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
- Mike Moskos on Event: Donald Shoup-The Godfather of Eliminating Required Parking
- Matthew Toro on ‘Mixed’ Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Adam Old on ‘Mixed’ Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Mike arias on County Announces New Vision for Pedestrians and Cyclists: Vision Zero 305
- Matthew Toro on Commercial Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- ivo on County Announces New Vision for Pedestrians and Cyclists: Vision Zero 305
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
- Seattle Adopts New Bicycle Master Plan April 18, 2014Resolution 31515, which officially approved the Bicycle Master Plan, is called a “transformational new way of thinking about bicycle projects within Seattle.” Time, and funding, will tell if the plan lives up to its promise.
- Freeway Cap, Penn’s Landing Waterfront Details Emerging in Philadelphia April 18, 2014Project planners estimate that a $200 million investment in an 11-acre cap park over I-95 that will reconnect the city with the Delaware River could return $1 billion in private investment.
- Coal Power Plants Dealt Blow by Appeals Court Ruling April 18, 2014The nation's first standards requiring power plants to reduce hazardous emissions, including the neurotoxin mercury, a coal-burning by-product, was upheld by a federal appeals court in a major win for public health, the EPA, and President Obama.
- Is it a Suburban Exodus Yet? April 18, 2014A new report finds that suburban areas are losing residents to urban areas like New York City and Washington D.C., even well past the point when people would have traditionally made the choice to return to the suburbs.
- Friday Funny: Goats Love a High Rise April 18, 2014Part funny, part amusing, and part just plain cool, goat towers are vertical structures with winding ramps that goats love to climb. They are also are “an idea whose time has come” according to a recent article in Modern Farmer.
- 10 Common Characteristics of Successful Markets April 18, 2014Markets are important commercial and cultural spaces throughout South America, in small villages and big cities. The market landscape in South America is diverse, but thriving markets share a number of common characteristics across the continent.
- Urban Planning for Public Health in California’s San Joaquin Valley April 17, 2014The American Lung Association is making an “urban planning push” in three San Joaquin Valley counties, according to a recent article in Associations Now. The idea behind the efforts to reduce public health risks: promote walkable communities.
- Rent Unaffordable in 90 U.S. Cities April 17, 2014Several recent reports lend credence to the “rent is too damn high” narrative. But exorbitant rents aren’t just a story in New York City or San Francisco—median rent is higher than 30 percent of median income in 90 cities in the United States.
- Arguing for City-Focused Sustainable Development Goals April 17, 2014Richard Florida joins the chorus calling for the United Nations to make “cities the centerpiece of its forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals.”
- The Rising Costs of Water Quality April 17, 2014The pressures on water supply are growing at the same time that water quality is becoming more expensive and more difficult to maintain. A recent article examines the challenges in the farm state of Nebraska.
- Seattle Adopts New Bicycle Master Plan April 18, 2014