Archive for the 'South Florida' Category

Tri-Rail Expansion Delayed, Again

Tri-Rail delays (yet again) the expansion of service from 40 to 50 trains on weekday schedules. This next delay will guarantee that the new schedule will not be fully operational for the Third Annual South Florida Commuter Challenge on May 17th, a great time to show potential new riders the full benefits of the new and revamped Tri-Rail system…

Rail Transit along the Beeline, Further Congestion on 595

While plans move forward to expand I-595 in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin County commissioners are working on a plan to bring east-west Tri-rail service along the beeline expressway. The commissioners hope to one day use the existing CSX rail tracks to link research and biomedical facilities in the works in both counties. Unlike their Broward counterparts, these commissioners see the financial advantage of not widening roads and instead using our money wisely:

“Koons estimated that widening the road to accommodate development could cost $1 billion…”

“Many of those developments are running into traffic concerns because parts of SR 710 are getting congested. Future development could be prohibited if the highway isn’t widened. Using commuter rail could reduce the need for widening, Koons said, and help solve affordable housing problems.

“You can afford more housing if you have to spend less on transit,” he said.”

Nice to know someone sees it…

Climate Change and South Florida

Photo Source: Miami Herald via Green Peace, AP File 2006

Our global warming crisis continues to become more foreboding. Today the Herald reported findings from a recent study that predicts serious local climate change in South Florida’s future. According to the study, which is one of the first to predict local climate change stemming from global warming, by 2100 South Florida will likely have a novel climate that is warmer, drier, and unlike any other on Earth. Among the findings:

  • Mean temperatures in South Florida could rise by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer/wet season (+ 3 ½ degrees in the winter/dry season)
  • High temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90’s can be expected during the summer/wet season
  • Much drier conditions: 3 ½ fewer inches of rainfall during the wet season (Note: Drier does not mean less humid)
  • Even if worldwide action reduces greenhouse gas emissions, 4-20 percent of the world’s land could experience novel climates
These findings have grave implications for South Florida. As I noted above, a “drier” climate does not mean a less humid climate. High temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s coupled with high humidity would make it feel like 110-120 degrees based on heat indexes. Also to consider, the 5-7 degree rise is in mean temperature, which is the average temperature over a 24-hour period. For the last 30 years, Miami’s mean temperature has averaged about 83 degrees during the peak of the summer/wet season. If the predictions are true, then our average daily temperatures could be as high as 90 degrees! Imagine stifling days with highs of 95 and lows of 85. Factor in humidity, and even our nights would feel as warm as 100 degrees!

All of this does not even consider the potentially catastrophic effects of rising sea levels, increased frequency of major hurricanes, drought, and the decimation of the Everglades. It is now critical that we begin making major changes in the way we live and the way our cities function. Given the implications of climate change in South Florida, you would think that our region would be on the leading edge of sustainable urban planning. Sadly, as we all know, this is not currently the case. Yes, Mayor Diaz should be complemented for his green building proposal, Miami 21, and the Miami Streetcar initiative, but this barely scratches the surface of sustainability. We need a progressive, regional effort to significantly reduce our dependence on the automobile, boost alternative transportation modes, and design sustainable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. We cannot wait any longer to act.

FEC, The Obvious Route

The Sun-Sentinel published a rather ho hum article today concerning the possible use of the FEC corridor for local commuter rail traffic. Basically restating everything we already knew about the study being conducted to alleviate traffic on I-95, local developers paving over our way of life, Henry Flagler and the oranges, blah, blah, blah, the whole nine yards… The article confirmed my recent estimates placing the start of construction on a best possible scenario at 2015 (oddly enough the same year Baylink will be reconsidered for funding by the MPO.) As usual, the comments on the Sun-Sentinel’s site proved to be an everlasting source of entertainment for me. Here is one of the more ridiculous replies which just about sums up why we need to focus on changing mentalities around here first…

Here are some of Bob from Boca’s deep and well thought out ideas:

Finally, my first reaction:

Yep, I wanna give up my Lexus to ride with the vermin of the world.

Let me take my lovely family and sit among people from nations where personal hygeine is a dark mystery associated with the like of the full moon and witch-craft. Oh sorry, did I say other nation? I meant Hialeah.

Let’s have a “chat” with the hip-hoppers who can’t say 3 words straight without an F-Bomb, or the others who can’t say 3 words in English.

Even better, I want to give up the luxury of personal transportation in order to roll in the filth left by the previous passengers. Gum stuck in chairs, overflowing toilets (if they even bothered to enter) and the associated residue of society all stuck to my seat, and now my pants all at one time.

Snob? Perhaps…Dude, I’ll simply say it’s not technology that kills public transporation. It’s the public.

American’s golden days passed when manners and social grace were put aside in favor of personal gratification and the current selfish, boorish behavior that seems to be a norm among so many.

So yeah, raise our taxes even higher and strangle our economy to death. Chase out and destroy the middle class and build the train. We’ll have extremely wealthy and those so poor they are tax exempt. At least the latter will have a train. All they need is a reason to use it. What are the chances that will be for work?

Davie Commons; We have Nothing in Common

Noting that the traditional enclosed shopping mall concept has dwindled within American Culture, we have seen the rapid rise of lifestyle centers modeled around the “Town Center” concept. Aside from various fake streetscapes and generally navigable streets within the complexes, these centers will continue to ravage the urban fabric of our cities in a fashion similar to that of the mall. The “Town Center” concept has taken off over the recent years and is designed with automotive access and developer’s pockets in mind. The recently approved Davie Commons retail and office center is no different. Sprawling out over 150 acres, this complex will certainly do little to centralize Davie and will only compound the traffic problems in the whole South Florida region. If fully approved by the city commission, this will signal a complete reversal of general urban planning principles, placing yet another massive development on the western fringes of the county’s sprawl, abutting the Everglades. Broward County traffic will be further disrupted by reverse commutes for people working in the 800,000+ square feet of office space or the Million+ square feet of retail.
Developers downplayed the potential traffic impact, claiming it would add fewer cars to local roads than a new housing subdivision.

The Davie city commission swallowed this load of crap, recently giving the project an initial first round approval, despite widespread opposition from the community. The complex will continue to exemplify the type of construction we need to stop in our region. Suburban office complexes and expansive shopping centers which are only accessible by vehicle in the western parts of the county equate to an ecological, immoral, and urban planning catastrophe for the whole region. The city commission is likely clouded by the massive tax benefit the city would reap:

In exchange for the town’s approval, developers will ask that the agricultural exemption on the 152-acre property be lifted beginning in 2008. The change would increase the taxable value of the land from less than $100,000 to about $20.1 million, creating a windfall for the town, Siegel said.

In addition, if the land-use change receives final town approval, developers have agreed to pay $3.5 million per year to guarantee that Davie receives the amount of revenue the project is estimated to generate.

Join the Opposition!

More Pictures:

Main Street! Main to what, the Everglades? (Wow, they got people to walk…)

The Bustling urban Town Fountain (Look at the water flow…)

Mosquito Park

LRT vs Streetcar

The streetcar articles have stirred up some great discussion in the comments section, both in favor of and against the proposed route. I would like to address one of the main reasons cited against the streetcar; the proposed and possibly upcoming LRT along the FEC corridor.

The LRT along the FEC corridor appears to be the favored alternative transportation choice of those in favor of and against the Miami streetcar. Although I believe that the FEC corridor would prove to be the most useful alternative due to its dedicated ROW through the largest municipalities, I don’t believe it should be the driving force behind the opposition to the streetcar. We shouldn’t discredit the current effort to provide reasonable alternative means of public transportation within the city limits; after all, this is all the city can do to improve its’ own infrastructure. This is a city of Miami infrastructure solution, funded by city dollars, so we can erase the notions of spending the money instead to run rail lines every which way out of the city. Likewise, the FEC corridor situation is basically out of the hands of city planners and is still currently little more than a pipe dream study, leaving at least several years before we can even begin to witness any sort of real planning or development occur. In the meantime, the streetcar would begin to alleviate the traffic problems the current and future development is going to create and would further bolster the reach of an FEC corridor LRT, eventually giving riders more destinations in easy reach of efficient transit. Many streetcar opponents claim the streetcar simply isn’t a reasonable alternative and cite the FEC as a more realistic option, however, I don’t know if this is because it wouldn’t be funded solely by the city or if it wouldn’t impede on their daily vehicular commute…

Miami: South of South Florida

Well, it’s official. Miami has seceded from South Florida. Yeah, that’s right, we’re no longer part of the lump which masses together unknown suburban municipalities into a family friendly destination. That is according to the Sun-Sentinel which recently happened to removed Miami-Dade County from its news channel listings. Apparently South Florida ends at the Dade-Broward line, anything south of that is uncharted waters or a separate friendly nomenclature; perhaps South South Florida, or North of Cuba will do the trick for the rest of us down here to have a geographical identity too. I never really cared much for the Sun-Sentinel’s coverage anyway. Aside from some facts, their articles have always had a pungent distaste for Miami on top their spotty and lack luster coverage. Take their upbeat take on the opening of the Carnival Center for example. I hope if anything, the Sun-Sentinel can continue to serve us one purpose: to continue giving us the bad news of what’s happening in the land South of South Florida…

Miami’s Multiple Personality Disorder


I saw this today on sale at Publix. Can someone tell me when Dolphin Stadium was moved out of Miami and into South Florida? I’m sick of this identity crisis we have in the Greater Miami area. South Florida is such a cheesy term. Why is it that we have to lump together all the local municipalities for the sake of inclusion (Ex: Super Bowl Merchandise, Local News, etc.) but, when it comes down to actual government everyone wants to be independent (Village of (Insert Stupid Town Center-like name here))???

At the Town Center


An unprecedented two town centers were announced yesterday in Broward County. The County will now feature several of these false city centers as the mall concept continues to decline in popularity nationally. The Margate town center will be located at the former site of The Swap Shop, while the Village at Gulfstream Park will serve as an Entertainment Center in Hallandale. I didn’t know you could place villages in the middle of counties with millions of people. What really irks me about these things isn’t the concept, but rather the actual execution by developers who see them as the next trend for sales. Making them trendy, typically negates everything that makes them actual Town Centers and gives them a fake charm rather than some actual substance…

Traffic Circles


A relatively new character appearing in many of our daily commutes in South Florida is the Traffic Circle. Today, we will discuss the advantages of such traffic calming devices and how their widespread implementation can be so useful.

The idea for this topic came about because of the many traffic circles already in use or under construction in the Coral Gables and the Roads neighborhoods. They serve many advantageous purposes and when placed in effective locations can provide some or all of the following benefits:

  • Shorter commute times
  • Improved Traffic flow through neighborhoods
  • Lower installation/operation/maintenance costs than typical stoplight intersections
  • Save fuel
  • Reduce accidents
  • Enhance and beautify communities
  • Improve pedestrian traffic

With fewer stop signs and traffic signals, commuters travel time is decreased significantly while also reducing the demanding fuel consumption of stop and go traffic flow patterns. They reduce accidents by forcing traffic to slow down to more manageable speeds and increase driver awareness. A study by the NTSB, found that traffic circles reduced all accidents at intersections by 39% and serious accidents by 79%.