“…Congressional pressure was increased on UMTA to show some positive results from their research and development expenditures. So, in 1975 UMTA announced its Downtown People Mover Program and sponsored a nationwide competition among the cities, offering them the federal funds needed to design and build such a system. Since UMTA was prepared to pay most of the costs of planning and building these systems as part of its demonstration program, the response from the cities was almost overwhelming…”
Free money to develop an urban transit solution in an age of increasing congestion, if it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it was; none of the “top” cities initially considered for people movers built them, leaving millions of dollars available to secondary cities like Miami and Detroit.
“…In 1976, after receiving and reviewing 68 letters of interest and 35 full proposals and making on-site inspections of the top 15 cities, UMTA selected proposals from Los Angeles, St. Paul, Minnesota, Cleveland and Houston. It also concluded that
, Miami and Detroit would be permitted to develop DPMs if they could do so with existing grant commitments…” Baltimore
Needless to say, the people mover system was a botched, rushed, and half-hearted effort from the US Department of Transportation to fund and research reasonable transit solutions for the ever growing congestion problems of the 1970’s. Unlike
In riding around on two of the three systems, I’ve come to identify their obvious shortcomings and deficiencies. Their failures can be attributed to a lack of supportive regional transit infrastructure as well as absurdly poor integration with their surroundings. The pictures below accurately depict most of these problems, turning the Jacksonville Skyway transit stations into inhospitable, inaccessible urban realms for pedestrians, like much of the rest of the city already is…
This evening picture depicts the surface parking lot (1 of 2) which I had to cross just to access the San Marco Station. This “neighborhood” contains a few of the ritzier hotels in Jacksonville, all of which are surrounded by surface lots, isolating the transit station in a sea of asphalt:
The Prudential plaza is one of the few buildings built up close to the Skyway, its unfortunate that the other side of the station was crowded by a parking garage.
Apparently, Marlin’s owner Jeffrey Loria still isn’t isn’t pleased with the Orange Bowl site, and is threatening to reduce his funding contribution for a stadium to be built on that site. From the Herald:
Hernandez said the club is looking to cut its contribution out of concern that building a new stadium on the site of the Orange Bowl — a plan that has gathered support recently among city and county leaders — would not be as profitable as the downtown site that the team prefers.
Some people (including myself) feel that Loria has been stingy with his proposed funding contributions, but in this case he’s right to be concerned about the shortcomings of the Orange Bowl site.
To further complicate matters, construction costs are steadily rising due to the increasingly small window available to finish construction for the new stadium by 2011, when the Marlins hope to be moved in. If all this isn’t enough, it is now being estimated that “road improvements” slated for the area surrounding the Orange Bowl could cost as much as $12 million.
As commissioners lose patience with the stadium deal, Vice Chairman Sanchez sponsored a resolution Thursday calling for an updated stadium plan by a December 13th deadline. He even wants the team to go public before then to announce their commitment to the Orange Bowl site. This ought to be very interesting (as if most political/capital decisions in Miami aren’t).
Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald
According to the APA,
Great Places in America celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard of communities. The designated streets and neighborhoods are defined by several characteristics, including good design, functionality, sustainability, and community involvement.
Specifically, Ocean Drive was recognized for its unique architectural legacy, citizen-led historic protection and planning efforts, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented restoration and redevelopment, and ongoing public support.
Not really any surprises, there. I give credit where credit is due, and the planners and citizens of Miami Beach have done a heck of a job (excuse the Bushism) the last twenty years turning Ocean Drive and South Beach around by utilizing its natural resources (density, historic architecture) and engaging the public realm for people instead of cars. It’s really a great local case study that I wish more planners and citizens in neighboring municipalities would research.
Photo courtesy of CTPEKO3A’s Flickr photostream
In honor of the Ft. Lauderdale Boat show opening today, we present Larry Ellison’s Rising Sun, a 453 foot behemoth private Yacht. It is reportedly the largest private mega yacht not owned by a head of state and fourth largest in the world (it has 82 bedrooms, a gym, and a wine cellar.) Mega Yachts, generally those measuring over 80 feet, are apparently the hot item at this years boat show, that is if you have tens of millions of dollars laying around…
The Hollywood- Young Circle Arts Park has been impressively executed. The centrally located new park is a strong indicator of Hollywood’s very serious commitment to creating a livable exciting environment for its residents.
Many of the right notes were hit in this redesign of a delinquent public space. Water features as well as beautiful planters (beautifully planted) and progressively designed lampposts, benches and playground rides abound.
The arts center building is boldly envisioned and yet aesthetically accessible to the masses. An adjacent outdoor performance space holds great promise for building a strong community. Perhaps the one significant criticism is the lack of shade trees. Although they are not non-existant, my September visit to the park was, notably, a sweltering experience. The inclusion of mature Ceiba trees as a gateway to the park is nothing less than regal. Hopefully the shade trees that have been planted will fill in nicely over the coming months and years. The park is a major achievement, both civic and aesthetic, and should be looked at as model to be emulated throughout South Florida.
- The Houston MTA has voted to use LRT on all of its upcoming 5 rapid transit routes.
- How do you resolve a budget deficit of $29 Million? You spend $102 Million to build a streetcar of course! This method is being pitched by Cincinnati’s City Manager, who argues that the added benefit the streetcar will bring will more quickly pull the city out of economic recession.
- Seattle voters will soon be heading to the polls to vote on a massive transportation bill which will simultaneously expand LRT service and widen highways…
- Alesh provides a run down of how to use Public Transit. Plenty of good points, particularly: the environment, exercise, reading time, and money. The only thing I’d add to the list is social interaction…
- Earth to these people…Lowering the parking rates at the Sonesta will CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS… If anything, parking meter rates should increase to discourage people within walking distance of the grove from driving around in search for a parking spot. If you need help on how to get around without a car, see Alesh’s post above…
- Michael Lewis provides us with some much needed insight on the former fountain in Bayfront Park once dedicated to Claude Pepper…
- Rail apparently isn’t a viable option to connect to the port… We still disagree…
The Blogroll is now working again. The program periodically stops working…
We’d like to welcome our newest writer, Andrew Davis who will soon be contributing his thoughts, stories, and ideas with us.
As always, If you have any articles or thoughts you’d like to share with us, leave us some comments or shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)…
This past Tuesday Broward county held a transit summit with the intent of getting input from the public on what is wrong with public transportation in Broward County and what can be done to fix it. Mayor Joseph Eggelletion started up the public portion of the summit. The most notable thing he mentioned was that Broward county wants to “think green” with their transit. This is a departure from recent trends, as they have foregone any hybrid options for new buses such as the highly touted articulated buses for the 441 Breeze route. Perhaps they will follow PalmTran’s lead and use biodiesel.
The president of the American Public Transportation Association, William Millar, delivered the keynote speech. His speech offered a few pointers to improve transit, but nothing earth-shattering. The most insightful information of the summit was some numbers comparing the transit system in Broward county to other Metro areas, from Miami to Seattle to Atlanta. [I
don't have these numbers with me at work.] They all have more buses and more rail than Broward county, but only because they each have a dedicated funding source. Last year Broward voters passed up a 1% sales tax increase that would have gone toward transit, and the system will continue to stagnate if residents are not willing to pay for expansion.
Two of the suggestions I wrote down were to secure a funding source and to connect to Miami’s Orange Line Metrorail when they come to the Broward County line. Metrorail’s deputy director told me their final elevation was such that Broward County could connect to their tracks. The ball is in the hands of the voters. If we can vote to tax ourselves, the county says they will listen to us and use that money where we want them to. In the meantime, additional summits will be held on Nov. 13 and on Jan. 24. Go andtell them how to make our transit better.
I didn’t get to stay for the end to hear what other comments were, so I don’t know if the overall tone was good or bad.
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