Currently viewing the category: "FDOT"

Dear Transit Miami  -

I was scratching around some MIC and Miami Central Station documents and came upon a curious piece of information: FDOT is negotiating with MDX to assume the governance of Miami Central Station. I find it curious that MDX, a road-building entity, would be charged with governing Miami Central Station - shouldn’t those responsibilities fall to Miami-Dade Transit or, given the regional implications, to SFRTA? I can see MDX running the Car Rental Center, after all  it’s sole purpose is to feed tourists onto MDX’s adjacent highways, the 112 and 836 - undermining the metrorail link to the airport and any longer-term plans for a direct rapid transit link to Miami Beach, but Central Station? Give me a break!

What’s most curious about the arrangement between FDOT and MDX is the transfer of a an 8 acre property east of Central Station for “Joint Development.” I didn’t realize MDX was now looking to jump into Miami’s crowded development market. Doesn’t this parcel seem ripe for Transit-Oriented Development? Shouldn’t a Public Private Partnership be the first alternative? I think so. MDX will apparently develop the property to help “offset” the costs of operating Central Station (as if their toll revenue couldn’t be spared in the first place) and will include a possible mix of Hotel, Conference Center, Office, Retail, oh - and parking, of course. 

Let’s not forget too that MDX had developed concepts for a future SR 836/ SR 112 connector and had floated the idea of a “Central Corridor” Highway that would be built above Tri-Rail.

Best,

Another Concerned Citizen against MDX’s Overreaches  

 

The City of Miami will be voting today on Resolution #13-00581.

This resolution would formalize the transfer of Brickell Avenue — arguably the most economically important thoroughfare in Miami — from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to the City of Miami, from the State to the City.

This resolution would also formalize the transfer of a handful of streets in the Historic Downtown District of Miami from the City of Miami to FDOT, from the City to the State.

Under whose jurisdiction do Miami’s downtown streets belong?

Your voice matters! Cast your vote!

 

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At last week’s 2013 Transportation Summit, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 6 Secretary, Mr. Gus Pego, was in attendance.

Gus PEGO

Gus Pego, FDOT Secretary, District #6.

This was my first encounter with Mr. Pego in person and, despite the criticism we tend to launch at his district, he seemed like a really nice guy.

He was extremely diplomatic during the Summit. He didn’t seem to get defensive when audience members highlighted the contradictory and misguided actions of his agency. Generally, it appeared as if he has developed rather thick skin to cope with the criticisms launched at his agency (many of which have admittedly come from TransitMiami).

Mr. Pego’s demeanor reminded me of a political figure: an approachable, laid-back kind of guy who would be entertaining to have a beer with, but probably not one with whom you’d want to get into anything even slightly resembling a discussion of philosophy.

Nonetheless, you have to give the man credit. His job cannot possibly be easy.

I was among the (surprisingly few) private citizens who questioned Mr. Pego on the role FDOT plays here in Miami.

I asked him specifically about the proposed swap between FDOT and the City of Miami for some downtown Miami streets.

FDOT_CoM_Transfer

The core of my question was simple: “Why does FDOT want our streets?”

His answer was deceptively reassuring to me; it went something along the lines of:

  • Typically when there’s a transfer of road jurisdiction, the municipality [in this case the City of Miami] will try to offset the costs of taking over control and maintenance.
  • To offset the costs of controlling and maintaining new streets, the municipality will typically forfeit control of other streets.
  • The municipality will typically request that FDOT assume responsibility of these other streets to avoid the extra financial burden.

All right . . .  so . . . the City can’t carry the supposedly heavy costs of running its own streets, so it goes to FDOT asking for help. FDOT generously helps them out by taking new streets off their hands. Hmm . . .

It seemed to make sense (for about 11 seconds). But something still didn’t sit right with me. FDOT seemed way too gung-ho about the whole thing.

The last part of Pego’s response was the real doozy:

  • If the City of Miami determines that they wish to keep jurisdiction of those streets [as opposed to exchanging them for jurisdiction over Brickell Avenue], then FDOT would be fine with that.

At that point, I thought to myself: Man, this guy’s not the transportation megalomaniac those weirdos over at TransitMiami often try to make him out to be. He’s just a good, straight-talking guy. That’s all. . . .

Ah, but then I found FDOT’s official position on the proposed swap. Then I realized that us summit attendees had been duped. Those words were spoken just to appease those in the crowd who applauded the question.

The truth of the matter is that FDOT does indeed want our streets.

Take, for example, this excerpt from the June 3, 2013 letter from FDOT’s Mr. Gus Pego to Mr. Johnny Martinez, City Manager for the City of Miami:

The [Florida Department of Transportation] has recently completed a countywide analysis of potential roadway transfers [...]. The proposed roadway transfers should prove to be beneficial for the City and the State. We look forward to working with the City of Miami in a mutually beneficial relationship to effect these transfers.

Or, here’s the formal City of Miami piece of legislation in the form of a resolution. It  also demonstrates how FDOT isn’t the selfless hero Mr. Pego wanted to portray it as:

Whereas, the [Florida Department of Transportation] has determined that it would be beneficial to the State of Florida to assume jurisdictional responsibility for [all the roads listed in the table below].

miami_to_fdot

So . . . FDOT is not, in fact, coming nobly to the City of Miami’s financial rescue as Mr. Pego would like to have us think. Quite the contrary, FDOT is in it for it’s own good, not the well-being of the community.

We can be sure that FDOT does indeed want our streets. The real question persists, though: Why?

They’ve studied our streets, and they’ve targeted the ones they want most. They have plans for them.

What those plans are, I do not know. Mr. Pego, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter . . .

 

This article was edited for content on 6/13/13 from it’s original format.

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Tomorrow, on Thursday, June 13, the City of Miami City Commission will consider Resolution #13-00581.

This resolution would formalize the transfer of virtually all of downtown Miami’s Brickell Avenue from the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to the jurisdiction of the City of Miami.

Think about that: Brickell Avenue. It’s the core of our financial business district and a burgeoning residential and commercial area.

One wonders why FDOT ever had control of one of our city’s most important thoroughfares in the first place.

fdot_to_miami

It’s great news. Our city’s streets belong in the hands of our own local municipalities. They don’t belong in the hands of techno-bureaucrats up in Tallahassee, nor in any other one of FDOT’s just-as-detached satellite offices.

While far from perfect, our local public officials and planners are more sensitive to the day-to-day realities on our streets; they are more aware of land-use dynamics and current and pending real estate developments; they are more conscious of existing long-range and master planning documents (including plans for special districts, public transit corridors, bicycles and greenways, waterfronts, ecologically-sensitive areas, etc.); they typically have deeper, more productive working relationships with other locally-based jurisdictions; they better understand the on-the-ground interplay of bicycle, pedestrian, and motor traffic; they are more sincerely invested in the well-being of the local community of which they themselves are a part; and, most importantly, our local planners and politicians are comparatively far more accessible and accountable to us, the people to whom the streets belong.

FDOT_CoM_Transfer

Note the streets highlighted in blue in the map inset; they run through the City of Miami’s Downtown Historic District, in southeastern Overtown. Those are the streets FDOT wants to take from the City of Miami. In return, the City of Miami would get the one in red, Brickell Drive. Map produced by FDOT.

So all is well in the Magic City, right? FDOT is beginning to realize that its role in 21st century Miami is growing smaller and smaller and we’re more than capable of running our own streets.

The state transportation juggernaut is starting to return our city streets to the local government authorities because it’s reached the undeniable conclusion that local municipalities and counties can run their own streets better than some gigantic, geographically-disconnected government bureaucracy . . . right?

Wrong.

In exchange for relinquishing Brickell Avenue to the City (where it belongs), FDOT wants something — quite a lot, actually — in return. Specifically, FDOT wants several streets running through the Downtown Miami Historic District (see the table below).

miami_to_fdot

In total, FDOT is trying to take 2.4 center lane miles from the City of Miami in exchange for about 1.9 center lane miles.

(A “center lane mile” is the length of the actual road, from point A to point B. A standard “lane mile” takes into account the number of lanes on that same stretch from point A to point B.)

CityOfMiami_HistoricDowntownDistrict
FDOT wants to take = 2.40 miles

FDOT wants to give = 1.92 miles

Thus, not only is FDOT pursuing streets it really has no right to and should have no interest in to begin with, but it’s actually trying to take more street length from the City than it is offering!

The City Commission will be voting on this around 2:00pm on Thursday, June 13.

Mr. Mayor and City Commissioners: Take what belongs to the people of the City of Miami. Bring Brickell Avenue under our local jurisdiction.

But do not, under any circumstances, forfeit those streets in the Historic Downtown District to the State.

FDOT should give = 1.92 miles

City of Miami should give = 0.00 miles

The real question is: Why does FDOT want control of our local streets to begin with?

 

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6th crash in three years at the same exact location. Brickell Avenue and 15th Road

6th crash in three years at the same exact location. Brickell Avenue and 15th Road

Here we go again… A few weeks ago there was another crash on Brickell Avenue and SW 15th Road.  This is the sixth incident in about 3 years that I have seen debris from crashes at the exact same location.  I’m not sure what FDOT and the city of Miami are waiting for, but apparently nothing will be done here until someone is killed. Sadly this will likely happen within the next three years.

Looks like the bench was launched about 50 feet.

Looks like the bench was launched about 50 feet.

The Echo Brickell project has just been announced and construction will begin soon at the very exact location where all these crashes have occurred.  This project will have 175 units with retail on the ground floor.  If the design of the road remains the same, we should expect a nasty accident with a lot of injuries once the project is completed. FDOT and the city of Miami have been put on notice. If nothing is done immediately both will have blood on their hands.

You can also send an email to FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to see if they plan to do anything to address the design speed on Brickell Avenue.  I think it is evident that we have a problem here.

 

The FDOT Alton Road project has officially begun. While the impact is still rather manageable as only the North part of Alton Rd is  undergoing construction, this massive project is soon to take on more importance as South Beach’s major and one and only North-South highway will be shut down in parts. The complete construction  schedule for April 8 - 25 can be found here.

While resident groups such as the Flamingo Park Neighbourhood Association and the West Avenue Neighbourhood Association have raised major concerns of the project and expressed them to the City of Miami Beach, there has been no response from City Hall. I recently emailed Mayor Matti Bower and all commissioners asking for their stance on this project and expressing my concern of the impact to those who walk or bike along West Ave:

I am extremely concerned about the FDOT construction plans for the Alton Road project [...] I am afraid that it will no longer be possible to safely take my daughter for a walk or to school. I am worried about noise, pollution, congestion [...]. Furthermore, we are shocked that Alton Road is going to offer “sharrows” for bicycles. Sharrows are not a safe option on Alton Road. We also understand that no bike lanes are planned for West Ave either and feel very disheartened that a city that aims to provide bike alternatives to residents simply ignores this alternate mode of transportation for such a long foreseeable future.
Please provide me with your thoughts on how the City plans to ensure that West Ave will still be a livable place for the next 2.5 years.

The only answer I received was from Gabrielle Redfern, a former Transit Miami writer and current Chief of Staff to Mayor Bower: “The mayor is also concerned about how this construction will effect traffic.  The City has done its best to work with FDOT to make the project as painless to the residents as possible.  However, a complete road reconstruction, with the addition of much needed drainage, will not be without some inconvenience to us all.

Mayor Bower sent her own answer in her e-mail newsletter today, providing a beautiful example of the true art of double-think so masterfully employed by politicians. Double-think, is, of course “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… “. Here goes her version:


“This week I traveled to Tallahassee to participate in Dade Days.  This organized lobbying trip is undertaken to ensure that your feelings are made clear to our legislators in our State Capitol.  I focused my meetings on economic development, sand replacement and making our streets safer for our children as well as protecting our ability to establish living wage ordinances and offer domestic partnership benefits in our community.”

 

And then, further down in the newsletter:

“DEATH, TAXES,…AND ROAD CONSTRUCTION. Faced with the trials and tribulations of our Alton Road, no doubt Benjamin Franklin would have added “road construction” to his list of life’s unhappy certainties. While we can all look ahead to the benefits of the current FDOT Alton Road project, putting to work thirty-two million in gasoline tax dollars: a safer Alton Road with better drainage, upgraded water delivery service, and pedestrian lighting along with new landscaping, I’m pretty sure no one is looking forward to the two and a half years it will take to complete the work.

Next week, work will be concentrated from Dade Boulevard to Michigan Avenue, with construction crews working between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays. During this period, one south-bound lane will be closed, and there will be no left hand turns southbound onto Dade Boulevard. Intermittent lane closures will also occur from 10th Street to Bay Road.

Additionally, one eastbound land of the MacArthur Causeway will be closed as part of the ongoing Port of Miami Tunnel project, at the same time that Alton Road below 5th Street, from South Pointe Drive to Commerce Street remains closed to allow for installation of a new larger sewer pipe.

Dade Boulevard eastbound, from Alton Road to Convention Center Drive, may be closed at times for continuing work on a new seawall and multi-use pathway; and lastly, Collins Avenue, north of Lincoln Road as far as 26th Street will also experience some intermittent lane closures.”

What gives, Mayor Bower? If it is the children you are concerned about - shouldn’t the Alton Road project features wider sidewalks to make walking there safer? Are sharrows on Alton Road really safe options - for kids or adults? And lastly - all this construction - and what do we get out of it? MORE ROADS. MORE CARS. MORE TRAFFIC. MORE CONGESTION. Not exactly what I think of when I envision “making our streets safer” for kids!

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FDOT paints a new green bike lane leading onto I195 heading west.

FDOT paints a new green bike lane leading onto 195 heading west.

If this is the FDOT’s idea of safety, looks like all cyclists are pretty much screwed in Miami. FDOT is now encouraging cyclists to ride a bicycle on 195. The design speed of 195 probably exceeds 65mph and this so called “unprotected bike lane” is also a shoulder. Seriously? FDOT will have blood on their hands soon enough. If a cyclist is struck on this highway, it is very unlikely he or she will survive.

impact-of-speed2

 

FDOT held public information meetings last week to present their Alton Road reconstruction project. The project is scheduled to kick off just 1 week, April 1st 2013, and lasts until “summer 2015″ and costs an estimated $32 Million. The presentation by FDOT touched on the main work items, in particular the 3 pump stations and drainage system that will be installed, as well as the reconstruction (repavement) of Alton Road. The project Fact Sheet gives an overview of the project.

Residents and business owners listened attentively as FDOT presented the project. Almost everyone agrees that the project is necessary as flooding has been a huge issue in this area of Miami Beach. However, the project includes re-routing Alton Road traffic onto West Avenue for the majority of it’s duration. For this purpose, West Ave is reconfigured into a 3-lane road (currently 2 lanes with a turning lane). For a period of at least 6 months, all Alton Road traffic will be North-bound-only, and all South-bound traffic will be re-routed to West Ave.

As a resident of West Ave, this certainly caught my attention. West Ave is a rather residential street that is home to large condominiums such as the Mirador, the Waverly, the Floridian and many smaller buildings.  According to the 2010 Census, over 30,000 people live within 10 blocks of this 15 block section of Alton Road. As opposed to busy Ocean Drive or Washington Ave, West Ave does not host many tourist-geared businesses, and the few restaurants and shops are mostly frequented by locals. People enjoy walking their dogs and strollers on West Ave, stopping by Whole Foods or Epicure for some groceries, or linger over a coffee on Starbuck’s patio. There is a lot of Decobike usage on West Ave. So when the FDOT representative announced without a blink of his eye that this same West Ave would be “reconfigured to allow for alternate traffic flow” - my heart skipped a beat.

Alton Road FDOT

 

I began wondering what it will be like to have the street I live (and bike, and walk, and run, and take my daughter for walks) on turned into a one-way 3-lane highway from one day to another. As it is, cars are rather disrespectful on West Ave and, despite beautiful little reminders posted in the intersections that it’s the LAW to YIELD to pedestrians, I am usually forced to speed-walk across West Ave when there is a short pause in traffic. How will this be when delivery trucks, county buses, tourists, taxis, and simply everyone else that needs to get on or off the beach will be driving past my front yard? Examples of other one-way 3-lane highways such as “Calle Ocho” in Miami prove this setup is deathly to the neighbourhood (when is the last time YOU decided to stroll on Calle Ocho for fun?). Let alone the pollution and noise caused by such a major highway - now I am worried that I won’t even be able to exit my condo without actually risking my life. As one speaker at the public forum begged FDOT to understand - “we live here. And  - we paid a lot of money for it…”.

But wait, there is more! If at least this massive project provided some safer options for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate Alton Road in the end, it might all be worth it, right? After all, as was previously pointed out by Transit Miami, “Miami Beach bikes and walks to work“, and Miami Beach claims that “the City and residents of Miami Beach have identified bicycle improvements and programs as part of their strategic plan and as a priority goal“. So surely, some improvements must be planned for Alton Road to meet this “priority goal”! Perhaps Alton Road will boast broad tree-covered sidewalks, with a bike lane, and patios for restaurants? This would give us something to look forward to at the end of all the years of noise, traffic, congestion, and pollution…perhaps Alton Road will look something like this, as envisioned by the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association?

Alton Road Vision

One can always dream…well, in short: this is not what Alton Road is going to look like. Alas, there is no grand plan by FDOT (suprise!) and there will be no bike lanes on Alton Road. However, FDOT is kind enough to include sharrows on Alton Road. Yes, you read that right. According to Daniel Iglesias, the engineer in charge, given studies and research from their side, sharrows are “the safest option“. Let that sink in for a moment. Now - there may be some lunatics crazy enough to bike just about anywhere - on mountain tops and in river beds - but I challenge anyone to actually bike on an inner-city highway heavily frequented by buses, trucks, and careless Miami drivers - on a sharrow. This thought would be funny - if it weren’t so terribly sad.

The Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association has expressed significant opposition to the FDOT plan for the reconstruction of Alton Road. In their view, “Alton Road reconstruction is a once in 50 year event to properly address the multiple needs of all user groups – multi-modal mobility options for pedestrians, bikers, autos, and transit users, contribute to a functional environment for business and with trees, landscaping and street furniture foster an attractive and safe neighborhood for our residents and visitors [...]. This ill-formed Alton Road project is going to create safety issues for all types of transportation (pedestrian, motorized and non-motorized vehicles) and create a detrimental impact on the businesses and property owners along this essential commercial corridor. [...] Join us in our outrage over a plan that emphasizes speed at the expense of safety, economic vitality, and quality of life.”.

The West Avenue Neighbourhood Association has also expressed concerns with the project, stating that “FDOT is placing an undue burden on a highly residential neighborhood“.

We will keep monitoring this project closely and provide status updates.

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Ladies and Gentlemen- Let’s get Ready to Rumble!

It’s the fight of the century. David vs. Goliath

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 7.42.02 PM

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 7.30.49 PM

Legion Park

6447 NE 7th Ave
Miami, FL 33138

I have a feeling we may see a couple of Superfly Snukas from Upper EastSide residents and businesses at this event. FDOT better come prepared.

 
NE 79th Street.  Miami's worst urban street has a design speed of 40+mph. 3 lanes going west to east and 1 lane going east to west.

NE 79th Street. Miami’s worst urban street has a design speed of 40+mph. 3 lanes going west to east and 1 lane going east to west.

NE 79th is unequivocally Miami’s worst urban street. The street is awkwardly configured with 3 lanes going west to east and 1 lane going east to west. Sometime in 2013 FDOT will begin a resurfacing project from I95 to the Biscayne Bay.

NE 79th Street project will be resurfaced from I95 to Biscayne Bay.

NE 79th Street will be resurfaced from I95 to Biscayne Bay.

I’m plugged-in with what’s happening in my neighborhood and I happen to live 4 blocks away from 79th Street.  About two months ago I found out that FDOT would be resurfacing NE 79th Street and apparently the FDOT has been conducting a series of meetings with “neighborhood stakeholders” in the last year. I am on the board of the MiMo Biscayne Association.  Over the past two years we have met with FDOT officials on several occasions to discuss making safety improvements along Biscayne Boulevard. Not once during any of our meetings did FDOT mention that NE79th Street was due to be resurfaced. Where’s the community outreach? Why didn’t FDOT reach out to the MiMo Biscayne Association or Transit Miami?

With respect to Biscayne Boulevard, the MiMo Biscayne Association has been rebuffed by FDOT and they make every excuse not to make any safety improvement although I have documented over 15 crashes in less than a three-year period in which cars usually end up on the sidewalk.  Basically, FDOT officials have said to us is “ Biscayne Boulevard was just recently resurfaced, so speak with us again in 20 years when we resurface again”. FDOT officials have also said “ safety is matter of perception”.

So let’s put outside FDOT’s lack of community outreach for now. I’ve heard that the current resurfacing project is only a “temporary solution”.  WTF does “temporary solution” mean? Sounds exactly like the I395 “Bait and Switch” which FDOT just pulled with the “signature bridge” construction project. I’m very happy to see that Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff have filed a lawsuit again FDOT.

My fear is that FDOT will pull the same “Bait and Switch”. They’ll do this resurfacing project with a promise to come back soon and we won’t hear from them again for another 20 years.  Meanwhile, 79th Street will likely see a new train station along the FEC corridor in the next 7 years.  There is a lot of new development happening in this area and pedestrian activity is increasing everyday, yet FDOT continues to design their roads as if it were 1960. They are clearly not planning for the future

My sources from within the city have informed me that FDOT has not conducted a traffic study or traffic count for 79th Street in 10 years. So I’m going assume that they haven’t conducted any pedestrians on cyclists counts either.  Not that it matters since FDOT plays by their own set of rules and standards; they have little regard for anyone not in a vehicle.

FDOT’s current proposal is the equivalent of putting “lipstick on a pig”.  Thanks to pressure from the North Palm Grove and Shorecrest neighborhood associations FDOT has agreed to add some lighting and 5 additional crosswalks in the scope of this project.  But this is not good enough. FDOT can and should do a lot more.

The MiMo Biscayne Association’s has adopted a resolution regarding NE 79th Street. Transit Miami fully supports this resolution:

 79th Street: Miami’s Worst Urban Street:

WHEREAS, the Florida Department of Transportation will begin
resurfacing 79TH Street beginning in August, 2014, and
 
WHEREAS, the FDOT Plan will do very little to improve safety for
pedestrians along this poorly design street, and
 
WHEREAS, 79TH Street from Biscayne Bay to I-95 has 3 lanes going west
to east and 1 lane going east to west, and
 
WHEREAS, little parking is available for the 79th Street small shop
owners aside from on-street spaces, and
 
WHEREAS, the eastbound lanes have a design speed of 45 MPH through
the heart of the city, and
 
WHEREAS, 79TH street is the focal point of the Upper Eastside
community, and
 
WHEREAS, the 79th Street merchants have joined with MiMo Boulevard
Association for support of their Urban Streets, and
 
WHEREAS, Both 79th Street and MiMo Boulevard merchants are
promoting the revitalization efforts taking place on those streets, and
 
WHEREAS, 79th Street and MiMo Boulevard are the two vital
commercial roadways that affect the economic redevelopment of the
Upper East Side, 
 
THEREFORE, THE MIMO BISCAYNE ASSOCIATION AND THE 79TH STREET
BUSINESS ASSOCIATION CALL FOR THE FOLLOWING CHANGES AND
ADDITIONS TO THE PROPOSED FDOT ROADWAY PLAN:
 
1. CHANGE THE 3/1 EAST/WEST LANES ON 79TH TO 2/2 LANES
GOING EAST AND WEST.
2. CREATE AN 8’ PARKING LANES ON BOTH SIDEs OF 79TH STREET (Off-SET PARKING)
3. PROVIDE MINIMUM SAFETY STANDARDS BY PLACING
CROSSWALKS AT EACH INTERSECTIONS OF 79TH STREET AS WELL
AS MID-WAY BETWEEN THE INTERSECTIONS AT 7TH AND 10TH
AVENUES
4. REDUCE THE DESIGN SPEED OF 79TH Street to 30 mph.

 

The FDOT will be presenting their plans to North Palm Grove Neighborhood Association on Wednesday March 27 at 7:00 PM at Legion Park.  This meeting is open to the public.  Whether you live in the area or not, please consider attending this meeting.  It’s important that Miamians take a stand against FDOT.  Miami’s worst street can very easily become one of Miami’s best signature streets.  FDOT will make every excuse in the book why they cannot make the improvements that are being recommended.  It all boils down to BS excuses.  If we can put a man on the moon, we can figure out a way to make our streets business and pedestrian friendly. Lack of will and vision from FDOT prevents any of this from happening.

Feel free to send an email to District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and let him know that FDOT’s current plan for 79th Street is not acceptable to anyone but FDOT.

 

FDOT Alton Road ProjectFDOT is planning a two-year Alton Road construction project. Alton Road will be closed at several intersections and all traffic re-routed to a parallel street (West Ave). The project is scheduled to start this April. The project includes plans for reconstructing the road, installing new drainage, installing new lighting, signs, and pavement markings, and constructing concrete islands.

Given the duration and scale of the project, and the inevitable impact on the surrounding residential neighborhoods, residents have been asking FDOT for details on the implementation. As a result, FDOT has scheduled two public information meetings to provide the public with more information.

To me, there are many questions that still need answers. Will there be a bike lane on Alton Road? Will there be larger sidewalks and shade trees planted? Will it be easier and safer to cross Alton Road? When I attempt to cross Alton Road on 13th Street, the “count-down” next to my walking sign is on as soon as I step on the crosswalk. I have exactly 26 seconds to shuffle across - good thing I’m not an old lady with a cane. Cars, on the other hand, get 3 full minutes before the stop light turns green for pedestrians. Just another instance of how pedestrians in Miami are made to feel like second class citizens.

The project has a lot of potential to make Alton Road safer and a more desirable place for pedestrians and bikers. In its current state, I stay away from Alton Road as much as possible as it is nothing but a highway in the middle of the city, noisy, stinky, trafficky, and dangerous. Let’s see what FDOT has in store for us.

Middle Beach Meeting
6pm Tuesday March 19th
Miami Beach Golf Club
2301 Alton Road
Miami Beach FL 33140

South Beach Meeting
6pm Thursday March 21st
Police Athletic LEague
999 11th Street
Miami Beach FL 33139

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We received this  letter last week which was addressed to City Commissioner Sarnoff, County Commissioner Barreiro and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego. You can also send an email to them by clicking here.

Dear Commissioners Sarnoff and Barreiro and Mr. Pego,

I am writing to you this morning regarding a matter that is very troubling to me and one that I hope you will consider as part of your agenda: PEDESTRIANS IN THE URBAN CORE. As you are well aware, Miami is trying to become an urban city where people live, work and play- like Chicago or New York. In so doing, it needs to be an urban center that is thoughtfully planned so people can walk safely any time of the day or night. We should be able to walk our dogs, go to the market, or take a stroll to dinner. When you live in an urban core, like Brickell, where my family lives, you cannot be expected to take your car out for every little errand or just to go a few blocks. However, being that walking in the Brickell area is so difficult and dangerous to navigate, I feel like I must do so-compounding the traffic problem and the pedestrian problem. I am sure you agree that we need to make our urban center a place where all can feel safe to walk the streets. However, this is not the case at this point in time. Since I moved to Brickell I have been dismayed at the lack of attention and care given to pedestrians by drivers, construction workers, and city planners. 

Walking from Brickell to Downtown. The other day I was walking to downtown from Brickell where we live. A group of us crossed the bridge, then were challenged to cross the street using two cross walks where cars dart at you around the curve where Brickell becomes Biscayne. We need better signals for pedestrians there. A cross walk is not enough; we need bright lights that signal when a pedestrian needs to cross (like is found in front of the FRESH MARKET in Coconut Grove on S Bayshore Drive). Even though we have the walk signal, cars still feel they can turn right on red without stopping. I have observed people run across that cross walk because cars were coming at them so quickly. Then as you continue to walk on 2nd ave and (a) there is no side walk because of construction of the Whole Foods-we actually had to walk on the street between downtown distributor and SE 2nd Street, and (b) there is no cross walk at the intersection of 2nd ave and SE 2nd Street!!! You literally run for it so you don’t get hit by a car. Enough is enough! This is one example of many. I invite you to walk along Brickell Ave and see how challenging it is to walk in a straight line (like you do in NY or Chicago) and feel safe, without having to navigate barricades and other obstacles in what is really an obstacle course.Transitmiami.com has done a wonderful job of highlighting what they called the Brickell “deathwalk” : http://www.transitmiami.com/category/places/miami/brickel    

With the taxes we pay to live in the Brickell area, we must have the pedestrian walkways we deserve and have paid for-ones that you would want your grandmother or children to walk down. We need representatives like you to stand up for us and think creatively about ways we can emulate cities like Chicago, where I previously lived and always felt safe as a pedestrian. As the Brickell area becomes more populated with CitiCenter and other developments, this will become more and more of a   moral imperative.  People are getting hurt and people’s lives are at stake here. As citizens and taxpayers, we should be able to walk the streets-elderly, children, groups, etc- without fear of tripping on obstacles or being hit by a car. This is a very serious matter or moral proportions that deserves your immediate attention.I will be forwarding this email to Felipe Azenha of Transit Miami.com and will also bring up the issue at the board meeting of Icon Brickell.I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing about the ways you can alleviate this dangerous problem.

Sincerely,

Carlos Abril

 

 

79th Street is Miami's worst urban street. There is nothing business or pedestrian friendly about this street. It should be converted to 2 lanes in each direction. The current 3/1 configuration is not good for pedestrians or businesses.

79th Street is Miami’s worst urban street. There is nothing business or pedestrian friendly about this street. It should be converted to 2 lanes in each direction. The current 3/1 configuration is not good for pedestrians or businesses.

The FDOT has plans to resurface 79th Street in 2014, yet it looks like very little will be done to improve safety for pedestrians along this poorly designed street.  79th Street from Biscayne Bay to I95 has 3 lanes going west to east and 1 lane going east to west. The eastbound lanes have a design speed of 45mph+ through the heart of the city. This is unconscionable and downright irresponsible of the FDOT.

The FDOT is touting that they will “Install five new mid-block pedestrian crossings at various locations, including near the Little River Branch Library”.  Really?  This is the best they can do?  How about crosswalks at every intersection?  Crosswalks at every intersection should be the FDOT’s minimum safety standard. More importantly, this road needs to be converted back into two lanes in each direction with one street parking; 82nd Street should also be converted back into a two-way.  Additionally, either bike lanes or sharrows need to be added to the scope of this project.

82nd Street should be converted to 1 lane in each direction.

82nd Street should be converted to 1 lane in each direction.

Please attend this meeting on March 6th.  Unfortunately, I will not be unable to attend.  Transit Miami will be following this project very closely and making plenty of noise about it.

MEETINGNOTIFICATION_NE79StreettoNBayshoreDr_March6

 

 

15th crash in 30 months in the MiMo Historic District.  Biscayne and NE 75 St.

15th crash in 30 months in the MiMo Historic District. Biscayne and NE 75 St.

Ever since I moved to the Upper Eastside I have been documenting crashes along Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District.  Most of the crashes have resulted with vehicles being projected on to our sidewalks. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed along Biscayne Boulevard.

The MiMo Biscayne Association has meet with the FDOT on numerous occasions and has asked them to take the appropriate measure to reduce the design speed of the Biscayne Boulevard. There is no good reason why the FDOT should encourage drivers to move at speeds in excess of 45 mph, as this is what this road is currently designed to do. If the FDOT were truly concerned about safety, they would design a road that discourages speeding. Moving cars as quickly as possible is the FDOT’s mantra, not the safety of people.

How many more crashes and people need to be injured or must die before someone from government acts on behalf of their citizens? Since this is an FDOT road neither of our elected officials from the County or City have any power of jurisdiction over this road. This is just a total disgrace.  On what planet is a road like this good for pedestrians and businesses?

Disgusted?   Please send the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego, City Commissioner Mark Sarnoff and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson an email by clicking here.

Below are all of the crashes I have documented.

Feb 2011

Feb 2011

 

Feb 2011

Feb 2011

March 2011

March 2011

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

Aug 2011

Aug 2011

June 2012

June 2012

Aug 2012

Aug 2012

 

Aug 2012

Aug 2012

 

Aug 2010

Aug 2010

Aug 2012
Aug 2012

Aug 2012

Aug 2012

 

 

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.

I-395_Miami_Bridge4

I-395_Miami_Bridge3

I-395_Miami_Bridge2

I-395_Miami_Bridge

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.

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