Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?
Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:
“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”
So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.
For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.
Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown.
In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.
The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.
Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:
- San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
- Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
- Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct
While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.
Subscribe via Email
Find us on Facebook
- Marta Viciedo on Making Miami’s Mean Streets Safer
- Rudy on Imagining Townhouses in Little Havana
- Mr. E. on Lackluster Mayoral Candidates Promise More of the Same on Transportation
- hello miami on How Miami Greets Its Visitors (and Locals)
- Mike Moskos on How Miami Greets Its Visitors (and Locals)
- Ken Arguelles on Miami Bungalow Love
CategoriesAccident Architecture bicycles bike lanes Bike Miami Days biking Biscayne Boulevard Brickell bus Climate Change Coconut Grove complete streets Downtown Miami FDOT High Speed Rail Metrorail Miami Miami-Dade County Miami-Dade Transit Miami 21 Miami Beach Museum Park News Parking Parks Pedestrian Pedestrians Pic o' the Day Planning Real Estate Development Rickenbacker Causeway Sprawl Streetcar Traffic Transit Transitography Transit Oriented Development Transportation Tri-Rail Uncategorized Urban Design Urban Development Boundary Urban Growth Urban Planning Walkability
- Car Commuting Rates Decline in 99% of America's Large Metros December 4, 2013A new report by U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group gives further credence to, and provides a more complete picture of, America's driving decline.
- New Study Challenges 2 Degree Climate Change Cap December 4, 2013New studies published this week challenge the 2 degree Celsius global warming threshold and call for an early warning system to monitor climate shifts.
- The Sneaky Ways Cities Alter Our Behavior December 4, 2013If you think your city is doing all it can to make its public spaces pleasant for all residents, think again. From “pig’s ears” to the "Camden Bench", Frank Swain explores the "secret tricks" cities use to make spaces uncomfortable and unattractive.
- Late-Night Subway Service is New Weapon in Fight to Attract Young Talent December 4, 2013A pilot project to extend the operating hours of Boston's subway system until 3 a.m. on weekends is being celebrated by riders, businesses leaders and public officials as a crucial element in maintaining a vibrant and attractive city.
- The Startup City You Probably Haven't Heard About December 4, 2013There are some cities that give you everything you need and others that make you work for it. This article profiles efforts to build a startup community in Tallahassee through the eyes of the city's growing network of entrepreneurs.
- 13 Ways to Kill Your Community December 4, 2013Scott Doyon reviews the book "13 Ways to Kill Your Community", by Alberta Legislative Assembly member Doug Griffiths and journalist Kelly Clemmer. In it, the authors reveal some of the "curiously recurring behaviors" that harm cities of all sizes.
- Bus-Bike Partnership Helps Austin Move Beyond Cars December 4, 2013Leave it up to Austin to show Texas how to reduce its auto-oriented infrastructure. A project to replace on-street parking and traffic lanes with dedicated bus and bike lanes is the result of a partnership between bike and transit planners.
- Blumenauer to Propose Deficit Commission's Gas Tax Increase December 4, 2013If it was good enough for Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Republican and Democrat authors of President Obama's deficit commission bearing their names, the phased, 15-cent fuel tax increase should be adopted, says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).
- Ranking Architects' Favorite Architects December 4, 2013BD is out with its annual list of the architecture firms most admired by their colleagues. A number of large commercial practices joined avant-garde firms in the top 10.
- Engineer is Focus of Metro-North Derailment Investigation December 4, 2013With the train's black box showing that the speeding commuter train entered a 30 M.P.H curve at 82 M.P.H, causing the derailment, attention has turned toward the engineer. CNN reports that the engineer admits to "nodding off" before the crash.
- Car Commuting Rates Decline in 99% of America's Large Metros December 4, 2013