like Atlanta and grow with the city.”

MARTA currently has six TOD projects in the works, and although all of them are still in the construction or planning phases, a few are nearing the completion of their first stages of development. These projects are the Chamblee Station, Avondale Station, Edgewood/Candler Park  Station, Arts Center Station, King Memorial Station and upgrades to Lindbergh Center Station. All of these stations will include an innovative mix of office, commercial, residential and green space and will further MARTA’s goal of upping ridership while lowering congestion.

In October 2018, Invest Atlanta announced the launch of the city’s first-ever TOD fund — at a total of $15 million — designed to provide affordable capital to support the acquisition and pre-development of workforce housing near MARTA stations and other modes of public transit. Nearly 70 percent of Metro Atlanta’s residents commute to a different county for work every day, and reducing both travel time and cost could save these commuters close to $1,000 annually.

“If we want to make the biggest impact on people’s lives,” Eloisa Klementich, CEO of Invest Atlanta, told Focus:, “we need to lower their costs of transportation and housing. We are investing in transit-oriented development opportunities with the goal of increasing people’s ability to live in this beautiful city.”

With cities like College Park considering transit-oriented zoning and MARTA’s board of directors recently giving the greenlight to a more than $2.5 billion transit expansion, we’re sure to see more TOD projects cropping up across the metro area in 2019 and beyond. Focus: Atlanta will be keeping a close eye on the developments!

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Silverman Construction Program Management: https://silvermancpm.com/

MARTA: https://www.itsmarta.com/

Invest Atlanta: https://www.investatlanta.com/



Port Everglades Sails into a Promising New Year

By staff writer

January 2019

Last year was, arguably, the most dynamic and prosperous year that Port Everglades has ever seen, and the port’s status as a catalyst for Broward’s economy is showing no signs of slowing down. Its growth and development is gaining international attention and generating thousands of jobs for the area.

“Today, Port Everglades is directly responsible for 13,185 jobs and produces over $1 billion in state and local taxes annually,” said Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director Steven Cernak in conversation with Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale. “For us, it’s all about economic impact. That’s the benefit we provide to the community: jobs and economic activity.”

The port attracted 3.87 million passengers in fiscal year 2018, according to its annual report, and this number is bound to increase moving forward.

In the 2019 winter season the port will welcome 10 new Holland America cruise ships, the first of which — Nieuw Statendam debuted at the port in December after sailing from Civitavecchia, Italy. With a capacity of 2,666 cruisers, the ship alone is expected to garner over 102,000 passengers and generate around $1.8 million in revenue.

The influx of Holland America ships to the port comes on the heels of the port’s recent addition of a Celebrity Cruises’ Terminal 25. The facility represents the largest investment ever made by the port, costing around $120 million to build, and will accommodate several Celebrity ships throughout the winter season.

In addition to driving tourism for the area, the port has also blossomed in terms of its cargo capacity, and it has implemented a five-year expansion plan that will entail nearly $1 billion in improvements to the port’s infrastructure to further increase its cargo volumes. This should prove to be a worthwhile investment, as the port experienced a 2 percent increase in bulk and breakbulk cargo tonnage in fiscal year 2018.

When Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale spoke with Craig Mygatt, CEO of Sealand, he highlighted the port’s advantages for transporting goods to and from Latin America, stating that the port’s strength “lies with the north-south routes, especially for perishable and agricultural goods, because the port is good at moving freight through the system quickly.”

As the number one port in Florida in terms of revenue, Port Everglades has successfully positioned itself as an international and economic hub for South Florida. Thanks to its strategic investments and expansions, 2019 is sure to be another banner year for the port.


To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Port Everglades: http://www.porteverglades.net/

Sealand: https://www.sealandmaersk.com/

The Reliability of Natural Gas

By staff writer

January 2019

With the American public concerned about the future of its energy and power source, natural gas remains an immediately viable option. Both domestically and internationally, natural gas is known for being an accessible, reliable and resilient supply network.

The infrastructure for natural gas offers dependable and diverse options. Providers are able to supply gas through pipelines or by shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as other methods, with few technological limitations. For these reasons, natural gas remains one of the more viable energy sources available today.

What’s more, natural gas also happens to be among the precious few commodities in life that have actually gone down in price. Due to the large supply available, natural gas has been decreasing in price for many years now.

“We have over a 100-year supply of natural gas,” Carolyn Bermudez, vice president and general manager at Florida City Gas, told Invest: Miami when she sat down with our team in early December. “We’re seeing some of the lowest prices for natural gas that we’ve ever seen, and because of that, natural gas is being used more now by electric utilities as their fuel source to produce electricity. With supply and demand as high as they currently are, we remain optimistic about the price remaining consistently low.”

Florida City Gas, which joined the NextEra Energy family in July 2018, is one of the largest providers of natural gas in the market. “In the past year, we converted nearly 100 of Miami-Dade Transit’s bus fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG) with more to come in the following years,” Bermudez said.

In addition to improving and investing in infrastructure, Bermudez says that Florida City Gas will continue to focus on prudent and effective cost management: “As Miami-Dade’s communities continue to grow and demand for natural gas service increases, Florida City Gas must meet our commitments to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas to our customers.”

With a new year beginning, many South Florida residents are considering switching to natural gas to power their lives. Florida City Gas is currently offering substantial rebates for residential and commercial customers who switch to natural gas or replace old natural gas appliances.

For more information on our interviewee and FCG’s rebates, visit: https://www.floridacitygas.com/


Tech-Forward Transportation

By staff writer

January 2019 — 2 min. read

Technology has had a significant impact on Orlando’s transportation sector. Various transportation companies have taken important steps towards innovative projects to improve passenger experience and service efficiency. For instance, a group of agencies are developing and testing several smart transportation technologies in the Creative Village complex throughout 2018 and 2019 to enhance pedestrian safety and ease congestion. Creative Village, located in Downtown Orlando, is a mixed-use, transit-oriented, urban infill neighborhood that will be home to the UCF/Valencia Downtown Campus in 2019.

The transit programs will be developed by the Florida Department of Transportation, MetroPlan Orlando and the University of Central Florida (UCF) as a result of a $12 million grant awarded by the Federal Highway Administration. The grant will focus on four major technologies: PedSafe, a pedestrian and bicycle collision avoidance system that digitally connects people, vehicles and traffic lights; GreenWay, which uses traffic signal technology and sensors to help the transportation system adapt to real-time traffic conditions; SmartCommunity, for trip-planning apps; and SunStore, which integrates FDOT data. Operation and maintenance of these projects are expected to continue through 2021.

In addition to group efforts and partnerships, many transit companies are implementing innovative solutions to combat mounting traffic and adjust to the needs of modern passengers. One example of these efforts are the changes made by LYNX, a bus system run by the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

LYNX launched four mobile applications in 2018. “One of them is our LYNX Bus Tracker, a real-time mobile application that allows passengers to track the bus they are waiting to get on,” Edward L. Johnson, CEO of LYNX, told Invest: Orlando when he sat down with our team in early December. “We also developed NeighborLink, a mobile application for our door-to-door bus services for areas with less passenger flow. The technology is similar to Uber and Lyft applications.”

LYNX has also launched the application “See Something/Say Something,” which allows customers to discreetly send a notification to the company’s security offices if something improper is happening in one of its vehicles. LYNX plans to merge the mobile applications in 2019. It is worth noting that LYNX accommodates an average of 90,000 passenger trips daily over an area with a resident population of more than 1.8 million.

Companies like MetroPlan Orlando have reinvented the traditional way of adjusting to the influence of technology. “We are getting ready to update our strategic plan, and we are about to kick off the update of our long-range transportation plan,” Gary Huttmann, MetroPlan’s executive director, told Invest:. “This plan will be different from any other we have seen because of the influence of technology on the work that we do and how we address that looking into the future.”

Among the most anticipated innovative transit projects in Orlando is the arrival of Brightline, with construction set to begin in 2019. This massive project will allow passengers to travel from Orlando to Miami in three hours. Brightline is also in negotiations to add rail service from Orlando to Tampa, which might include stops near Disney World and Lakeland.

This advances in technology and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are expected to reduce mounting traffic and road accidents and bring safer solutions to bikers and pedestrians. As outlined in the Harvard Business Report, McKinsey and Bloomberg New Energy Finance have estimated that in 50 metropolitan areas worldwide, a rapid transition to advanced mobility systems could yield $600 billion in societal benefits through 2030. You can bet that everyone here at Invest: will be keeping a keen eye on the tech-forward transit projects underway in Orlando.

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Lynx: https://www.golynx.com/

MetroPlan Orlando: https://metroplanorlando.org/

For more information contact:
Jaime Muehl
Managing Editor
TEL: 305-523-9708, ext. 230

The Underline is Underway

By staff writer

December 2018 – 2 min. read

December 2018 — Miami’s Underline officially broke ground in November 2018. The city’s version of Manhattan’s famed High Line has already begun phase one of its five-phase development plan, with the first phase currently underway in Brickell. The project, which was proposed just five years ago, has received massive support from the state, city, county and local community and is expected to create thousands of jobs.

The idea for the project originated when Meg Daly — founder and CEO of Friends of the Underline, the nonprofit organization behind the project — suffered a serious injury that forced her to rely on the Metrorail to get to and from physical therapy.

In doing so, she noticed how wide the area under the tracks was and how much shade the tracks offered, and thus the idea for the Underline was born.

“2019 will see construction of the first half mile of the Underline’s Brickell Backyard,” said Daly in a recent conversation with Invest: Miami. “2019 will also see the second phase from Brickell to Coconut Grove in the design phase.”

The park will run for 10 miles underneath Miami’s Metrorail and span over 120 acres, stretching from downtown Miami to Dadeland. It strives to provide an alternative mode of transportation for civilians in the area, as well as foster community engagement and recreation. In addition to offering biking and walking trails, dog parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, the project will also showcase the city’s blooming art scene.

“Led by Friends of the Underline Art Advisory, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places and curated by Ximena Caminos, the Underline’s public art will feature local, national and international emerging and established artists that will engage and connect visitors to place and each other,” Daly told Invest:.

The project’s goal of offering alternative transportation to civilians while also providing ease of access to the city’s metrorail is significant due to the city’s traffic issues. The South Florida Business Journal reported that Miami drivers spent an average of 64.8 hours in traffic last year, according to a report from Intrix Inc., which also estimated that this congestion costs local drivers an average of $1,762 a year.

Given the project’s potential to alleviate some of the city’s traffic and its potential for job creation, it should come as no surprise that it has received massive support at both the state and local levels. Phases one and two have been funded by Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida and the City of Miami. Phase one also yielded funding from the Florida Department of Transportation. Earlier this month, the Knight Foundation awarded Friends of the Underline $500,000. With the total costs of construction estimated to be around $120 million, however, there is still plenty of room for the public to take part in the project.

“Supporters can generously donate at theUnderline.org/donate and/or attend our many community-building events, including health and wellness programs sponsored by Baptist Health South Florida, support of our four-legged friends on February 2, 2019 and attend our upcoming Underline non-gala in the fall 2019,” said Daly.

Phase one is expected to be completed by June 2020. Given the project’s velocity thus far, it shows no signs of delay or slowing down.


For more information on the project, our interviewee and ways to donate, visit www.theunderline.org.

Look, Ma, No Hands!

May 2018 — Last month, the City of Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County and Prototype Prime announced the creation of a city-owned autonomous vehicle track and Advanced Vehicle Technology Accelerator. By January 2019, the $2 million project will create a self-driving shuttle bus on a 1.4-mile stretch of Technology Parkway between Spalding Drive and Peachtree Parkway.

Despite what one might think, the goal of this autonomous shuttle bus is neither to address sustainability nor traffic. Instead, Peachtree Corners envisions this project as a way to propel economic development and attract top companies to the area. While the bus will be limited to only a small number of riders, it will serve as a test site for new AV-related technology. This test site is expected to attract companies focused on future transportation technologies.


Prototype Prime will work as a business incubator, as it is located on the planned 1.4-mile stretch of Technology Park where the autonomous shuttle will run. The company has over 25,000 square feet of space slated to house new startups and serve as the testing hub for future advanced vehicle projects.

In addition to the autonomous shuttle, Prototype Prime will launch the Advanced Vehicle Technology Accelerator in collaboration with TechConnectHub.com. This partnership is meant to foster collaboration among researchers, startups, Fortune 500 companies, local technology companies and corporations to work with the test shuttle.

All of this collaboration makes us wonder: Is the future of driving autonomous? In the last year, a large number of studies have been conducted regarding the impacts of a driverless world. Many studies explore congestion benefits, environmental benefits and even parking benefits.

One May 2017 study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois, University Grenoble Alpes, the University of Arizona, Yale University, Penn State and Rutgers University found that adding just one autonomous vehicle to a mix of 19 normal vehicles lessened “jamiltons,” or traffic waves. Adding just one autonomous car to the mix reduced excessive braking events from 8.58 per vehicle per kilometer to just 0.12 per vehicle per kilometer. In short, autonomous vehicles are so efficient in speed that they reduce human inconsistency and result in much less traffic congestion.

In a heavily congested city such as Atlanta, autonomous driving could be the key to alleviating drivers’ woes. But is autonomous driving the future? The year 2018 is sure to bring many more studies and pilot programs in order to move toward this innovative technology. The Peachtree Corners vehicle track and accelerator program is propelling the future of transportation technology.

To learn more:
City of Peachtree Corners: https://www.peachtreecornersga.gov/
Prototype Prime: https://www.prototypeprime.com/
TechConnectHub: https://techconnecthub.com/


Riding with Ease

May 2018 — There is no question that ride sharing has made it easier for people to travel from place to place on an international scale. Even in Miami, where there is a strong car-ownership culture, people have been cutting back on driving and turning to ride sharing to get around town.

The most obvious reason for this trend is that ride sharing apps are so easy to use. The user-friendly interface lets you order a ride, contact your driver and even see what type of car you’ll be riding in before it arrives. There’s also the comfort of knowing how much your ride will cost before you get in the car, and digital receipts are much easier to keep track of than paper receipts. On the whole, ride sharing makes traveling easy and stress free, especially when you’re not the one stuck behind the wheel during a rush-hour traffic jam.


Today Uber, the world’s biggest ride-sharing company, has 100,000 partners throughout the state of Florida. We asked Kasra Moshkani, general manager of the Southeast U.S. region, how Uber is working with the Miami business community to make the ride-sharing experience unique.

One answer to that is the partnerships we’ve formed over the last few years, including our relationships with the Miami Heat, the Miami Marlins, the Adrienne Arsht Center and Ultra Music Festival,” Moshkani said. “These organizations, sports franchises, venues and events in our community are such an integral part of what it means to live in Miami, and we want to be a part of that experience.”

Partnerships are not the only way Uber stays connected. For the second year in a row, Uber is teaming up with Ironhack, a coding and design bootcamp located in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, to award scholarships to Uber driver-partners and riders. In 2018, $200,000 in scholarships will be given out to promote professional development in the area of coding and design.

To learn more about Uber’s positive effects on Miami and the benefits that ride sharing is providing to the city’s transportation sector, pre-order your copy of Invest: Miami 2018 today!

For more information about Uber, visit www.uber.com.

Innovative Infrastructure



April 2018 — The Miami metro area is booming. As of 2016, the city was ranked the 8th largest for population and the 6th largest for employment growth among big U.S. cities. People are flocking to Miami to take advantage of everything it has to offer: warm weather, rich culture and unique business opportunities. It truly is one of a kind.

However, with an increasing population comes increasing challenges. With limited space to expand, the city continues to look for innovative ways to update its infrastructure in order to accommodate the growing number of residents and employees. Companies are experimenting with new technologies in order to improve safety and efficiency in the most cost-effective way.

Invest: Miami spoke with a number of leaders in the city’s infrastructure industry to gain insight into how Miami plans to successfully increase its capacity limit in the most economical, sustainable and feasible manner. Here’s what they said:

Humberto Alonso, Senior Regional Business Development Director, Atkins North America

“One of the challenges in South Florida is that solutions for transportation that work elsewhere involve building more miles of road or widening streets. We’re past that point here, particularly in Miami-Dade County. There’s no more room to build, so we need to look for other solutions. Technology will be a part of it, but there has to be an infrastructure investment as well. People have to change the way they think about going from one place to another.”

Eric Silagy, President & CEO, Florida Power and Light Company

“In Miami-Dade in particular, it’s critical that we continue to support growth in the region in a comprehensive and forward-thinking manner. The construction boom in Miami over the last few years has been enormous, but it can be challenging from an infrastructure perspective. A lot of planning needs to be done in advance to be able to meet the needs of the new developments. We’ve made great strides in working with regional stakeholders to understand what is coming and the timeframe for these investments so that we can properly plan and execute projects on our end to be ready to support these developments. It’s important to work together to provide opportunities for continued growth while minimizing the impact to those who already live and work in the area. And of course, we must continue to improve and enhance our storm preparation and response planning so that we are able to get the lights back on as quickly as possible after a major storm — particularly in an economic hub like Miami.”

Melsie Ordonez, Director of Operations & Senior Mechanical Engineer, Ross & Baruzzini

“The great thing about working with Miami International Airport is that they are at the forefront of innovation and offer opportunities to explore outside the box. One of the nuances in that environment is the need to tie into the existing infrastructure. We’re doing a small renovation in Concourse G, which is one of the original concourses. There are systems there that need to keep running to keep planes moving even while they are being worked on and added to. Tech is moving fast, and we need to marry the old and the new.”

Eddy Smith, Senior Vice President of Client Services, SCS Engineers

“We use some different approaches that might be more economical. Instead of putting two feet of soil on top of contamination, we’re challenging the old standards and saying, ‘Why can’t we use less than two feet and put in a synthetic barrier?’ We’ve gotten traction and save our clients a whole lot of money by doing that.”

To find out more about our interviewees above, visit their websites at:

Atkins North America: http://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-gb/north-america
Florida Power and Light Company: https://www.fpl.com
Ross & Baruzzini: http://www.rossbar.com
SCS Engineers: http://www.scsengineers.com