Meet the Douglas Road Corridor MetroRail Line.This 4.5 mile project would connect the MIC to Douglas Road Station and US1, with stops at NW 7 Street,  SW 8 Street, and Coral Way. The line would service areas, like downtown Coral Gables, where land use already supports a high level of pedestrian activity. This should be a high priority for our leaders, and some are very supportive. Check out the 5 and ten minute walk sheds  – this line would run through some of the densest parts of Miami and Coral Gables – pluggining thousands of residents who have already chosen apartment living into the ultimate urban amenity – rapid transit.  (Not to mention creating another connection to the airport for those traveling to/from points south.)

 

29 Responses to I Heart Douglas Road

  1. Daniel says:

    High brow Coral Gables residents would go as far as to stand in front of bulldozers to make sure this didn’t happen. Is there really any recent new life to this old idea or are you just bringing it up for shits and giggles?

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  2. John says:

    Great idea! I think Metrorail expansions should be talked about more, because they’re absolutely crucial for future growth. This line would be very successful, and like Tony says, would bring Metro service to Miami’s second-largest employment center- Miracle Mile.

    Also, I think when we talk about Metrorail expansions, we should not forget that “Metrorail” expansions do not have to be heavy-rail exclusively. It’s all about branding. A light rail or tram line could easily service this area as well, and run as “Metrorail.” Boston and Philadelphia are two examples of this. They operate tram and light rail lines that are branded under the same name as heavy-rail. This helps riders understand the system better and clarifies the multi-modal MDT system.

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  3. John says:

    P.S. I love the map! Really great.

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  4. John says:

    we also need an EAST-WEST corridor ASAP! a line that runs parallel to Flagler would be nice. From Downtown to Tamiami

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  5. Steven says:

    I think that if anything beyond the Norht Corridor (up 27th Ave) would really frustrate a large group of the population. To be honest, I agree completely with the need to build a connection down Douglas Road and especially one out west, but the people in the North end of the county were promised premium transit down 27th ave all the way to the Broward line for years, only to have it snatched up for one reason or another each time.

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  6. 8thStGringo says:

    I’ve long advocated a line like this but the southern end should curve back northward toward downtown when it merges with the other line (not southward as shown). This will create a proper loop, allowing cars on the inner side to continuously circulate in one direction all day on a loop line with the outer line(s) acting as branches for better overall operations and traffic flow. It would probably mean that Coconut Grove would have to be the transfer station but that’s still the best way to build it.

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  7. Mike Moskos says:

    I can’t remember: is there an existing, unused rail line running on this corridor? If so, like a line running along Biscayne Blvd. on the tracks there it is a non-brainer. But, if it involves another hugely expensive elevated rail line, we may have to wait a long time.

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  8. M says:

    I have a question. If this line were built as light rail running down the middle of Douglas Road, would those vehicles also be able to run on existing Metrorail tracks? I don’t think people would allow elevated tracks down this street, but they might be more open to street-level tracks in their own ROW. This would probably be cheaper than elevated tracks also. If the trains could work on both sets of tracks, this gives a lot of potential for this line.

    I was also thinking that this line could be extended from MIC, using existing Metrorail tracks, to Earlington Heights and then run down the I-195 ROW and have a stop at Midtown and then to Miami Beach, south along Collins to South Beach and then back over the MacArthur Causeway to downtown. As long as we’re dreaming, we might as well dream big.

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  9. Rog in Miami Gardens says:

    Those maps are pretty cool, indeed! I wish we could get rail lines along every major corridor eventually, from NW 27th AVenue, to NW 7th Avenue, even along I-95 and the 836/826.

    Rail is the future! It’s time South Florida woke up.

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  10. Roger Van Klaas says:

    I think the Douglas Road Metrorail corridor would work best as a tram or light rail. It’s just cheaper to build, and heavy rail has been so difficult to fund federally and locally.

    Heavy rail expansions could come in the form of small spurs to key areas. For example, a Metrorail heavy rail spur to Midtown/Design District from Government Center along the FEC line.

    If we’re also dreaming here, a tram or light rail line down SW 8th Street to FIU is also badly needed. I wish MDT would do SOMETHING, ANYTHING. Sheesh…

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  11. Roger Van Klaas says:

    I agree with others, the maps are really great. Good job guys, keep it up! I always enjoy the great commentary here on TM.

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  12. Tony Garcia says:

    @Daniel – This is an idea that local elected officials from the area have supported to me as recently as last week.
    @John – thanks…i agree the greater transit conversation can and should include other modes, but in this instance surrounding land use (very walkable) and the short distance make this a prime candidate for heavy rail. the longer east/west routes along Flagler, 8th, Coral Way..etc lend themselves more to light rail, IMO.
    @Steven – yes, but the real challenge is to service the 27 ave corridor with a cheaper transit solution that can help build ridership, while focusing on areas whose land use and density are consistent with premium transit investment.
    @Mike M. – No, this is a four lane road, with center turn lane. No existing rail line.
    @8th Street Gringo – I think that is what I am proposing above (not clear from the diagrams above).
    @M – The real problem is how you get a light rail car running at grade up to the level of Metrorail without sacrificing a block or more of developable land trying to get up there.
    @Roger – thanks. I agree about Metrorail being used for small extensions – that is exactly the spirit of this Douglas Road connection. 4.5 miles is pretty short when compared with the typical 20+ mile transit project. :)

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  13. miamiman says:

    I have to agree with @Daniel. Whatever the plan’s merits, Coral Gables residents will go beserk. As did Miami Beach residents with the thwarted Baylink.

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  14. Malcolm Moyse says:

    I think the way to go is underground.the Douglas line should be a subway line instead of being elevated. This is possible.You can build tunnels in Miami. The government just don’t want to bring that topic up due to the high construction cost. This would be the best solution. This many be costly but the this would bring a good return in for years to come. Look at the NYC subway.

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  15. Steven says:

    I agree with the density problem on the 27th avenue corridor. I would think that the major traffic generators along that route would be Miami-Dade College North Campus, Dolphin Stadium, and Calder Race Track. I also feel though that trying to do the entire corridor in one shot would be rediculous too (especially since it is a full 9-mile run all the way to Calder Race Track and the County Line. I would feel that at least a run to Miami-Dade College North Campus (2-miles) would be a little more affordable in the short term and then eventually finish the remaining 7-miles in spurts.

    The problem with the Douglass Road option that I can see is NIMBY more than density. I remember back when an East-West line to FIU was mentioned a while back, talking with some of the planners about the horrible meetings in the area south of the Airport (right next to this area) and how they were practically throwing chairs at the concept of a rail line passing through their neighborhood. I can’t imagine Coral Gables residents being much better. I know that Coral Gables runs a circulator around this area with their money from the transit tax. I think that perhaps a streetcar that runs a route like this might be more advantagous in this case. Perhaps even a loop where one side is on Douglass and the other on Ponce? I don’t know these things too well though since I majored in Music and live in Tennessee now…

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  16. M says:

    I work in downtown Gables, so I’m very familiar with Douglas Road. Based on my experience, a streetcar or trolley situation would be horrible. Traffic is too bad on Douglas Road. We need something with its own ROW. Otherwise, there is no point. I 100% support a heavy rail option but my only concern would be aesthetics. The existing Metrorail in the median of 27th Ave is pretty ugly. I know that we have no money, but perhaps we could start designing Metrorail to be more visually attractive. I think that adds to quality of life also.

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  17. Daniel says:

    Yes a subway would be much better here. I’ve though of the same thing down Coral Way (could you imagine…) But the reason heavy rail is going down the tubes to light rail recently is that it no longer has any edge due to the fact that it hasn’t changed at all with the times. Heavy rail is supposed to be faster, it’s no faster than it was 50 years ago. Watch a Metrorail train go by at 57, it looks so slow, the cars were designed to go 70. Some light rails go 50-60 mph. On a good day you can almost beat the trains along S Dixie, which is sad. And the zig zagging northern leg is terrible, even in the worse traffic your better off driving, especially once you factor in waiting and walking time.

    If you could release that image under a CC license for instance by uploading it to flickr it would go good here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrorail_(Miami)#Proposed_expansions

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  18. John says:

    Putting Metrorail underground is completely unreasonable. For starters, the growing concerns of sea level rise, will put an extra strain on our groundwater, making a line underground almost useless. Secondly, the cost alone is so prohibitive, that it would never even get through the first rounds. I’m all for Metro expansions, but we should be reasonable.

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  19. Steven says:

    I am pretty familliar with the area as well. I actually worked in the Coral Gables/Little Havana area until recently (I just escaped from Miami recently). I totally agree with any transit alternative needing its own right-of-way through that area. When building a streetcar, you can operate them in traffic, but having their own ROW is preferrable. This is ultimately why I would suggest a circulator-type alignment with Douglass Road and Ponce. Such a solution would only take one lane from the road while “Spreading the wealth” of the transit alternative to the urban core a bit more through downtown Coral Gables. A majority of the alignments I am mentioning are 2 lanes in each direction with a turn lane down the middle. Limiting the number of lanes would drastically slow the traffic from the 50-65mph speeds you currently get down the roads there as well.

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  20. Tony Garcia says:

    Could be cut and cover type of tunnel where you get a redesigned – and complete street – above. The real challenge with Metrorail either above of below is the premium of doing work in Miami. These projects tend to be more expensive here. Los Angeles is currently building a 1.9 mile tunnel for their light rail line for an estimated $1.25 billion. Mind you that is California earthquake construction. For an elevated line like the one we are just finishing – other cities pay $150million per mile. We pay $212 million per mile. 30% more!

    A cut and cover tunnel will run a normal city $400 million a mile – meaning here it will cost $2.3billion to tunnel a train under Douglas (vs. $1.8 billion in another city).

    But the sea level rise issue is important. Some have suggested laying transit at grade and re-establishing the street at a higher level as a way to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise, and adapt.

    Not sure Coral Gables residents would revolt. Plenty of young professionals who want to be able to get around the county….

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  21. Daniel says:

    Question. Even after the whole sales tax debacle, isn’t the money still going to support something after the AirportLink is done? What doesn’t make sense is that somehow the tax was enough to cover the already existing budget gap AND build a 100% local and state funded heavy rail expansion. So after it is done, what will all the sales tax money be going towards? Why does everyone talk like after this it’s nothing? Is the cost of operation going to go up so much that somehow they were able to build the line but will then struggle just to run it? Impossible. I’ll bet soon after this is complete they come out and say they will be building something else soon. Maybe it will be this.

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  22. Sammy says:

    Is their any chances of this being built when the county is looking for a new leg to build?

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  23. Miami Urbanist says:

    Excellent Work, transitmiami. Perfect alignment, but would even think the station frequency could be greater, considering the density. Perhaps insert a Flagler Stop, and perhaps one at Douglas Park or the Water Park at Grapeland Heights. But this is just picky. The plan is wonderful.

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  24. Neil says:

    Once you build the first mile south to NW 7th street, would it make more sense to continue south instead of taking that 3.5 miles west? That would take you almost to the Palmetto Expressway. I consider going out at least to 57ave to be a high priority. It would service another high density area that includes a lot of lower income people who use public transit more. In the long run (decades from now), I see the Midway Mall area a good candidate to become another mini-downtown area like the area south of Dadeland Mall.

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  25. Malcolm Moyse says:

    @ John: there have been many metro systems build in areas that is close to see level.The key is the engineering behind it. To avoid water entering the subway tunnel, they would build subway entrances and exits 3 feet above the ground and also they will have flood gates every mile. The port of Miami tunnel is being build this way. When Hurricanes threaten to make land fall,they will close the tunnels.
    S/n: the county just doesn’t want to pay for something this grand and don’t know how to ask for money, so they make people think it’s not possible to build a subway in Miami. One way they could get money to pay for it is to make this a public works project that will include grants not for just for transit but for utilities such as power lines and sewers. the government will 8 out of 10 grant the money.

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  26. Jason says:

    Instead of framing Metrorail’s future as a battle between light rail with grade crossings and grade-separated heavy rail, you should point out the obvious middle ground: light rail vehicles like those used by the San Francisco MUNI that are EQUALLY capable of running at grade AND running on the same tracks as Metrorail.

    Likewise, there’s no need for the complete dichotomy between at-grade and totally separate rail. Let’s take a hypothetical light rail line running alongside FEC (just to give an obvious example). On one hand, a grade crossing at Miami Gardens Drive or 163 Street would be complete madness and insanity. On the other hand, a grade crossing at NW 172 Street would barely be noticed. Use LRT vehicles that can run at grade through areas where it’s crossing residential streets and 2-lane roads, but duck under or go over the MAJOR roads.

    In terms of ridership, I still think the gold standard for Dade County would be extending Metrorail (possibly with new trains that can also run from catenary power at grade where third-rail would be unsafe) west to Dolphin Mall, then south through Sweetwater, past FIU, Kendall Drive, Metrozoo, and ending up at Southland. It might not give you the warm touchie-feelies of serving existing dense urban areas, but it WOULD enocurage development around stations further east because THOSE would end up being the attractive job sites where people who live in SW Dade could easily travel. It would also hit some of the most major job sites in Dade… FIU, Dolphin/International Mall, 87th Avenue, MIA, Jackson, downtown, and Brickell.

    Oh… right. Planners worry it might encourage “Sprawl”. Newsflash… Dade sprawled out to there 30 years ago, and kept going. If you really want a funky idea, envision a transit-oriented skyscraper development with adjacent equestrian park next to a Miller Road station (for people with enough money to afford a horse, but nowhere near enough to afford the estate home on a 5 acre lot you’d otherwise have to buy to have somewhere to put it… so they buy a condo with deeded stable, and go riding after work). If you really want to screw with the minds of Redlands folks, tell them they could lease a stable in the same development, ride their horse 2 miles to the station, drop him or her off (paying for daycare), take Metrorail downtown, then pick up their horse and ride him home after work. I can see the mindfsck now ;-)

    The whole appeal of the 27th avenue line is the idea that it will attract Broward riders. In an ideal parallel universe where it continued west along the northern edge of the Turnpike to Miramar, then meandered past (future) downtown ‘Pines, Pembroke Lakes Mall, Pembroke Gardens, then ran north along 75 to Weston & Sawgrass, that might be true. Now for reality: Broward will never, EVER put itself on the financial hook for anything Dade County has spending control over, because Dade County is a financial black hole. The only way it would EVER happen is if Broward totally owned 100% of the tracks north of the stadium and ran its own trains that continued south to downtown or Dadeland, under an agreement that left it non-liable for anything Dade might catastrophically screw up. Broward’s paranoia wouldn’t be unjustified, either — we’re talking about a county whose transit agency REDUCED METRORAIL SERVICE during their biggest ridership boom in history. MDTA couldn’t properly run a customer-focused transit service if God himself handed it to them on a gold plate. They’d do something stupid, like make it free (or offer nearly-free fares to just about everyone), then wonder why they had no money to properly maintain it & why homeless people were treating it like a public motorhome.

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  27. Tony Garcia says:

    awesome commentary Jason. the flexible light rail lines are a great idea that we have been toying with too.

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  28. Jason says:

    Thanks :-)

    While I’m still in my Transit Mood, here are some other ideas to think about:

    If there’s some way for them to get a pedestrian walkway into the new Port of Miami Tunnel, they could build a Metromover spur to the Port of Miami, and put the station adjacent to an elevator leading down to the tunnel (with a similar elevator on the other side leading up to an elevated pedestrian bridge connecting the attractions on both sides of the causeway). Somebody heading to Parrot Jungle would take Metromover to Freedom Tower Station, take the stairs/elevator up to the new single-track platform above FEC, board the next ‘mover, ride to the port, exit, walk to the elevator, head down, walk ~400 feet through the tunnel under Government Cut, ride the elevator up on the other side, and emerge from the elevator with a panoramic view of the whole island & downtown before heading to their destination on Watson Island. It’s something that would be cost-insane to build on its own… but if the tunnel’s already there and tweakable, and MDTA builds Metromover to the port anyway… well… that turns a good project into a totally *kick-ass* and *cool* one.

    Wait. It gets better. Extend the new “port” mover line another 2 blocks west, and build it into the new FEC passenger rail terminal, which will almost certainly end up also serving TriRail2.0 to Aventura, downtown Ft. Lauderdale, and the rest of FEC to WPB. Eventually, build a new pedestrian bridge above Overtown Station leading into the new FEC train station, with corridor/escalators continuing to the PoM’s Metromover station.

    As for South Beach… I personally think the best route for Metrorail would be to follow 112, then continue east along 195. Put a station adjacent to 195 between Miami Avenue and US-1 next to Midtown, with covered and lighted walkways (including pedestrian bridge over US-1) so people heading north could exit, take the walkway a block east, then wait for the bus under 195. It would also make Midtown Miami’s newest transit superstar, instead of being a transit-oriented development without actual transit. Anyway, continue east along 195, then take the train underground as it runs along the northwestern edge of Mt. Sinai and put a station somewhere around Arthur Godfrey Road… conveniently, right at the edge of Miami Beach’s official downtown. From there, continue south all the way to South Pointe in a shallow cut & cover tunnel below the golf course and Pennsylvania Avenue, with stations at Lincoln Road, ~12th street, 5th Street, and South Pointe.

    This would put a station within easy walking distance of substantially ALL of South Beach, especially the tourist areas, and provide a direct transfer-free route from MIA straight to SoBe. By putting the tracks under Pennsylvania Ave, you’ll avoid screwing up Washington Avenue for 2+ years. As a practical matter, by the time the escalator gets up to sidewalk level (assuming the tracks are directly below the street, and the mezzanine is deeper), the station entrance will be practically adjacent to Washington Avenue *anyway*.

    As far as Metrorail down Douglas Road goes, it’s a good idea, but I’d put it further down the road after extending Metrorail to Kendall. Building Metrorail is a political balancing act. If you look at the modern rail lines that have succeeded (Washington DC, BART, maybe DART in Dallas), they acknowledge the fact that their role as longer-distance surface rail for outlying suburbanites is as important as their role as a proper subway through dense urban neighborhoods. At the end of the day, Metrorail needs the support of Dade County voters in Kendall & South/West Dade. If they feel like they aren’t getting anything for their money, they’ll fight it. Once Metrorail goes to South/West Dade & Kendall, filling in the more urban parts will get their support too, because it’ll increase the number of useful places they can ride it to.

    I really wish MDTA could find some graceful way to extend the Green line another ~2 miles west & south into what will someday be Downtown Doral. It might be greenfield today, but it’s probably the best shot at real transit-oriented New Urbanist development Dade County’s ever going to get. For better or worse, Doral is never going to have the kind of freeway connectivity to the rest of Dade County that it needs to support the kind of development they have planned for the next 10 years. If Metrorail went into the heart of Doral, people who end up working there someday would take it because driving would just be too painful. Plus, it’s enlightening to look at the history of OTHER successful transit systems. Back when it was first built, New York’s IRT line ran through greenfield farmland that subsequently developed almost overnight into dense urban neighborhoods to take advantage of the new stations.

    Once a site is developed, it’s too late to do anything about it for 30-50 years (Miami Arena & Bakery Center are bizarre, messed-up aberrations that don’t count). Dade needs to get the tracks into Doral *first* so Metrorail’s existence can drive the last two square miles of Doral’s inevitable development and channel it in ways that are transit-friendly & anchor the Green Line’s northern end.

    Developers won’t develop for transit that might never come. They might hold off on a vacant lot or two in case it gets built someday, but in the meantime, everything that gets built will be conservative car-oriented projects they know they can market & sell. If they feel like Metrorail is likely to come, they’ll hold off on building anything else for another year or two, and the moment they see the pylons going up for the guideway, the unbuilt auto-oriented development plans will be instantly scrapped and replaced by transit-appropriate projects that will break ground once the deck structures are done and the trainsets are ordered.

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  29. [...] to walk too. Also, there has been talk of creating a metrorail line that will go down Douglas road link to info. The only thing about downtown coral gables is, there are some homeless scattered about. I don't [...]

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