Under the guise of hosting a discussion about the future of mobility in South Florida, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has brought our leading transportation officials together with anti-transit Libertarian Robert Poole to go over their plans to greatly expand toll roads in Miami-Dade County.

Tapped by our soon-to-be-one-term Governor as one of his transportation advisors, Poole has finished an 18 month ‘study’ of how to improve transportation in South Florida. The reason for the study, according to a press release, is that “[The 2035 Long Range Plan] puts a major emphasis on alternatives to driving—transit, bicycling and walking. In fact, of the $58 billion available for transportation between 2015 and 2035, the plan devotes 62% to improving and operating various forms of transit. Unfortunately, if the plan is implemented as written, by 2035 a smaller fraction of all trips (2.6%) will be made via transit than the 2.9% made via transit today.”

Fair enough. That might be true, but that has more to do with the over reliance on BRT over rail transit. The conclusions made by the report are nothing less than preposterous for transportation and urban planners, pointing to ‘managed lanes’ as the panacea to our mobility challenges. (Insert gag here).From the press release:

The plan includes four key components:

A region-wide network of expressway managed lanes (MLs) like those on I-95, encompassing 302 route-miles and 1,117 lane-miles;

Upgrades for 14 key arterials (107 route-miles) with underpasses at major signalized intersections, an innovation we call “managed arterials” (MAs);

Premium bus rapid transit (BRT) as in the current long-range plan, but operating mostly on the “virtually exclusive busways” made possible by the network of MLs and MAs, rather than on politically dubious bus-only lanes;

A series of system operational improvements, including extensive expressway ramp metering and further expansion of traffic signal coordination.

These four components tell a striking story of the city that Poole (and his cohorts at FDOT and MDX) would have us inhabit. On the one hand Poole contends our current Long Range Transportation plan (with its reliance on BRT) is not going to be successful, yet his plan relies on the exact same BRT system (as stated above). He proposes that MDX and the Governor create tolled highways out of major arterials (like US1 and Flagler), utilizing overpasses and underpasses that will be costly to build and blight the city, to create revenue AND ‘premium bus rapid transit’ corridors. Unfortunately, bus rapid transit does not work on highways where folks cannot easily get on/off. The best BRT systems in the world run at grade, in a dedicated lane, and in the city center. This plan is doomed to fail because it views transit as an afterthought.

This is real BRT (from Bogota).

The idea of using transit as a way to sweeten an otherwise bad idea is not new. We have been reporting for some time about MDXs plan to run a highway parallel to US1, under the dubious assumption that it will greatly improve transit service. (Meanwhile, low cost transit improvements that would greatly improve service, like signal coordination, go unimplemented because of their impact on local traffic.)

MDX has been planning on tolling everyone for some time - they have just been sneaky about it.

 

There is so much to dislike about this plan that it is hard to know where to start. First the idea of greatly expanding tolls on what Poole calls “urban toll expressways” (ie. neighborhood streets) will create highways in places where we are trying to lower speeds and increase pedestrian, bicycle and transit use. These highways will be in direct competition with transit, and rather than be subsidized by the government, the costs will be borne by the citizens of South Florida. Already saddled with high tax and few mobility options, the Governor and MDX will double down on a failed transportation system by taxing residents, so that they can in turn build more highways! The Ponzi scheme developed by MDX to build and toll and build some more will be spread all over the land.

I am all for bus rapid transit, but it should not be used as a chaser for the bitter pill MDX and the Governor are trying to push down our throats. We need to continue to build our rail network and then we can start to feed into it with BRT. If officials want to create bus-only lanes, the way that every other city in America is doing, great! Close a lane of Bird Road, Coral Way, 8th street…etc. and have BRT running to the heart of our metropolis in its own dedicated lane; but don’t start building highways all over the city. It’s time for MDX to wake up and realize that mass transit is the future of our region – not highways. If it doesn’t evolve, it might find that there are a great many people, myself included, who don’t see a reason for it to exist anymore. We want transit – not tolls.

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10 Responses to MDX, Governor Scott Want to Toll Major Arterials

  1. R says:

    Here Here. I recall the 2060 FDOT meetings, the bulk of people want rail transit and were vehemently opposed to new highway construction.
    I guess that was thrown out the window too.

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  2. Matthew Toro says:

    We absolutely have to focus on light (trolleys, etc.) and heavy (Metrorail, etc.) rail transit.

    There should be absolutely no new highway development in our community. And our arterial roads should not be further transformed into quasi-highway speedways.

    As Tony says, if you want to create *real* BRT along our arterials, do so by dedicating at least one of their lanes (some of them are already 4 or more lanes each way!) to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes. And, of course, provide these dedicated BRT lanes with full bicycle facilities (at least 5′ wide bike lanes).

    However, I’m all for the imposition of tolls on highways. People need an economic inducement to open their eyes to the convenience and efficiency of public transit.

    Make driving automobiles on highways so costly that people realize that it’s simply uneconomical (and foolish) to commute to work in single occupancy vehicles.

    Make driving the least desirable transportation option!

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  3. Alex Baquero-Lima says:

    Its ironic. I am also a libertarian. However, Poole is off his rocker. How the heck is he an expert? Im sorry I may be fiscally conservative but taxes exist for a reason. I just believe the federal government has gone out of control as of late.

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  4. Tony says:

    Worst proposal ever. We need passenger rail, Metro expansions, not more bridges, highways and roads. This proposal would take us back 60 years into the Stone Age. Ayayai…

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  5. Alex Baquero-Lima says:

    ^This. I would love to see the facts before I shoot Poole down so hard, but what he is proposing does not seem logical to me. How can public transit use go down if you build more of it? Its absolutely ludicrous. Its like saying public transit will go down after the Airport Metro station opens up. No sense.

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  6. B says:

    The only way I can think of for transit trip percentage to go down while service goes up is if you have lots of new development away from the area served by transit, in particular, west of Krome. Hmmm….lots of new toll-paying customers for MDX…is this the underlying plan?

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  7. Craig Chester says:

    All of these plans assume traffic volumes will go up and up, which ignores something called “reality”. Gas prices, insurance rates, stagnant wages and a generational shift that values driving less are all factors working against the increasing auto-travel characterized by prior generations. In fact, Americans have been driving less for about the past 5 years now, and logged the fewest miles in 2011 since 2004. All signs point to that continuing, at perhaps a faster pace than the prior 5 years.

       1 likes

  8. UDB says:

    Google “Reason Foundation” and see what you find. It’s not surprising that this pathetic managed lanes scheme is being pushed by a so-called independent think tank. Reason is funded by an unholy alliance of oil companies, car makers, and ideologues.

       0 likes

  9. Henry Flagler says:

    yup

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  10. Mike says:

    Expanding tolls so the rich can ride like Kings. Let’s just start an aristocracy here in the States like the UK.

       0 likes

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