MIAMI — A fast-tracked streetcar project has left Miami Beach in a tough negotiating position as it prepares to spend a year hashing out an estimated $244 million contract to build a rail system that would ultimately connect across Biscayne Bay to light rail on the mainland, The Miami Herald reports.

Earlier this year, the city’s elected officials urged administrators to pursue an unprecedented bidding process that could result in a more expensive project because they decided not to have bidders compete on price.

In July, the commission chose a team based solely on its train technology. Next, having reached a preliminary agreement about the scope of the talks, the City Commission in December will decide whether to open negotiations expected to take a year with Greater Miami Tramlink Partners. The consortium of companies, led by Alstom, sparked the current push for rail in South Beach when it submitted an unsolicited proposal last year. For the full story, click here.