What’s the minimum requirement to have your name plastered on a street sign in Miami? I haven’t quite figured it out yet, if you do, please let me know. The list isn’t exclusively dead people, influential people, or extraordinary people, so what is it exactly that makes some of these people qualify? 16th St. morphed into Jose Canseco St. forever immortalizing the juiced Coral Park graduate into a Miami direction. I can’t imagine telling people I live at 10523 Jose Canseco St. I understand naming streets after important or influential people: Brickell, Tuttle, Collins, Lummus, Douglas, Flagler, LeJeune, Curtiss, etc. Somehow a guy who gets 1.1% of the votes to not make it into the MLB hall of Fame just doesn’t cut it for me. Perhaps it was the two counts of aggravated battery he received after pummeling two California Tourists which earned him the honor of forever leading vehicles into the East entrance of FIU.

Now, I don’t intend to pick on Canseco, it just happens to be the first unworthy street which comes to mind. There are some signs like the one pictured above: Orlando Urra Blvd of the Americas/NW 20th St./Teofilo Babun Dr./N. River Dr. Pick a name! Notice: all names do not apply in all directions… Orlando Urra must have owned the Boulevard of the Americas, at least that’s the impression I’m getting. Has the street naming department gone mad? It’s almost like: “Hey! You have a face; want a street named after you?” These aren’t even memorable street names. What’s even more absurd is the amount of names they have tried to tack onto a single sign; I’ve seen worse than the one above but, just couldn’t whip out my camera quickly enough. Frankly, I’d like to see what will get printed on the new lit street signs currently replacing all the other perfectly good non-lit variety…

Oh look, a Cuban Exile website compiled a list of streets in Miami renamed to honor Hispanics…

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This Saturday, March 3rd, the proposed Miami Parks and Public Spaces Master Plan will be unveiled to the public at Jose Marti Park located between SW 2nd Street and SW 4th Street on SW 4th Avenue (on the Miami River). The event will last from 10:00am to noon. Below I’ve posted directions via transit:

1) Metrorail to Government Center
2) Transfer to #11 bus (FIU-bound or Mall of Americas-bound) at the plaza on NW 1st St.
3) Get off at first stop over the Miami River bridge (SW 6th Ave.) and cross the street
4) Walk two blocks south on SW 6th Ave. to SW 2nd St.
5) Turn left onto SW 2nd St. and walk two blocks east to South River Drive – Jose Marti Park will be right in front of you

To Get Back:

1) Pick up the #11 bus (Downtown-bound) at SW 5th Ave. & SW 1st St., and exit at the Downtown Bus Terminal
2) Walk two blocks north to Government Center @ NW 1st St. & NW 1st Ave.

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I was just reading Neither Here Nor There, Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson, when I came across a marvelous passage I’d like to share with you all (excellent book and author, well worth the read…)


“…but I just hate the way architects, city planners, and everyone else responsible for urban life seem to have lost sight of what cities are for. They are for people. That is obvious enough, but for half a century we have been building cities that are designed for almost anything else: for cars, for businesses, for developers, for people with money and bold visions who refuse to see cities from ground level, as places in which people must live and function and get around. Why should I have to walk through a damp tunnel and negotiate two sets of stairs to get across a bust street? Why should cars be given priority over me? How can we be so rich and so stupid at the same time? It is the curse of our century-too much money, too little sense…”

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Here at TransitMiami, we often are very critical of Miami’s auto-oriented planning legacy. However, while Miami has recently made strides toward a denser, more sustainable, more pedestrian-oriented city (Streetcar, Miami 21, countywide efforts such as metrorail expansion), the Phoenix-Tempe-Mesa metro area continues its pursuit to be the King of Sprawl. Tempe council members and Mayor Hugh Hallman are pressuring the Arizona Department of Transportation to expedite a proposal to widen a section of I-10 to 24 lanes! The fact that city planners anywhere would take this proposal seriously is unfathomable. Perhaps they attended the University of Wendell Cox, the (un)Reason(able) Foundation, or some other group that advocates for unsustainable, climate-destroying sprawl through pseudo-science and selective data that leads to inaccurate and misleading conclusions.

Countless studies have concluded that widening highways is almost always an exercise in futility. One report uses a creative analogy to illustrate the ineffectiveness of widening highways:

“Consider the role laxatives should play relieving constipation. Laxatives are sometimes appropriate, but it is generally best to address constipation by changing diet (more fiber and liquids) and exercise (take a walk), because laxatives’ effectiveness declines with frequent use, they can hide more severe diseases, and they can exacerbate other medical problems. A physician who prescribes laxatives without investigating why the patient is constipated or considering other solutions is guilty of malpractice.

Similarly, chronic traffic congestion is often a symptom of more fundamental community design problems, such as inadequate mobility options that force people to drive for every trip, and dispersed land use patterns that increase travel distances. Where this is true, expanding roads may reduce short term symptoms but exacerbate long term problems. “

Click here to read the rest of the study.

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The Miami-Dade MPO is considering an initiative which would bring waterborne commuter transportation soon to our shores. The 99 passenger catamarans would run every 30 minutes between the city of Miami and Haulover Marina in North Miami-Dade and Matheson Hammock in South Miami-Dade. A Miami terminal is planned for the dead end street just north of the Hotel Intercontinental, just one block away from the Bayfront Park Metromover Station. Catamaran acquisition as well as improvements to both Marinas is estimated to cost $18 Million.

I’ve heard this idea floating (pun intended) around for quite sometime now. Similar systems are already integral parts of other transportation networks including: New York, Boston, San Diego, Houston, San Francisco, Sydney, and even London. There are also plans to bring commuter ferries to Chicago along Lake Michigan and Washington D.C. along the Potomac River. Despite commuter ferry success elsewhere, I have many reservations about this project. The decentralization of our city makes such a project fairly difficult to attract sufficient riders. The given route also seems to be a bit redundant to existing public transportation (Tri-Rail and South-Dade Busway/Metrorail) which have thus far failed to successfully attract riders (likely due to the decentralization and inability to properly integrate transit with the surroundings.)

Now, I don’t want to completely discredit the idea either. The ferries would transport commuters from two fairly affluent neighborhoods, a concept which was recently proven to be successful with Metrorail station boarding statistics. The park and ride idea could also work well given that it doesn’t completely remove vehicular use from the commuter. I think the fare should be split between rides and parking however, to further encourage the reduced costs of carpooling or seeking alternative forms of arriving at the departure marinas. The commuter ferry should be a driving force for the city to vastly improve all of our waterfront space. Rather than creating a terminal by Bayfront Park as proposed, I believe the catamarans should berth in the cut just north of the American Airlines Arena alongside the upcoming museum park cultural center. The city should then work to bring the Miami-Key West Ferry from Key Biscayne to this same terminal essentially creating a local water transportation intermodal center which would be only one block from the Parkwest Metromover Station and easier to one day link with Baylink or a Miami Streetcar.

There are serious hurdles which need to be overcome, none of which can be solved by just the MPO or any other single branch of local government. In order to make our transit options successful we need to work to centralize our city while making commuting options as comfortable, seamless, and attractive as possible. Miami’s waterfront park space needs to become an integral part of our city, bustling with pedestrians and activity in order for this concept to succeed. Ferry service, if centralized, could one day offer locals and tourists alike easy affordable transit to our coastal cities, Key West, or even further abroad; after all we are the cruise capital of the world…

BCT Mechanic Pay raise is in the works…

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I came across the Earth Day Network’s Urban Environment Report which took the time to score and rank 72 major urban areas in the United States based on environmental policy and sustainability principles. Needless to say, Miami came in a spot better than I anticipated; 71st place.

View City results

About Earth Day Network…

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The above photograph came from the airplane mounted camera of local photographer James Good. Although certainly not one of his most creative pictures, this picture gives us an excellent aerial view of the realignment of Biscayne Boulevard along Bicentennial (Museum) Park. The beautiful design in the median with new wider sidewalks on either side, will allow the new residents of the condos emerging behind to easily access the Carnival Center and all destinations along the Boulevard easily by foot. The initial conceptual drawings included images of sidewalk cafes, tree canopies, and streetcars running along the new more pedestrian friendly corridor. Of particular interest is the small building in the bottom center; a water treatment pumping facility which emits a foul odor and isn’t planned to move elsewhere anytime soon…

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  • Rick and Alesh lament over a dead proposed bill which would have required slow drivers in the left lane to move out of the way of faster drivers. We saw a similar measure reach Jeb Bush last year, where it was vetoed, citing that there was already an existing law to cover such measures. Once again, it all boils down on better driver education and more enforcement of existing statues by our understaffed Highway Patrolmen.
  • Balloons floated 400 ft over the Mercy Hospital site where three high-rises are slated to rise, to simulate the visual effect the buildings would have on the surroundings if erected. Nonetheless the simulation proved all of our worst fears about this project:
    “It’s worse than even my most horrible thoughts, which were pretty horrible,” Miami historian Arva Moore Parks said while watching the balloons hover over Vizcaya.

  • The Miami-Dade MPO voted unanimously in favor of building the Everglades Skyway Bridge through an eleven mile segment of the Everglades in order to properly restore water flow. This is a great project, aimed to finally correct decades of destruction caused by the Tamiami Trail, however, I must contest the MPO claim that the $300 million project would prove to be a “tourist attraction.”

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While Mayor Alvarez is talking about elevated HOT lanes on I-95 and the PTP adding bus routes in the State of the County address, I was thinking in another direction: it’s time to make our Metrorail stations more accessible and pedestrian-oriented. This is of primary concern for stations along US-1, which serves as a barrier to anyone trying to use Metrorail from the south side of Dixie Highway.

Take, for example, the Coconut Grove station. It should serve as one of the most important transit gateways in Miami-Dade County, but instead functions as an isolated entity. Countless times I have interacted with tourists at both ends of 27th avenue in the Grove, asking me where the Metrorail station is probably because a) it is effectively cut off from the neighborhood and b) there is little urban continuity between the station and Grand Avenue that is emblematic of a place where people walk and take transit. Check out the pictures below:

Besides having to wait at least two minutes for the light to change, the man crossing the street (in front of white truck turning left in this pic) had to dodge a car turning right-on-red from southbound 27th avenue, then step in front of this line of left turn traffic, and this is just to get to the median. Once he gets across the street, he is flanked by a very large gas station and chaotic stretch of merge-lane, followed by this.

The point is, better integration between Metrorail stations and adjacent streets and intersections is critical to the success of Metrorail, as well as realizing the pedestrian-oriented urban goals for Greater Miami. I guarantee there are people who would otherwise ride Metrorail but are turned off by either the prospect of crossing US-1 or the auto-centric environment of streets leading to the stations.

Alright, I couldn’t allow such a monumental city resolution to pass by unnoticed any longer. The city commissioners of Hialeah should be commended (yeah, I never thought I’d say that either) for their recent decision to reurbanize and re-zone five key districts, incorporating denser mixed-use development while keeping in line with better urban design principles. The plan calls for the establishment of five key business districts which would require mixed-use buildings (commercial on the ground floor with residential above) in higher density format and up to 7 stories in height. I have not been able to dig up any more information on the plan to find out if greenspace, parking, transit, sidewalks, building heights, etc. will be incorporated into the plan. The city website (mainly in Spanish) hasn’t been updated since September 2006 and the Herald article digressed to cover some of the more amusing aspects of politics in Hialeah:

Business owner Robert Morell called for Spanish-speaking residents to learn English — and was booed by the crowd.

”I am a little bit appalled because if you travel to any other city it looks like they’re going into the future. Some of us still want to live in the past,” Morell said. “I speak Spanish, even though my whole family is American. I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t learn the [English] language.”

Tomas Martinez, a regular at council meetings, where he addresses members in Spanish, approached Morell as he left the podium and an argument ensued.

As the men stared each other down, Robaina and City Council President Esteban ”Steve” Bovo threatened ejection from the meeting or arrest for anyone causing a major disturbance.

Ignoring Morell’s suggestion, resident Randy Carter said he would address the council in Spanish.

”I am going to speak in Spanish because when you do your political campaigns you do them in Spanish,” Carter told council members in Spanish.

Members of the audience laughed and applauded.

Despite the fact that this plan is perhaps the best thing that could happen to the zonal mess of Hialeah (this city must have invented spot zoning and strip malls while completely ignoring any sane citywide development plan,) many residents attended the meeting last week to protest the decision:

Some residents said they feared being displaced from their trailer homes or that historic landmarks would be dwarfed by seven-story buildings.

I find it amusing that the largely Cuban audience (who typically spends time lamenting over how great a city Havana was) would try to defeat a plan which could potentially bring some of Old Havana’s urban planning charm (by charm I clearly mean the old Spanish, walkable, non-autocentric, dense, ground floor commercial with residences above, covered walkways, etc.) to the city of Hialeah… Like the photo above/below, minus the decay of the past sixty years…

The Sun-Sentinel published a rather ho hum article today concerning the possible use of the FEC corridor for local commuter rail traffic. Basically restating everything we already knew about the study being conducted to alleviate traffic on I-95, local developers paving over our way of life, Henry Flagler and the oranges, blah, blah, blah, the whole nine yards… The article confirmed my recent estimates placing the start of construction on a best possible scenario at 2015 (oddly enough the same year Baylink will be reconsidered for funding by the MPO.) As usual, the comments on the Sun-Sentinel’s site proved to be an everlasting source of entertainment for me. Here is one of the more ridiculous replies which just about sums up why we need to focus on changing mentalities around here first…

Here are some of Bob from Boca’s deep and well thought out ideas:

Finally, my first reaction:

Yep, I wanna give up my Lexus to ride with the vermin of the world.

Let me take my lovely family and sit among people from nations where personal hygeine is a dark mystery associated with the like of the full moon and witch-craft. Oh sorry, did I say other nation? I meant Hialeah.

Let’s have a “chat” with the hip-hoppers who can’t say 3 words straight without an F-Bomb, or the others who can’t say 3 words in English.

Even better, I want to give up the luxury of personal transportation in order to roll in the filth left by the previous passengers. Gum stuck in chairs, overflowing toilets (if they even bothered to enter) and the associated residue of society all stuck to my seat, and now my pants all at one time.

Snob? Perhaps…Dude, I’ll simply say it’s not technology that kills public transporation. It’s the public.

American’s golden days passed when manners and social grace were put aside in favor of personal gratification and the current selfish, boorish behavior that seems to be a norm among so many.

So yeah, raise our taxes even higher and strangle our economy to death. Chase out and destroy the middle class and build the train. We’ll have extremely wealthy and those so poor they are tax exempt. At least the latter will have a train. All they need is a reason to use it. What are the chances that will be for work?

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  1. Well, I don’t know if anyone has noticed or not, but, I’ve gone about the arduous task of importing all of the previous blog entries (one by one due to blogger’s lack of an import feature…) This process is going rather slow, but, the archives should be back up within the next few weeks…
  2. Also, you may wish to update your links; seeing that Transit Miami is now fully accessible through www.TransitMiami.com. Yeah, I cut the blogspot back out of the domain again. However, you may notice (IE users) that you can’t access the page by typing in just http://transitmiami.com (minor glitch I’m working to fix) unless you are using firefox which will add the www in for you…
  3. E-mail service will be returning soon, once I resolve an issue behind the fact that Ryan’s Posts do not get sent out via e-mail for some odd blogger reason or another…
  4. The sidebar has been updated with new links, Transit websites, Blogs, Feeds, and a new headline bar bringing the latest news from the Planetizen Page…

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Miami-Dade Transit Honors Rosa Parks for Black History Month:

“A permanent memorial to Rosa Parks will be on display above a designated seat behind the bus driver’s position, to honor Park’s refusal to give up her seat to another person. The decal reads, “Seat dedicated in honor of Rosa Parks” and is written in three languages.”

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In posts from long ago, Gabe had mentioned the “ghost station” that can be seen looking west from the southbound platform at Government Center Station. This station platform was built long ago to serve inbound trains from the west, that is, before the original east-west line was canceled as a result of ridership numbers that did not meet illusory ridership estimates.

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