Forty years since the publication of a visionary transportation planning document, the shortcomings of Miami-Dade County’s transportation reality suggest that we lost our vision somewhere along the highway, literally.
TransitMiami invites you to take brief trip through time . . .
The year is 1973. The Dade County Public Works Department has just released its State Transportation Programs Proposal for Dade County 1973-74.
In it, a chapter titled Mass Transit (pp. 72-98) makes declarations of a new “beginning on development of a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County”, in which “non-highway elements” are stressed to be at least part of the solution to Dade County’s burgeoning population and economy.
Indeed, there seems to be a fundamentally new consciousness — dare I say, a paradigm shift — reorienting the urban planning and public policy realms away from highways and toward mass transit.
The beginning of that Mass Transit chapter reads:
Metropolitan Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation in recent years have become increasingly active in planning the improvement of mass transit facilities. With less emphasis on highways alone, programming efforts have been broadened to multi-modal transportation facilities, including airports, seaports, rapid transit, terminals for truck, rail and bus companies, as well as the highway and street system that serves them and provides local traffic needs.
There’s a sense that perhaps the mid-20th century notion of highways being the transportation panacea has finally begun to lose potency. A more holistic, more enlightened view has apparently begun to gain traction, one which posits that transportation corridors and corresponding land-uses perform best when designed to serve the myriad means and purposes of mobility, as well as the urban environment’s diversity of functions.
Here are some of the major mass transit proposals from the report:
- 53.7 miles of high-speed transit served by 54 stations,
- bus routes operating on expressways and arterial streets,
- feeder bus routes to complement other bus routes and rapid transit,
- mini-systems at selected transit terminals to provide local circulation and link traffic generating areas with rapid transit.
Fast-forward 40 years into the future. The year is 2013.
FDOT and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) — and the construction, automobile, and petroleum lobbies — actively and aggressively seek to expand highways.
Tax payers are being charged $560,000,000 (that’s right: more than half a billion!) for the highway expansion mega-project at the SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway) Interchange.
Real estate developers eager to cash-in on building single-family cookie-cutter homes along the urban periphery in the west and south of the County lobby to transgress the Urban Development Boundary (UDB). Residential sprawl continues to lower the quality of life on the edges of the city.
Eager to keep its agency coffers growing, MDX writes hyperbolic reports emphasizing inflated demographic growth projections on these suburban outskirts, thereby seeking to further justify its southwestward expansion of SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway). MDX advocates for expanding tolled highways in order to generate increased revenues aimed at the perpetual expansion of highways in greater Miami.
Those same city-destroying developers-of-sprawl back MDX — as do all others in the broader network of profiteers — because they perceive as far too lucrative to forego the opportunity to cash-in on pushing the boundary of Miami further into the Everglades and into our fresh water supplies.
Even on roads that have long exhausted their traditional function as “highways”, MDX pursues measures to retrofit them so as to restore their obsolete highway-performing characteristics. This is epitomized by MDX’s “US-1 Express Lanes”, whereby the agency hopes to reduce the dedicated South Dade busways to accommodate new tolled arterial travel lanes for private motorists, as well as, most notoriously, create elevated overpasses (that is, create more “HIGH-ways”).
Meanwhile, our mere 23-station elevated heavy-rail Metrorail system traverses a very linear (and thus limited), virtually-non-networked 25 miles, including the recently added, yet long-overdue, Miami International Airport / Orange Line extension. This is literally less than half the of the 54 stations and 53.7 miles of rail network envisioned in the planning document from 40 years earlier.
Planned expansions to the Metrorail intended to create a true network have been scrapped due to a lack of political will to secure dedicated funding sources, along with an over-abundance of administrative incompetence and corruption.
After decades of false starts, broken promises, gross mismanagement of public funds, and outright political apathy, the time is now to regain the vision put forth four decades ago. The time is now to withdraw ourselves from our toxic addiction to the 20th century model of single-occupancy vehicles congested on highways. We must stop supporting those who seek to destroy our collective public spaces for personal gain through the incessant construction of highways.
The time of the highway is over. The time for “a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County” is now.
Has Miami-Dade County lost its vision for public transit over the last 40 years? — most definitely. However, one can find solace in the fact that this is not the Miami of 1973, nor of ’83, ’93, or ’03. We are no longer the Miami of the past.
This is the Miami of 2013. This is our time. It is up to us to set forward — and bring to fruition — the vision for the Miami of 2053 . . . and beyond.
Ladies and gentlemen: We present to you an important, visionary opportunity to support the creation of not only the first private railway network linking Miami and Orlando via the All Aboard Florida initiative, but also a recreational trail along that same 230-mile stretch!
All Aboard Florida is the ambitious project intended to link Miami and the greater Southeast Florida region with Orlando and the greater Central Florida region. It’s something we at TransitMiami are particularly excited about, and, frankly, you should be too!
What’s even more exciting, though, is the vision being advanced by the non-profit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. With our (meaning the people’s) support, Rails-to-Trails hopes to make a small but significant modification to the All Aboard Florida railway plan: ADD A TRAIL!
That’s right, along with connecting Miami to Orlando with a much-needed railway, why not add a multi-use trail connecting these nodes (and everything in between) too?!
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is asking for our help in this regard with the following message:
Imagine traveling from Miami to Orlando by rail-trail!
It could happen, thanks to a new rail expansion project called All Aboard Florida. But your voice is needed to make sure rail-trail opportunities are included in the plan.
All Aboard Florida is a proposed rail connection between Miami and Orlando. This rail line will be America’s first privately built, privately maintained inter-city rail services since the creation of Amtrak.
The best part is that the 230-mile rail corridor also provides an excellent opportunity for trails alongside the railway.
Right now, the FRA is in the early stages preparing an environmental impact study of All Aboard Florida — and they’re accepting public comments through Wednesday, May 15. It’s the perfect time for you to speak out for the inclusion of rail-trails in the plan!
The window for submitting public commentary on this possibility is about to be closed, so be sure to submit your message of support for the addition of a trail alongside the All Aboard Florida railway as soon as possible.
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.
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.
Is the optimal place for bicyclists really between speeding traffic and swinging car doors or is bicycle planning in most cities still just an afterthought? Can it really be the case that major arterial roadways planned for reconstruction like Alton Road in Miami Beach which are between 100′ and 120′ really have no room for bicycles?
The plan for Alton Road which the City of Miami Beach approved is still the wrong one but neighborhood organizations are not accepting that the plan is set in stone until the concrete is poured and dry.
Though Miami Beach is in the top 10 cities in the nation for biking to work according to the US Census, a perfect storm of Department of Transportation heavy-handedness, local bureaucratic impassivity, and ineptitude on the part of elected representatives has led to a hugely expensive design no one endorses. Alton Road, expected to become a showpiece of island multi-modalism, will instead become a wide-lane, high-speed, completely-congested Department of Transportation boondoggle say residents. If Miami Beach can’t get a multi-modal design with its committed and educated pedestrian and cycling advocates is there any hope for the rest of the country?
Thousands of major arterials around the country are in the process of reconstruction right now as the first roadways of the Highway Act of 1956 are being rebuilt. And despite the amazing strides made in a few exceptional places, the default design on the traffic engineer’s books is still the wrong one. The difference now is that residents know better. This is making the job of elected officials who have always trusted the DOT very difficult. Something’s got to give.
Residents are available to discuss this important issue further.
On Facebook: Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition.
On the web:
Miami Beach Resident and Urban Planner
May 1st “news release” from the Florida Department of Transportation & Florida Turnpike Enterprise:
Florida’s Turnpike will host open house Tuesday, May 14, to discuss proposed widening project in Miami-Dade County
The Florida Department of Transportation, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, will host a public information meeting/open house to discuss the project development and environment study for the proposed widening of Florida’s Turnpike from Campbell Drive (Exit 2) to U.S. 1 (Exit 12) in Miami-Dade County.
The informal open house meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at Miami-Dade College Homestead Campus, Building F, 500 College Terrace, Homestead, Florida 33030.
The public is invited to attend and express their views concerning the location and conceptual design, as well as the social, economic and environmental effects of the proposed improvements. Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise representatives will be available to discuss the project and answer questions.
The proposed 11-mile project will add roadway capacity to meet existing and future travel demand for the year 2040. [Really?]
For more information or to provide comments about this project, please contact Project Manager Henry Pinzon at email@example.com or 1-800-749-PIKE, ext. 3802.
Your participation is needed, Miami-Dade County!
- Do we wish to use our tax dollars to further expand (tolled) highways?
- How is FDOT deriving its population growth and land-use change projections for 2040?
- Do we wish to expand highways to accommodate, intensify, and accelerate the already rampant suburban sprawl in the southern parts of Miami-Dade County?
The following is an urgent update by Brickell resident Mark Batey on the crash that killed a pedestrian in Brickell on March 23rd. This crash happened in nearly the same exact spot where a female jogger was seriously injured on the sidewalk by a speeding driver in October.
“Miamians, please share this update. 4 weeks ago Ana Mares was killed in a hit and run in Brickell Bay Drive. I have been in touch with her sister, who is becoming desperate at the lack of progress in this case. Her family is beginning to receive the medical bills, which are huge, and apparently the person whose car hit Ana has no insurance.
The owner of the vehicle is named as Joy Terry Lee Clayton. She lives at 21455 87 court SW Miami Dade, and works at the legal department of University of Miami. She has got a lawyer and is saying that although the car that hit Ana is hers, she was not driving it herself!
Ana Mares was hit with such force that she was thrown 65 feet. Her sister is convinced she was already dead at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the person who did this is still driving around the streets of Miami.
The black Mazda shown in the video is apparently not the actual one that hit Ana. The one that hit Ana has some lighter colored panels (either for effect, or because work was being done on the car).
If you have any information, the lead detective can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share and let’s help get justice for Ana, who, by the way, was a cancer survivor.
Editors Note: We’ve been appalled at the lack of media coverage or official police, city, or elected official communication in response to this fatal crash. Brickell is the densest residential neighborhood south of New York City. This senseless death has not been given the attention it deserves. It’s reasonable to believe there were more witnesses that would come forward. Meanwhile, this criminal is still on the lose, driving around Miami. Please contact the Miami detective above if you have any information.
This just reinforces our call for Brickell Bay Drive to be given a ‘road diet’ to reduce the travel lanes to 2, and including a buffered bicycle lane with on-street curbside parking. This would dramatically improve safety conditions for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists while having minimal impact on vehicle traffic flow. In other words, make Brickell Bay Drive a Complete Street to better accommodate all users of this road. Brickell has undergone a transformation but our streets are still stuck in the past, making merely going about your daily business a dangerous endeavor. Our suggested reconfiguration of Brickell Bay Drive can be done with a few cans of paint – seems worth it for a road with such an atrocious safety record lately.
Also, please sign on to the “Stay on the Scene” initiative to strengthen Florida’s hit and run laws in response to the crash that killed cyclist Aaron Cohen on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Our friends at All Aboard Florida (AAF) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announce a series of Public Scoping Meetings/Open Houses concerning the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of constructing and operating an intercity passenger rail service linking Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. The same content will presented at each meeting.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel – Milan Ballroom
5445 Forbes Place
Orlando, FL 32812
Monday, May 6, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Culmer Center – Multipurpose Room
1600 NW 3rd Ave.
Miami, FL 33136
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Gaines Park Community Center – Addie Greene Hall East
1505 N. Australian Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Thursday, May 9, 2013
3:30 to 7 p.m.
Havert L. Fenn Center – Room 5
2000 Virginia Ave.
Fort Pierce, FL 34982
A pedestrian bridge above US-1 at the University MetroRail station was recently approved by Miami-Dade County and is currently moving closer to an agreement. Though a state and federally funded project of $6 million, the University Centre mall owner has raised some concerns and is refusing to allow the county to build the bridge on its property. The bridge to channel university students, middle school students, metrorail riders, and others to the popular strip mall has been in the works for several years, joining the other existing US-1 overpasses. The Pedestrian Safety Access Committee formed with the long-term goal to build the pedestrian bridge in direct response to 3 student fatalities at the intersection since 1990, along with several accidents.
Looking at this situation at face value, this project makes perfect sense: people are dying on the intersection, so take the people off the intersection. But I challenge you to stand back and examine the bigger picture of crossing US-1 at this intersection and every other one in Coral Gables, South Miami, and beyond. Is the problem uniquely at this intersection, or along the entire stretch of the fast-moving, 6-lane highway? Due to very high speeds, awkward street-level pedestrian crossings, unbuffered and narrow sidewalks, and poor street lighting, I think we can agree that this stretch is hostile to non-motorists. Michelle Simmon, public involvement coordinator for Miami-Dade Transit stated back in 2007 that ‘the main purpose of the long-term bridge project is to encourage pedestrian safety while making the Coral Gables community more “walkable.” Yes, ‘channeling’ pedestrians into a bridge does have the potential of keeping pedestrians safe, but does it encourage walkability?
Pedestrian Convenience. A walkable community is possible when the built environment is convenient to the pedestrian, bicyclist, student, parent with baby stroller, etc. Making decisions that inhibit pedestrian convenience such as narrowing sidewalks, reducing crosswalks, ‘forcing’ people to go up and over a street – then these decisions make the built environment inconvenient and therefore, less walkable. But if we redesign the street to discourage speeding, add wider sidewalks buffered from vehicular traffic, pedestrian street lighting, and common-sense street-level crossings (and using a lot less than the $6 million) we could achieve both safety and walkability for all road users.
Neighborhood Unity. Instead of creating a street that welcomes its neighbors, we are making decisions (like numerous pedestrian bridges) that add up toward creating an automobile sewer. This is the root of the problem, and the reason for these vehicular deaths in the first place – we are literally trying to put a highway into the middle of a community. Why are we surprised that pedestrians, students, children are trying to cross the street in their own neighborhood? Instead of encouraging to further dissect this area, we need to consider the potential to transform this massive right-of-way into the safe neighborhood center the university, middle school, and residents deserve.
Traffic Priorities. The problem in this dangerous intersection is not the pedestrians, but the unobservant drivers. But who are we punishing? the pedestrians. And who are we prioritizing for dominion over the street even more? the drivers, observant or not. A walkable neighborhood is not void of cars, drivers, and traffic, but rather re-prioritizes its road space to accommodate a full range of transportation choices. Slowing traffic down does not guarantee more congestion either. In fact, some of the most efficient roads in the world are in slow-speed, walkable environments. By humanizing the thoroughfare with better street-level crossings, lighting, wider sidewalks, street trees, narrower traffic lanes, and even on-street parking, we can effectively slow traffic, and persuade drivers to be more alert, attentive, and vigilant, fostering a safer atmosphere for all.
If building this University Station pedestrian bridge could save just one life, then yes, its construction is more than worth it. But what’s next in encouraging safety and walkability? Are we going to continue constructing pedestrian bridges at every intersection over Dixie Highway – and with whose funds? And does that leave the people who will still cross at street level with a more dangerous thoroughfare? I challenge this community, the Pedestrian Safety Access Committee, Miami-Dade County, FDOT, and others involved to improve the pedestrian experience on the street level. In many ways the easiest solution is to build the pedestrian bridge. However, six million dollars can provide a lot of funding for this community if our residents and leaders are brave enough to tackle the root of the problem. We should not take these deaths lightly, but we do need to consider the full range of options to improve the safety, convenience, and value of the US-1 corridor. Just as Michelle Simmon from Miami-Dade Transit stated, “A livable community has to be a safe community.” By humanizing this dangerous, dissecting thoroughfare, we can not only save lives, but also our community.
The Miami-Dade County government is holding a Transportation Summit supposedly committed to “visioning the future of Miami-Dade County’s Public Transportation”.
I’m encouraged to believe that this summit is going to mark a significant turning point in the evolution of our city and its public transportation network. As recently reported in the Miami Herald, at the late February State of the County address, Mayor Carlos Gimenez explicitly recognized that ““We’re facing major mobility challenges”, and that “We need to embrace innovative and cost-effective changes.”
To register for the event, please visit the registration website at:
The Summit is scheduled to take place at:
Miami-Dade College – Wolfson Campus
Chapman Conference Center 3210
300 NE 2 Ave
Miami FL 33132-2296
There are going to be four break-out sessions in total, with attendees having to choose between one of two topics for the morning and the afternoon sessions. The two morning topics participants have to choose from are as follows (taken directly from the registration website):
Morning Session Topics
Morning Session A: Innovative Financing Opportunities: Transportation projects utilize a wide variety of revenue and funding from federal, state, local, and private sources. With funding for planning and projects becoming increasingly tighter, transportation agencies are employing innovative strategies to finance capital costs.
Morning Session B: State-of-the-Art Transit Technologies and Mode Choice: A key transportation issue for our community is weighing the trade-offs among the various fixed route alternatives. Discover solutions that offer diverse ways to efficiently develop Miami-Dade’s transportation network through ways including bus rapid transit, rail systems, system design, automated guide-ways, etc.
Afternoon Session Topics
Afternoon Session C: Establishing Public Private Partnerships: Understand the importance of new partnership efforts between the private sector and the various levels of government in the state. Also hear about innovative programs in several states and share your experiences.
Afternoon Session D: Corridor and Priorities Planning: The planning and development of multi-modal corridors — “the next big thing project” — starts with consensus among many stakeholders in a region, including the walking, riding, and driving public, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations. Prioritization involves many considerations ranging from design and construction of infrastructure to community values in areas such as mobility needs and desired land uses. These themes cut across bus (bus rapid transit, exclusive bus lanes, etc.) and rail systems (underground, elevated, and surface alignments), as well as stations, etc.
Lastly, there will be a “Community Visioning Forum” from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.
The County seems to be taking this event quite seriously too. This could be it, folks! This could be the year that we start to build a broad, diverse, determined coalition of the progressive to finally push for an environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically vibrant set of mobility solutions. It’s time we brought Miami into the 21st century. This Summit could be our chance!
Needless to say, then, our community needs your participation!
To register for the event, please visit the registration website at:
The Summit is scheduled to take place at:
Miami-Dade College – Wolfson Campus
Chapman Conference Center 3210
300 NE 2 Ave
Miami FL 33132-2296
For the future of Miami, let’s make this event bigger and more momentous than any of us could hope . . .
We often hear that Miami is becoming a world-class city, but the sad truth is that Magic City is quickly becoming the country’s first gated city. What’s even worse is our elected officials are championing and using public funds to build walls and fences along the public right-of way, reducing mobility options for the general public and dividing communities in a futile attempt to reduce crime. This type of reactive urban planning is being used by elected officials to appease their constituents, but the truth is there is no evidence that gated communities are any safer than non-gated communities.
Meanwhile, Miami has one of lowest police–to-residents ratios of any major city in the United States. I’ve lost count, but we’ve had at least 2 or 3 police chiefs in the last four years. The city has failed to provide enough officers to patrol the streets of Miami and now the city is scrambling to add 33 officers to the police force this year.
A few years ago, the city coughed up about $1,700,000 to build a wall for the Coral Gate community. Here are the pictures of our elected officials celebrating their ugly tax-payer funded wall. What’s even worse is that these pictures are posted on the city of Miami’s website as if this is something to be proud of; it’s not. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment. A world-class city should not support gated communities, much less pay for them.
About 6 months ago Commissioner Sarnoff ponied up another $50,000 for Belle Meade to build a fence. See for yourselves how ridiculous and infective this fence is:
Now Morningside residents are considering a fence around the perimeter of their neighborhood as well. No word yet if the city will pay for Morningside’s fence too.
No elected official should be proud of this piecemeal ineffective urban planning strategy. Quite the contrary, the city should not even allow walls or fences to be built. I’m not sure why the city’s Planning Department allows this to happen.
We’re posting this on short-term notice, but better than nothing.
The City of Miami is hosting a Public Information Meeting for residents and business owners in the community to discuss plans for the Baywalk project, which would run along Biscayne Bay from Alice Wainwright Park (just south of the Rickenbacker Causeway) all the way north to the Julia Tuttle Causeway, nearly all of the City of Miami’s coastline. The City (and TransitMiami, of course) wants as much community participation as possible. (Unfortunately, though, it also conflicts with this month’s regular Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, so mobility advocates will have to decide where their voices will have most impact.)
Tuesday, April 23 (TODAY!) @ 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Residencia Jesus Maestro
717 NE 27th Street, 6th Floor
Miami, Florida 33137
For more information about the meeting, please contact Public Informatoin Specialist Jeannette Lazo at 305 573 0089 or Email her at: Jeannette@iscprgroup.com
Last Wednesday morning over 250 people gathered for a ULI sponsored panel discussion about development opportunities along the FEC in Ft. Lauderdale. For years the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has been trying to bring commuter rail service along the FEC corridor from Palm Beach County to Downtown Miami. Shamefully, not a single elected official from Miami Dade County attended this event; nor did any officials from Miami Dade Transit or the Miami Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization .
I’m not sure in what bubble world our Miami Dade elected officials live in, but this is not acceptable. Events like this should be well attended by Miami politicians as well as by Miami Dade Transit and MPO officials. It seems like our South Florida neighbors in Broward County and Palm Beach County “get it”; there was solid representation by elected officials from Broward and Palm Beach County.
It’s time for Miami to start taking a more regional approach to public transit with our neighbors in Palm Beach County and Broward County. This “go-it-alone” strategy doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s embarrassing.
Please Register Online by:
Friday, April 12, 2013
Online at seflorida.uli.org
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- Jeff Redding on FDOT Making Brickell Safety Improvements for Cars, not Pedestrians
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