Currently viewing the tag: "836"

Turnout at MDX’s highway open house last Thursday night was generally healthy.

I’d estimate a solid 80-100 people came through the doors of the West Kendall Baptist Church, eager to learn more about the big new highway project MDX is seeking to sell them on. (I didn’t stick around for the whole three hour event, so my count is unofficial at best. Let’s hope the numbers were more around 150-200 people.)

Turnout to MDX's first public "open house" on its desire to create a vast new section of the 836 highway through far southwest Miami-Dade was healthy. More public opposition will be needed to stop this monstrosity from coming to life.

Turnout to MDX’s first public “open house” on the 836 expansion project was healthy. More public opposition will be needed to stop this monstrosity from coming to life.

The layout of the public meeting was informal, and MDX should be commended for conducting the event in a way that maximized the people’s interaction with project staff: Good job on facilitating some community face-time, MDX — sincerely.

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MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

Four loosely-grouped information stations were set-up.

  • Station 1: “Purpose & Need”
  • Station 2: “Process & Schedule”
  • Station 3: “Natural Environment”
  • Station 4: “Physical & Socio-cultural Environment
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MDX presented a lot of interesting maps to suggest that a comprehensive socio-environmental, socio-economic, and socio-cultural evaluation of the project would be undertaken.

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Is MDX really looking at ways to leverage and improve public transit in the area? With all the existing (and planned) park and ride bus stations in the study area, why not study a true bus rapid transit (BRT) system for the county?

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All of MDX’s highway alternatives run through the west wellfield area, one of the sites from which Miamians extract their water from the aquifer below. It’s the source of our drinking water.

Each station had two or three MDX staff members (or staff from one of MDX’s contracted consultant firms, e.g., Stantec) on-hand to solicit residents’ thoughts and provide (typically diversionary) responses to their questions.

Staff were generally friendly. All good salespeople are.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plan to the  inquiring public.

MDX staff attempt to sell their plans to the inquiring public.

My underlying concern is that when I asked even the simplest of questions, or when my questions were apparently perceived as not ‘softball’ enough, I persistently got some variant of the following response: “Oh, this project is just in the planning stage. It’s way too early to be making those considerations.”

A couple of basic questions to which I received no real response.

  • Considering all alternatives, from the least to the most expansive, what is MDX estimating the costs of this highway expansion to be?
  • Considering all alternatives, how much does MDX consider the total cost of the tolls to be from the southwest to downtown Miami?

Any response that wasn’t overly deflective still didn’t register as sufficient justification for a new highway. For example:

  • Me: If the underlying problem is that nearly all of Miami’s suburbanites commute from the west to the east, why would people want to lengthen their commute by driving farther west, just to ultimately go east again?
  • MDX (paraphrased): Well . . . some people already go west onto Krome [SW 177th] Avenue to go back east again.
  • Me: Yes, a handful do, but Krome Avenue is currently set to be widened by FDOT, and that will accommodate the relatively few who do.
  • MDX (paraphrased): Yes, that’s true; Krome is to be widened; but we need to look into whether widening Krome will be enough.
  • Me: . . . 

MDX was clearly more concerned with selling its message than informing the people of that highway’s impact on their quality of life.

That message is clear: “Miami: You need another highway at the far edge of the city, either along, or somewhere beyond, the Urban Development Boundary.”

While MDX staff weren’t eager to give out any information that could jeopardize their chances of advancing their highway “dream”, they were eager to give out free Sunpass receptors (electronic toll collection devices). The way MDX sees it, we’ll be needing them.

MDX is eager to distribute as many free Sunpass electronic toll collection devices as possible. For MDX, more tolls = more highway expansion = more need to exist.

MDX is eager to distribute as many free Sunpasses. For MDX, more tolls = more highway expansion = more need to exist.

Many attendees, myself included, made their opposition to the project known via the comment cards distributed by the agency.

More public commentary will be needed to stop MDX from realizing its highway dream.

More public commentary will be needed to stop MDX from realizing its highway dream.

More public commentary will be needed to stop MDX from realizing its highway dream.

Be sure to have your voice heard while the project is still in the study stage.

Still, more voices will be needed to stop MDX from moving forward with its plans to build more highways in Miami, further constraining our city’s ability to liberate itself from its dependence on automobiles.

In the blinding brightness of the east-facing morning, trapped in our metallic boxes of rage, impatience, and anxiety, the truth called out to us . . .

It called, not as an answer, but as a question . . . a question whose simplicity made a mockery of all those willing to confront it . . .

Out of the blinding light, for that fleeting moment of honesty concealed by the shadows, the truth taunted all those brave enough to accept it . . .

From the blinding light, the truth dared us to regain our vision . . .

WHY DRIVE?

RIDE . . . METRORAIL

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As a person who traverses through this intersection more than I care to admit, I can say with confidence that the only good part of this project is to allow you to go West when traveling north on the 826. Why they had to supersize the entrances at Flagler Street (which will only create more problems with surrounding congestion) or change everything around is beyond me. Another BILLION down the drain.

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Despite having recently spent hundreds-of-millions of dollars to widen and extend the Dolphin Expressway, there is already a new effort to try and squeeze even more capacity on the perpetually congested highway. According to MDX, the eastbound shoulder between the 826 interchange and the NW 72nd Ave on-ramp is being converted into a new travel lane in a futile attempt to keep up with traffic demand. To account for the elimination of breakdown lanes, the speed limit will be permanently lowered to just 45 mph along this stretch. There goes another $800,000 in a desperate move to reduce congestion and justify millions spent on highway construction that will never do anything to fix Miami-Dade’s long-term mobility crisis.

Photo: Wikipedia

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miami traffic jam, originally uploaded by noway.

If the view above seems familiar, its probably because you’ve been sitting in traffic for 50 extra hours per year.

“Americans sat in traffic 4.2 billion hours, or 38 hours per driver, in 2005, up from 4 billion in 2004, according to the transportation research center at Texas A&M University.”

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Global:
  • Can’t believe we let this one pass under our radar for so long, but, the Caribbean’s second urban transit system is currently under construction in Santo Domingo. The 9 mile system will feature 16 stations, 10 of which will be subterranean. The system is set to open February 27, 2008 at a cost of nearly $700 Million…
  • The Eurostar set a new Paris-London record recently, completing the journey under the Chunnel in 2 hours and 3 minutes. The upgraded service is due to the completion of 68 miles of British high speed rail, stretching from the tunnel to the recently restored Victorian styled St. Pancras International Station.
National:
  • The Charlotte Light Rail system hasn’t even opened yet and it is already spurring Transit Oriented Development, 10 years ahead of planners’ forecasts. The development will offer 2,500 dwellings in mixed high density apartments, condominiums, and town homes will offer residents the ease of urban living just outside the city center.
  • How to curb LA’s growing parking problems? Eliminate parking requirements in new developments, of course. The best remedy to a downtown cores parking problem is to only make it more scarce.
  • The most accessible U.S. Airports. Notice how they are all linked to their respective cities by Public Transportation. Coincidence, we think not…
Local:
  • MDX to place Sunpass on Sale again. The transponders will be selling for $8.36 instead of their usual $25 price. Discounting a tolling device isn’t exactly the best way to reduce congestion, especially when the toll money is reinvested in highways rather than public transit…
  • Confusion on the 836
  • BoB has some exclusive pics of the Miami Skylift being placed in Downtown Miami…
  • DWNTWN Miami will do nothing to solve any of the tangible problems facing our downtown. Unlike most of the materialistic or cosmetic fixes people in this city tend to turn to, removing O’s and coming up with some catchy phrase will not solve Downtown’s woes. Can we get some real ideas now?

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A recent CBS4 “investigation” supports our claims that road expansion simply isn’t the solution to the traffic woes in our region. The report puts the new 836 west extension to the “test,” with two vehicles racing to a central meeting point on Bird Rd and SW 137th ave. The results were disappointing to those hoping that the extension would provide western suburbanites with a speedier alternative to the turnpike (you know, because of that exorbitant toll.) What the CBS4 report and many natives fail to understand is just how traffic, roadway expansions, and arterials interact with each other.

To simplify, think of traffic as a fluid (water) and roadways as pipes. The obvious is that when there is a clogged pipe (accident) no water can pass through. Easy enough, right? Now, many people assume that by creating a new path for the water (836 extension) water will be able to flow quickly along this new path. But, given the existing saturated nature of the current western routes (Tamiami Trail, Bird, Flagler, etc.) the new extension alleviates a certain amount of traffic from each corridor, providing no specific time difference impact to any single corridor. If too many cars choose to use the extension, then it too becomes saturated and proves to be just as ineffective as the alternate street routes. In then end, the whole system balances out and our overall personal gain is negligible. Plus don’t forget that any gains will be rendered useless once western expansion continues (you know, because of all that extra “capacity” we created) and more cars are found to fill in the gaps along each of the corridors… Good Luck!

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The new tolls on the 836 will be opening up soon (July 1) along with the new MDX 3 mile west extension of the highway. You can read all about it here. But, once again, the comments section of this article is where we’ll find some of the finest examples of the Miami Mentality:
“Nothing but a scam, to steal your money anyway they can. Things are just going to get worse and the traffic that will be backed up at that toll plaza in the morning will be a nightmare for the commuters. This county and it’s politcians who permitted this to go thru are nothing but a bunch of scoundrels, and thiefs. THIS COUNTY SUCKS !! I will definitely try to find a way around this toll and not pay them a single red cent. MDX = CROOKS” -A Commuter

“What ever happened to the extensions they were going to build down to kendall and homestead? We voted for the 1/2 penny tax, they took our money to build toll plazas in order to take more money from us! This is nothing new in Miami, they’re simple lining their pockets as usual.
Anyone that does not vote for the property tax cut in January will only continue feeding money to these crooks!” -Mike

“Your 1/2 penny tax is going to a stupid “Move it Yes you can!” public awareness campaign. How about giving us some toll relief instead? Or building the FIU metrorail route? We need to repeal that 1/2 penny tax now!” -Ollie

“What about the taxes we all pay hidden in every gal. of gas? Do the people know the goberment is selling every bridge, roads to China, Chavez and Arabes countries to any one with money. That’s why we have to pay tolls. e” -Pedro

It’s amazing to see how many people blatantly do not understand where the money from the 1/2 penny sales tax goes. MDX is a separate entity from MDT (which it shouldn’t be) and was operating a system of toll roads where only 28% of users were paying for 100% of the tolls. There were some comments calling for the expansion of metrorail, but with representatives like Zapata leading the Sweetwater community against those efforts as well, any reasonable plan to alleviate the problem seems impossible…

Blog Updates
  • For those of you who haven’t visited the site in a while due to the convenience of the automatic daily e-mails, you may not have noticed the addition of James Wilkins to the Transit Miami staff (more to come soon, too.) James will be primarily writing about architecture and Urban Design here on a weekly basis. His first post appeared on Monday and discussed what could/should be Miami’s most prominent waterfront structures at Museum Park. As always, if you have any news, stories, or general feedback for any of us three, please drop us an e-mail: movemiami@gmail.com…
  • The site will be temporarily out of commission for part of the weekend, sorry for any inconvenience which this may cause…
  • New Sidebar Miami Blogs: Hallandale Beach Blog, South Beach Hoosier
News
  • Broward Commissioners approved a new 8,000 ft. south runway for Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday night before a crowd of over 1,000 (mostly opponents) at the Convention Center. The new runway will allow FLL to meet expected demand over the next few decades and will provide the airport with another runway capable of handling most domestic aircraft. The $600 Million runway will likely require the purchase or soundproofing of 2,500 nearby residences and will be elevated over US-1, similar to Atlanta’s runway, pictured below…
  • Meanwhile, the state denied FPL’s most recent bid to build a “clean” coal power plant in Glades County. “…the company lost its bid to build the coal plant, in part, due to risks the facility would contribute to Everglades and other environmental pollution…” (Via CM)
  • If you build it, they will come…Now, can we just start doing it properly?
Miami Blog Updates
  • I’ve accidentally neglected TM’s Friend Rebbecca Carter of GreenerMiami for too long. Back in May she covered the Commuter Challenge, which this year featured two Mercy Hospital employees “racing” from SW 152 ST. The commuter who used the busway and metrorail won by 19 minutes! Here is her take on the I-95 HOT lanes too…
  • The 836 West extension opens next month and with that, more tolls! Rick says its best: “One More Reason Not To Live In Kendall…” but I find that hard to swallow coming from a Pembroke Pines Suburbanite… In any case, the West extension from the Turnpike to 137th Avenue will be available to SunPass users only…
Headlines From Around the World

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