- MIA Cargo is still #1, despite a slip in market share…
- Bacardi is consolidating it North American operations into the 250,000 square foot building originally intended for the BK world headquarters…
- FDOT moves forward on plans to pour more money into the colossal black hole known as I-95…
- Forget the lost Arctic Seal in Ft. Lauderdale, we’ve got bigger fish to fry…
- BOB addresses the I-395 realignment plan…
- Rebbecca Tackles the Buses in the Shoulder initiative intended to allow buses to bypass highway congestion…
- Watch the Streetsblog Berkeley Bikestation video…Can anyone see this ever happening in Miami?
- These are some Ugly McMansions…
- The Priciest cities for Parking…Miami is Below average which is no surprise…This is a bad thing people…
- Top 10 Reasons why Green Business is here to stay…
- Carlos Miller Reacts to my US Marshall encounter…
I continued my walk into the CBD with this view of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. I’ve posted this picture below to not only show the hideous temporary fencing that has been surrounding the courthouse for the better part of the past couple of years, but to also show the actual picture I was taking when the first of two interesting events occurred this afternoon.
As I crossed the street after taking this picture, a subject caught crossing the street in the photograph was patiently waiting for me on the north side of Flagler (Where’s Waldo?) Now, allow me to pause a second to describe this character. I’m no stylist but, I’m conscious enough to realize that she was wearing far too many layers of makeup under Jackie-o sunglasses. She was also wearing dark leggings under open-toed shoes, far out of the ordinary even for the cast of characters which typically roam along our downtown streets. My conversation with the deranged lady (DL) went as follows after she flagged me down and pulled me out of my own tranquil universe:
GJL: Yes, may I help you?
DL: Do you work for the government?
DL: Do you work for a private company?
GJL: Um, Yeah.
DL: Why did you take a picture of me?
GJL: Excuse me?
DL: Why did you take a picture of me just now as I crossed the street?
GJL: In case you didn’t notice ma’am, you were standing in front of one our downtown’s most prominent and historic structures.
DL: I saw you! You took a picture of me and I want to know why!
I proceeded north further into the courthouse district with my ipod and in search of further urban opportunity. As I glanced back I witnessed my new friend darting from empty police car to empty police car before she decided to follow me. I turned west to get a shot of a “Your Tax Dollars at Waste sign” as she continued following me. Lucky for us, there was an occupied police car between me and her, where she was able to pause and discuss my alleged paparazzi activity (which would have been completely legal, in any case.) Obviously nothing came of her police inquiry as I walked by the squad car and received a wave and almost apologetic smirk from the officer…
I trudged on North towards the courthouse complex and MDC and into the scene of my next extremely odd encounter. Along the way I saw further reminders of the second largest diamond district in the
I came across a stunning building in the CBD. I’ve read about it the downtown development authority’s historical walking guide to downtown, but I forgot who it was owned by and when it was built. I’d like to note however, the covered portico, the ground level retail, the sense of some human-oriented planning. The building was obviously designed at a time when pedestrians were still kept in mind and should serve as a model for our future urban infill considering it adequately addressed the pedestrian needs given our hot and often rainy climate.
I continued on towards the federal courthouses and MDC campus. After reading William Whyte’s Project for Public Places, I was anxious to experience the public places established in our federal courthouse complex and major downtown educational facility. The interaction between the federal courthouses and the street is awkward and downright hostile to pedestrians. A large “temporary” concrete barrier keeps cars (and pedestrians) far enough away from the surroundings and the barren concrete
Standing on the sidewalk (public property) from the MDC side of the street (Public School,) I proceeded to take the pictures depicted above. As I happily snapped away, still listening to my ipod, a couple of rent-a-cops from across the street on the federal courthouse began to flail their arms at me frantically. As I removed my earphones they were yelling to stop taking pictures of the federal courthouse. Now, this happened to me once before about two years ago, so I had an eerie feeling that things hadn’t changed since. I was with some visiting family walking around the CBD, snapping pictures of the newly rising federal complex, when we were apprehended by the same rent-a-cop currently yelling at me. That time however, he stepped out of line and reached for my younger cousin’s camera, prompting near chaos because of his inadequate training and general concept of what is truly legal. In any case, knowing I was within my full right to continue photographing the public complex, I continued snapping away, including this picture of the so called security:
I continued walking west along
GJL: Good Afternoon, I’m Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal of TransitMiami.com, what can I help you with today?
USM: Hey, how’s it going? I’m
GJL: Yes, I was and as far as I know that isn’t a violation of any current or past US laws.
USM: Oh, no, not at all sir. We just like to know who everyone is taking pictures around the federal courthouse.
GJL: Speaking of that, I see your undercover car and gun, but may I see some credentials to verify that you are who you say you are, you can never be too sure in today’s world.
USM: Sure. (Show’s US Marshall Badge and ID Card)
USM: May I see your Drivers’ License to verify your name? What was the name of your website again?
GJL: Sure. (Provide him with my ID) Transitmiami.com… Check it out, the pictures I took will be up there soon…Now, as far as I know, I’m within every right standing on the public sidewalk to photograph my surroundings, correct?
USM: Correct. You just have to understand sir in this new state of security (insecurity) in the
GJL: Oh, I understand sir. I guess it may be a matter of national security (insecurity) to chase down people who snap pictures of the federal complex. Is this a common occurrence for the
(I then realized the
USM: Well it happens often enough…
GJL: Excuse me officer, but I don’t believe it is necessary for you to write down my License number as well as my name, we have both determined that I was within every right to take pictures. I provided you with my ID and granted you permission to jot down my name and would have gladly obliged to give you my license number had you asked…
USM: Oh, don’t worry sir; you aren’t in any trouble…
GJL: I’m fully aware I’m not, we both clarified that no law was broken (you, just plan on running a background check on me…)
USM: Thank you very much for your time sir. Have a nice day and enjoy your stay here in
Lovely. I couldn’t possibly imagine that I would have been apprehended by a
Lucky for me my encounter wasn’t with a city of
Disgruntled enough I continued my tour north into the omni complex, which will appear in the conclusion and part 4 of this series…
This billboard was recently erected at the corner of SW 27th Avenue and US-1 by the northern boundary of the Grove. What a bunch of garbage – it appears this sign is implying that true urban living (e.g. Brickell, Downtown) is inherently stressful, while the less urban nature of the Grove is some desirable suburban oasis that is stress-free. What is even dumber is that the Grove and Brickell/Downtown are all neighborhoods within the City of Miami; therefore, this billboard illustrates that Miami actually has it’s own neighborhoods competing against each other as if they were separate cities.
Amazingly, the bike lanes almost didn’t happen. One of Miami’s 387,962 NIMBY groups masquerading as a neighborhood improvement organization, the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association, had been a vocal opposition to the bike lanes on 16th. “I understand cyclists want bike paths, but why 16th Street”? Nice argument – I’m sure NIMBYs everywhere were proud.
According to the Sunpost, the real issue at hand is the right-of-way along 16th Street that would need to be taken back by the City in order to accommodate the bike lanes AND widen sidewalks. Similar to the Grove’s opposition over the quality 27th Avenue enhancement project, Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association members are concerned that the City will reacquire public right-of-way between buildings and the sidewalk that has been used for private means (e.g. landscaping). Commissioner Richard Steinberg took the stated position that “widening the sidewalks toward the buildings would not, in fact, encroach on private property, but in reality the private property was encroaching upon the city land”. It’s great to see an elected official embrace the public realm and what’s best for the city as a whole and not the private interests of a few NIMBYs.
photo courtesy of huwkan’s flickr account
MDT has gained federal approval to begin land acquisition for the next branch of the metrorail line. No, I’m not talking about the much needed east-west extension, but the north extension, rising along
I am obviously disturbed that the North extension is proceeding before the even more crucial east-west corridor is constructed. What irks me most is that MDT is spending millions of PTP money to construct yet another N-S rail link, even though the line would essentially parallel the existing Tri-Rail route. At the same time, the SFECC is working to provide a third N-S rail link, funded by the FDOT, along the FEC corridor, while the USDOT is working on a plan to add managed lanes to I-95, despite a multi million dollar unused FDOT project which sought to add a controversial yet proven Ramp Metering system. Seems unreasonable? I think so, especially when it becomes apparent that our layers of government are effectively working against each other to solve a common problem.
I hate to see things in such a grim manner, but I can’t foresee the north corridor garnering enough riders to justify its’ construction. With competing government entities working to improve existing rail and road routes, the north corridor is seemingly becoming the next white elephant of the metrorail system. On the plus side, it will connect Dolphin stadium with a direct transit source which should garner us at least 7 weekends of extensive use (twice that when UM finally heads North too.) Aside from the northern 2 stations, however, the southern five are awkwardly placed at best, running across mainly industrial and single family home neighborhoods; areas generally not geared to handle the addition of such a major transit line.
My main concern is the $800 Million we’re working to receive from the
Update: Speaking of funding issues…
View of Biscayne Boulevard beautification project:
The Mayor delivered an historic, encouraging speech today at the State of the City Address yesterday. Among the major items mentioned by the Mayor, there was a heavy emphasis on becoming a greener, more sustainable city. In support, he mentioned that Miami 21, the Streetcar, higher densities, green buildings, and an improved parks system are crucial to accomplishing these goals. The Mayor even went so far as to challenge everyone in the City to change their traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones, which save loads of energy and subsequently cut down significantly on CO2 emissions. As you can see from these statements, as well as quotes below, the Mayor was very critical of sprawl and clearly understands the dynamics of sustainability:
- “We will move away from government policies that invest in sprawl”.
- “Cities (incl. Miami) have been planned around cars and not people – well, not anymore. We need to move away from government policies that invest in sprawl”.
- “Make no mistake, the low density suburban sprawl the characterizes growth in South Florida is the true enemy to sustainability…the cure for sprawl is a return to the core, bringing people together so they can live, work, shop and play close to where they live”.
- “The message will be clear, you either build green (in Miami), or don’t built at all”.
- “We need to invest in a streetcar system today, like the one we used to have. And, we must do it while we can still afford it. Rather than wait years and Miamians (wonder) why we failed to act, a streetcar system is an inevitable solution – Miami can either pay for it now, or pay for it later – leaving future generations to pay a much, much higher bill to ensure sustainability”.
- Building boom
- Bond increase
- Performing Arts Center
- Miami 21
- Parks and Public Spaces Master Plan
- Miami Streetcar
- Miami Tree Master Plan
- LEED Green Building Initiative
- Coconut Grove Waterfront Redevelopment
- Virginia Key Master Plan
- Museum Park Master Plan
In an apparent attempt to provide yet another use for the park, the city is constructing a children’s play area to accommodate some of the families moving into the downtown condos. I like the idea, most parks have places for kids to play but I am worried that the park has already become too cluttered.
I noticed something unusual. There were people in the park, mainly concentrated along the shore, but most of them were sitting in the grass or leaning up against the coconut palms. I was wondering why there wasn’t any suitable seating in the park when I came across the vast concrete bench apparently designed to fry anyone in the park who wanted sit. Nearly all the available seating in the park was in direct sunlight. The few shade trees in the park all had someone sitting below them on the grass…
There is a big green fence swallowing up half the park and blue one obstructing another quarter of it. The green fence is part of what I assume is
The second major obstruction, surrounded by a large blue fence is that of the Sunset Cinemas, also known as Movies by the Bay. Movies by the Bay is an intriguing idea concocted by the Hertig Family of
The other recent attraction to
They just don’t build them like this anymore. This is the
The Olympia Theater (
The Historic Walgreens, now home to La Epoca Department store, was built in 1936 by Zimmerman, Saxe & MacBride, Ehmann. Designed in a streamline modern style, this building was home to Walgreens for over 50 years; it featured a popular cafeteria and was only the third Walgreen open outside of
The First National Bank of
The Downtown Burdines store (sorry Macy’s, I don’t care for the name games) was originally built in 1912; however it was remodeled in 1936 in the streamline art deco style. This store is the anchor of the downtown retail industry. The city is working closely with the store to clean up the surrounding area after Macy’s threatened to leave.
The last couple of pictures below depict some of the urban decay and grit which still covers much of this area. I am glad to note that some new stores have started to move into the area including an upscale optical store as well as some chain shoe stores. The downtown American Apparel, located North of Flagler however recently closed. Revitalizing this area and creating a vibrant shopping district in the urban core needs to become a top priority for our city. With thousands of condos coming into the area, we need to have an area with easily accessible pedestrian oriented shops and cafes…
Stick around for part three, where I was apprehended by a US Marshall for being normal…
I decided to post Steven’s excellent recap of yesterday’s meeting regarding transit along the Kendall corridor. I’m glad someone was able to attend to share this with us:
I was able to attend the meeting tonight at the “Kendall Village” location. First and foremost, I would like to say that the location is a bleak reminder to what we need to avoid in planning. It is essentially a big mall that is offset from the main roadway and is a huge waste of space. As I walked through the area I couldn’t help but wonder how much different the place would be had there been another level or two with low cost apartments rather than the community-like environment they were trying to achieve by putting roads through the middle of the mall.
Anyways, on to the meeting!
The room was surrounded by pictures depicting different various transit alternatives ranging from BRT to Heavy Rail to DMUs. Next to the large pictures of these different transit technologies were maps depicting route alternatives with charts depicting cost vs. ridership predictions vs. effect on traffic. Additionally there was a table where they were showing traffic analysis of the Kendall area should the alternatives actually be constructed. We were also able to talk with the different planners about the different portions of the projects.
The actual meeting portion started with a representative of the project speaking to the group about where in the stages of development they were (presently in the alternatives analysis part). The different alignments were as they are presented on the website and are listed as follows:
1. Exclusive Right-of-way BRT down the middle of Kendall Drive from US1 to Krome Ave.
2. Metrorail or Heavy Rail down the middle of Kendall Drive from US1 to around 152nd Ave.
3. Exclusive Right-of-way BRT from Dadeland North Metrorail down SR 874 to Kendall and then out west to Krome Ave.
1. Heavy Rail or Metrorail extension from FIU to 152nd Street
2. BRT running from FIU down Coral Way to 137th Ave and then south to 152nd Street
1. CSX alignment running DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units) from MIC to Metrozoo
2. CSX alignment running DMUs from MIC to Tamiami Airport
The main differences between the CSX alignments are where stations would be placed and how frequently trains would run and if double tracking would be an option.
The floor was then handed over to another member of the planning team who discussed traffic concerns. During his presentation, many interruptions took place in the form of audience members questioning what was being presented. Such things sparking debate and uproar from the crowd was the amount of time that a gate effects traffic flow being only 45 seconds. Additionally, on a model they produced based on actual traffic numbers, several members of the crowd spoke in disbelief that the numbers were accurate. Prior to the completion of the presentation and opening of the floor to questions, someone in the audience interrupted repeatedly asking what percentage of the people in the area would benefit from the construction of a heavy rail alternative.
When the floor was opened to questions, a group of citizens had claimed a 9 minute block of time to present on how they were displeased with the CSX alternative and how it would be inappropriate. Their presentation was fair and well produced. Unfortunately what followed the three person presentation was more complaining about the CSX corridor and how it would keep people awake at night as well as block traffic among other things. Very little was said about Metrorail, but some were obviously for it while others were clearly against it. One woman said that the only way that she would support it coming down Kendall is if she were compensated for it obstructing her view.
The people complaining about the CSX issue pretty much dominated the entire meeting from the middle of presentations all the way to the very end. One threatened a class-action lawsuit should it be considered in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Many called for the heads of the planners and made claims that they were incompetent and unprepared for the meeting, in spite of the fact that we are in the alternatives analysis phase and alignments are only now starting to be considered.
I figured the CSX issue would dominate the conversation, seeing that a) people here are against any at-grade rail options because it would further hamper their vehicular commute and b) there are far too many houses built along the rail corridor, another example of planning gone amiss. Lucky for us, Florida Law prohibits any sort of compensation requirement for “blocked views.”
The Miami Mentality still going strong:
However, some opponents of the plan say it would only worsen traffic.
“This interferes with east west traffic on all corridors between [Southwest] 152 street and the Miami Intermodal Center, said Erick Moffett. “It also impacts several avenues north and south.”
Right, transit will make the situation worse for us because it will interfere with east-west car travel. You know, never mind the fact that the east-west travel could ride the train instead, that would be too practical… I’ll touch some more on the subject later…
The MPO is looking for public input concerning future transit options in the Kendall area. Proposed options include an extension of metrorail, BRT, or extending tri-rail further south through the existing CSX tracks…
6-8 PM @ Kendall Village Center
6-8 PM @ Country Walk Homeowners Association Clubhouse
For more information on the project, click here. I will not be able to attend, but, if anyone can make it out and would like to share what happened and what the most common residents concerns were, please e-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A good example for realizing such a system can be found within the 27th Avenue beautification project, which should be finalized in the next couple months. I find this to be one of the most encouraging, visionary projects in a long time in Miami. The concept is simple: implement bike lanes on 27th Avenue, between US-1 and South Bayshore Drive, giving bicyclists a dedicated right-of-way from the bay to the Metrorail. Of course the improvements in the pedestrian realm are also much needed and will certainly enhance the corridor from that aspect; however, the biking infrastructure will make the prospect of riding transit much greater for those living near 27th Avenue and >0.5 miles to a transit station.
This model should be adapted for the following streets, at a minimum:
This also has the potential to significantly reduce congestion on these thoroughfares, especially during rush hours . Under the current system, massive park-n’-ride lots are designed to encourage people who want to use Metrorail, but cannot easily (or quickly) get there by walking, to drive to stations. Then, they are faced with $4.00 parking fees. Biking to the stations instead would eliminate these issues.
Furthermore, if Mayor Diaz really wanted a world-class Green Policy, he would embrace this plan by requiring all new commercial buildings in the CBD and Brickell to provide bicycle parking and locker rooms with showers so riders could clean up before work if necessary. Toronto has amended its zoning laws to require that new large-scale developments provide storage and showering facilities for bikers. Given the excessive parking requirements currently mandated by the City, I don’t think it would be too much to ask to provide these bike-friendly facilities – at least if you really care about sustainable transportation and traffic reduction.
Lastly, providing the bike infrastructure has inherent benefits even without everyone using it to connect to transit. Biking presents a fast, efficient, dirt cheap transportation alternative to the automobile. If you use 10MPH as an average biking speed, one could go from Downtown Coral Gables to Downtown Miami in just 20 minutes; it would take just seven minutes to travel one mile. This is significant, given that nearly two-thirds of trips under one mile are taken by the automobile.
This is part II in a series on biking in Miami. Part III will look more specifically at some potential routes…
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