Currently viewing the tag: "Congestion"

Multiple facets of our community are abuzz with transportation- and mobility-related talk.

We’ve got the Miami-Dade 2013 Transportation Summit scheduled for June 6 and the “Transit Talk” pre-summit summit a week in advance on May 29.

Now we’ve got yet another transportation-/mobility-related event scheduled for a week after the summit, on June 12. It seems the transportation debate in greater Miami is really heating up . . .

The Good Government Initiative (GGI) at the University of Miami is hosting a luncheon called “Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for 21st Century.

CanWeConquerCongestion_20130613

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

11:30am – registration | 12:00pm — lunch | 12:30pm — conversation

Northern Trust | 700 Brickell Avenue | Miami, Florida 33131

For your Average-José, there’s some good news and bad news. It’s always best to serve the bad news first:

Bad News: This is NOT a free event, which is something that would generally, under most circumstances, discourage me from posting here on TransitMiami. There’s an elaborate fee schedule for various types of groups:

  • $35 — Individual Ticket (standard/default)
  • $30 — GGI Member
  • $50 — GGI Contributor (Individual Ticket + $15 donation)
  • $500 — Sponsor Table for 10
  • $20 —  Student / Concerned Citizen

Good News: The Good Government Initiative has graciously agreed to offer readers of TransitMiami a special registration discount of $5, hence the reason it’s being posted. Thank you Good Government Initiative — sincerely!

That’s right! Just as you always hoped and knew it would, your TransitMiami readership is finally beginning to pay off! To get your crisp Abraham Lincoln knocked-off the registration price, be sure to enter the following promo code into the electronic form when registering as a “Student / Concerned Citizen” ($20): TRANSITMIAMI .

After the $5 discount, that $15 bucks will cover your lunch (hey, lunch!) and presence at the discussion. Note: the actual level of participation permitted by the public in this “discussion” is to yet to be determined/witnessed. . . . Read on for the justification of my admittedly skeptical disposition . . .

The more ambiguous news — toward which you should be correspondingly ambivalent — is that an event titled “Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for 21st Century” is featuring the Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), Mr. Javier Rodriguez, as one of its main speakers (?!).

Javier Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) Executive Director

Javier Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)
Executive Director

Let’s be clear here: TransitMiami has absolutely nothing against Mr. Rodriguez on a personal level.

Professionally, though, we do take issue with the agency whose reins he controls: MDX.

One need only look through the dozens of TM posts since 2007 revealing the obsessive toll-imposing and highway-constructing machinations of MDX to know how we feel about the agency.

Around here, MDX holds the un-honorably earned reputation of being one of the main progenitors of suburban sprawl and endless highway construction. It’s these forces that underlie congestion and diminish quality of life in our community. MDX is a tenacious antagonist of true urban mobility in the Miami of the 21st century.highway_knot_01

So, please understand that our dissemination of this event comes with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism, probably even an unfortunate hint of cynicism too.

On the other hand, though, there’s also going to be representation by some organizations whose missions and and on-the-ground operations actually reflect the pursuit of our community’s well-being.

Other speakers include the likes of former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Ms. Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of The Good Government Initiative, as well as people like Ms. Anamarie Garces de Marcilla, Executive Director of Urban Health Solutions and current chair of the Consortium for  Healthier Miami-Dade’s Health & Built Environment Committee.

[***Full disclosure: this author serves on, and is a supporter of, that volunteer committee.***]

Other anticipated speakers include Mr. Joe Giulietti, Executive Director, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (the agency which manages Tri-Rail) and Mr. Mark Lesniak, Executive Director of Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association.

Trirail-Logo

So, if you have the time and the $15 bucks to spare for lunch where people will be talking about transportation and mobility, go for it! And don’t forget to tell them that TransitMiami sent you with that promo code.

Let’s just hope that after sharing all of these critical — but well-intentioned — sentiments, the kind folks from GGI still uphold their $5 discount to TransitMiami readers!  After years of your blood, sweat, and tears, TM readers, you definitely deserve it!

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Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?

Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:

“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”

So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.

I-395_Miami_Bridge4

I-395_Miami_Bridge3

I-395_Miami_Bridge2

I-395_Miami_Bridge

For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.

Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown. 

In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.

The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.

Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:

  • San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
  • Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct

While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.

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“There’s a Car2Go fever going around right now. Those of us who are already members are raving about it; and those who aren’t yet members don’t want to be left out.”

The voice brimming with optimism about Miami’s newest, green transportation alternative is that of Rodrigo Galavis, co-owner of FilmMia, a local Motion Picture Production Management Company. Galavis and a colleague, Cigarra Expressions’ Arturo Perez, were recently opining at the inexorably with-it Panther Coffee about the brand new car-sharing company called Car2Go. Coincidentally, the two had just arrived in one of Car2Go’s very vehicles, and took but a nanosecond for both to show how ga-ga they’d become over benefits of car-sharing.

For the uninitiated, Car2Go is Miami’s latest mobility alternative: a car-sharing service that affords its members all the comforts and conveniences of vehicle ownership without the hassles, costs, or burdensome search for parking. At just $0.38/minute, Car2Go members have access to 240 blue and white SMART cars which are conveniently scattered throughout the City of Miami. Through a partnership with the Miami Parking Authority, Car2Go drivers can end their one-way journeys in most non-restricted curb side parking spaces, any Residential Parking Restricted Neighborhoods and all parking meter/paystation locations without having to pay in the City of Miami.

Car2Go - Via Miami Parking Authority

Car2Go – Via Miami Parking Authority

“…it’s an easy and affordable way to get you from point A to B,” noted Galavis.

“It’s also a great and efficient alternative between taking the train/bus or a taxi,” adds Perez.

Of course it takes more than a couple early adopters and an accommodating company to prove that a concept’s time has come; it also takes a certain wherewithal, and the capacity to deliver on what’s promised. To twist Gertrude Stein’s infamous precept, there needs to be a there there, and therein lies C2G’s genius.

Car2Go’s sudden appearance in Miami isn’t a coincidence. A number of factors have made car-sharing viable including the recent urban renaissance, the rising costs of car ownership and maintenance, increased congestion, and the economic recession. Together, these factors create an environment favorable to car-sharing programs that provide car-free residents with the freedom they seek in our otherwise autocentric cities.

Unlike other car-sharing programs (See: Zipcar or RelayRides), Car2Go’s one-size fits most approach gets down to the basics: providing simple, efficient vehicles to enhance mobility.  A big difference between Car2Go and its competitors is the ability to use the vehicles for one-way journeys.

For a limited time, the company is waiving the initial $35 registration fee (promo code “HEAT”). Once registered, you’ll find that getting in and going about is as easy as operating an ATM. There’s no gas to buy (though an on board gas card is available should it be needed), and, because of C2G’s deal with the Miami Parking Authority, parking is included as well within the home base, an area that stretches from the Grove to 79th Street, the Bay to beyond the Marlins Stadium.

In a city where parking is at a premium, traffic is notoriously snarled, a woeful transit network, and taxis are too often hard to come by, Car2Go is a cinch. With the added myriad costs associated with car ownership the argument is over — the clear winner is Car2Go.

The Texas Transportation Institute just released its annual study on National Traffic Congestion – and surprise! congestion is on the rise across the country, and especially here in Miami. Miami ranked 7th in the top 15 cities for longest travel delay and congestion cost (under cities like Chicago and New York).

Important to note in the rankings is the definition of congestion cost, calculated as, 

Value of travel delay for 2009 (estimated at $16.01 per hour of person travel and $105.67 per hour of truck time) and excess fuel consumption (estimated using state average cost per gallon).

Other notable factoids include:

- highest transit usage occurred in 2008, but 2009 transit ridership remains historically high (due to the bus service expansion following the PTP)

-Congestion cost in Miami-Dade County $3.2 billion dollars in 2009 – at an average cost of $892/car.

Unfortunately, the calculations tend to fall apart when comparing Public Transportation numbers and the benefits derived from continued service. According to the data, public transportation accounts for a reduction of $217 million in congestion costs. The problem with this number is that it’s derived from calculating transit trips and their value. The report compares vehicle miles traveled for cars and places these on equal footing with unlinked public transit trips - a calculation that ignores the benefits of compact urbanism (ie. downtown). One public transit trip equals more than one car trip because the areas around transit nodes contain more density and intensity of activity that one need not take multiple trips for different activities.

In spite of this misleadingly low number, we can still see that congestion has a hidden cost on our economy that we pay for indirectly and that our limited transit network (here in Miami) provides a tangible benefit in reducing these costs.  This should be signal to our elected officials that transit has an economic value, and pulls its weight, in spite of the fact that farebox revenues do not pay for the operation of the system. We end up paying for the lack of transit in other ways – car maintenance/insurance/gas, tolls, environmental and social costs, not to mention lost productivity.

The report did have one shining jewel of advice when considering how these numbers should be used by officials in considering transportation projects and their impact on congestion:

Consider the scope of improvement options. Any improvement project in a corridor within most of the regions will only have a modest effect on the regional congestion level. (To have an effect on areawide congestion, there must be significant change in the system or service).

Well said. Transportation planners in Miami-DadeCounty have to stop thinking about ‘congestion’ as a problem that can be fixed with operational gimmicks and highway expansion. Congestion is going to exist with or without projects like MDX’s South Dade lexus lanes. What we need to do is provide people with an expanded array of transportation options that will give them an alternative to congestion. Projects that try to ‘ease’ congestion will only serve to benefit a small number of users, as in the case of the US1 managed lanes; wealthy residents of South Dade will benefit, but the rest of the working class and poor residents of South Dade will continue to use the service that remains on the Busway, or have no other choice than to sit in congestion and wait. Doesn’t sound like an equitable or efficient use of the public righ-of-way to me.

The FDOT (The Department of Streets and Highways) is seeking approval of transportation planners in Broward and Palm Beach Counties to approve five-year plans for road and “transit” projects. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

“A total of $2.37 billion will be spent in Broward County and $916 million in Palm Beach Countyfrom 2012 through 2016.”

Wow, pretty cool, eh? With over $3 Billion in spending we’ll surely be zipping along the FEC corridor from Miami to Jupiter in no time. Perhaps we’ll be able to ride the Ft. Lauderdale Wave Streetcar from my downtown office to the Broward General Medical Center. Heck, maybe we’ll be commuting on some new flashy BRT routes throughout both counties. Nope. This is FDOT we’re talking about – there is only one right way to blow $3.3 Billion.

“Major highway projects in Broward and Palm Beach counties are moving from the top of wish lists to reality.”

Oh Joy! Christmas has come early!

“State officials are including money in the latest plan to build an interchange for FAU’s new stadium in Boca Raton, widen State Road 7 in southern Broward County and expand the last two-lane section of Andrews Avenue in Pompano Beach.

It’s a dramatic turnaround from two years ago when the state had to delay numerous projects because of a decline in gas tax revenues and other resources. The state couldn’t keep up with the rising cost of land and materials to build roads.”

That’s right, we need more interchanges and lanes. Silly me. How could I forget how effective incessantly widening highways to meet ever growing congestion needs has been? For all their faults, the FDOT will be investing some money in Transit. Just what exactly? I’m so glad you asked:

“The county will study improving mass transit on its busiest routes — Broward Boulevard, Oakland Park Boulevard, State Road 7 and U.S. 1. The improvements could range from pull-outs so buses don’t hold up traffic to special equipment that allows buses to pre-empt traffic signals so they stay green longer so they can get through intersections.

Another study will look at improving State Road 7 from northern Broward into southern Palm Beach County, by improving mass transit and adding lanes.”

Wouldn’t want those buses to get in the way of all those cars now would we? Now, let’s get this straight. FDOT suddenly has $3.3B more to spend between 2012 and 2016 in Broward and Palm Beach. So the logical solution is to pump the money into projects already underway? And, for safe measure, to cover their asses and pretend to be serving the best interest of all transit modes, they decided to invest a pittance into transit studies?

“The new projects are in addition to work that already is started or will begin next year, such as the extension of the I-95 express lanes to Fort Lauderdale that will begin next year, the I-595 construction and I-95 widening in northern Palm Beach Countyunderway and construction of a new Eller Drive overpass connecting I-595 to Port Everglades that will start in 2011.”

I know what you’re all thinking. C’mon, 95 Express – dude its a transit project, kinda – we’re getting buses to use those routes and whisk passengers across highways to their destinations quickly and effectively. After all, one of the main selling points of the 95 Express HOT Lanes was the ability for transit buses to access the tolled lanes free of charge, providing transit riders with a cheap alternative to driving alone and simultaneously improving the commute time of “regional” service buses. In theory this plan works. In theory. But we lack the sufficient density to make BRT along our highways effective; and, congestion hasn’t reached the point to justify the time it would take users to park-and-ride.  Plus, BCT and MDT lack the funds to keep these buses operating:

“The Broward County Commission will hold a public hearing at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December  14, 2010, at the Broward County Governmental Center, Room 422, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, for public input on proposed changes to the 95 Express Bus Service.  The proposed changes would become effective on Monday, January 10, 2011.”

The proposed service changes are:

  • Discontinued service to the Golden Glades Park & Ride stop
  • Discontinued reverse commute trips from Miami during the morning peak hours
  • Discontinued reverse commute trips from Pembroke Pines during the afternoon peak hours

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Via: Reconnecting America:

Next time you’re stuck going 20 mph in the fast lane, waiting forever to get through a traffic light, or trying to find your way out of a giant concrete parking structure, remember that it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for America to rediscover the human scale. It’s time to build communities for people, not cars.

“There is no such thing as a natural level of car use. The number of cars used in the city is a political decision. Traffic problems don’t come from more cars, they come from more roads…”

-Former Mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa

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98% of Americans are in favor of expanded public transportation.  Yes, there is a catch.  This is what the study released today by the APTA concluded:

A study released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association reveals that 98 percent of Americans support the use of mass transit by others.

Now, that is a scary statistic.  With hordes of environmental and financial problems looming over the US economy (chiefly the result of our unappeasable appetites for oil), one would assume that our citizens would become better acquainted with more sustainable lifestyles.  This national mentality falls in line with some situations we’ve addressed here on TM; evidenced by the opposition against bringing commuter rail service to the CSX corridor because it would “hamper the commutes of motorists traveling along several east-west corridors.”

Of the study’s 5,200 participants, 44 percent cited faster commutes as the primary reason to expand public transportation, followed closely by shorter lines at the gas station. Environmental and energy concerns ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news America, but this is not how transportation works:

Anaheim, CA, resident Lance Holland, who drives 80 miles a day to his job in downtown Los Angeles, was among the proponents of public transit.

“Expanding mass transit isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity,” Holland said. “My drive to work is unbelievable. I spend more than two hours stuck in 12 lanes of traffic. It’s about time somebody did something to get some of these other cars off the road.”

You will notice that equally important in our quest of reshaping the American Landscape (and mentality) is to create a better understanding of our land use policies.

Recommended Reading:

  • With Gas Over $4, Cities Explore Whether It’s Smart to Be Dense (WSJ)

Does anyone even care anymore? With all this talk about global warming, alternative fuels, and the trimming of every government budget due to major financial cutbacks, you’d think the community would be up at arms about an approval to build even yet more development on our western fringes. Ecosystem destruction? Check. Vehicular-oriented development? Check. Massive unnecessary infrastructural strains on the County? Check. This approval falls in line with every single reason why living in South Florida has become extraordinarily difficult for the average middle-income family.

I’ll tell you this much, I’m fed up and Transit Miami is going to do something about it.

For those of you who are still out in the dark, the County Commission moved the UDB boundary again last week in order to accommodate some projects in the name of the community saving special interests. Disgustingly, the 9-4 super majority vote is enough to override the impending veto by Mayor Carlos Alvarez. In doing so, our incredibly intelligent elected officials have defied the opinion of local planning experts (not just us), most County residents, and State growth management officials.

But the county commission overlooked those pleadings Thursday when it approved two controversial applications to build outside the UDB — one for an office complex, another for a home improvement center, which includes plans to build a new high school. The state, mayor and planning and zoning board’s pleas also were ignored.

Big box retail and absurdly placed office complexes (with plenty of parking), just what nature called for along the edge of our shrinking everglades ecosystem. 600,000 square feet of office space in a river of grass would equate to something like this:

Miami Everglades UDB Expansion

The county planner said construction outside the UDB isn’t necessary because there is enough space available inside the boundary for several decades.

Sorenson stopped her colleagues before the final vote, warning of a long fight in the courts if the state finds the county didn’t comply with growth management law. Addressing Assistant County Attorney Joni Armstrong Coffey, Sorenson asked what would happen if the county was not in compliance with state growth laws.

”We will be in litigation,” Coffey said.

Where is Norman Braman when you really need him?

Let the lawsuit begin (Note: yet another strain on the public financial capacity…)

Today’s Pic o’ the Day illustrates what happens when parking requirements and density combine to create disastrous combinations. This city illustrates some finer urban elements in the CBD but as of late has sprawled out beyond control. Can anyone name the city or the suburb?

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If you’ve ever been driving along the highway and suddenly everything comes to a dead stop or a slow down for no apparent reason you’ve been caught up in a shockwave traffic jam. The Mathematical Society of Traffic Flow in Japan has created this video to illustrate the shockwave phenomenon. In Miami, you’ll typically find yourself in one of these heading on US-1 southbound just after I-95 (a spot where you should likely be riding metrorail instead…)

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Tri-Rail Commuter Train, originally uploaded by jmdspk.
Due to the volume of e-mails, I know when we are running behind on a given topic (sorry!) but hey, you can always count on us to cover every transit/development related story sometime within the given week.

This week’s topic is how FDOT, like every other DOT across the country (I guess the Feds set the precedent here), is trying to raid the public transit funds for more road expansion projects in the Greater Miami Area (get used to it folks, we don’t fly with the “South Florida” nomenclature around here.)

On one end is the Florida Department of Transportation, or DOT, trying to keep money it uses to build and improve state roads. At the other is Tri-Rail, struggling to find money to fund the commuter train’s operations and pay for new projects.

Let us analyze this statement briefly. The Florida Department of TRANSPORTATION (not too aptly named, eh?) is trying to raid the nation’s fastest growing public transportation system (tri-rail) of hundreds of Millions of Dollars over the next 5 years for various road widening schemes? Jeff Koons of the Palm Beach MPO and Tri-Rail governing board has the right idea:
“I wish we had more dollars, but by [giving Tri-Rail] the $2, I hope they realize this is a crisis,” he said. “The state needs to take a look at adding some funding sources for regional mass transit.”
Without this dedicated funding source, Tri-Rail, like all of the sprawl inducing road projects, would be dead in the water. The Agency would have until October to come up with $17 million or else shut down in the midst of 2 years of solid growth, capacity expansion, and recent train dispatch control.
If Tri-Rail doesn’t get a dedicated funding source and if the three counties cut their funding next year as expected, Tri-Rail officials say they’ll have to drastically reduce service. Under that scenario, Tri-Rail could default on a $334 million federal grant used to construct a second track because the money was awarded based on the agency’s pledge to operate at least 48 trains a day weekdays.

The troubling aspect of this issue is not only how we continue to heavily subsidize our roadways at an uncontrollable rate, but that our state transportation agency is attempting to financially dismantle our commuter rail system in order to expand congestion. The State continues to battle itself, by working on projects that contradict themselves: Tri-Rail, Road expansion, HOT Lanes, etc. The FDOT epitomizes a transportation agency and policy that is anything but; eager to shift resources away from reasonable solutions and further legitimizing the misconceptions often encouraged by people like Gregg Fields:

But is it streetcars we desire? The mass transit message is decidedly mixed. One day earlier this month, Tri-Rail celebrated ridership hitting a whopping 15,000. There are Burger Kings with more traffic at their drive-thru windows — and they serve food.

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This picture illustrates the typical lane designations busways receive across the world. The vast majority of busways, bus lanes, and BRT lanes are dedicated solely for Bus and emergency vehicle use (ie. no private vehicles.) This bus lane in Jakarta demonstrates how bus only lanes should be implemented in urban areas…

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This week’s Streetwise Column by Herald Reporter Larry Lebowitz, presented an “innovative” new use for Miami-Dade’s Busway program. We’ve taken some time to mull over the basics of the plan over the past few days (apparently so have a number of you based on the number of emails I received) and have prepared an analysis of the project based on the data Larry provided in the article.

Imagine widening the Busway from two lanes to four and giving buses and carpoolers with at least three passengers a free ride.

It is a stretch of my imagination, that is for sure, but from the looks of it, this does not seem like a promising solution for South-Dade commuters. Granted, the Busway is far from perfect, but adding lanes, albeit managed lanes, is hardly the solution to an ever-growing congestion problem.

Instead of encountering dozens of incredibly looooooong lights at the busy cross streets on today’s Busway, imagine flying over all the major intersections as the government guarantees a reliable 50-mph journey from Dadeland to Florida City or the turnpike interchange near Southwest 112th Avenue.

The sad part about this is that some sort of “benefit” has to be presented for motorists in order to shore up the funds to marginally improve the transit infrastructure. I guess that is one of the major issues we have to deal with when we have a President who in his next financial deficit (that is not a budget) wants to reduce an already anemic transportation fund by $3.2 billion. One major question remains: What is going to happen to all of those cars not going to Dadeland or the Palmetto when they merge back onto a US-1? We cannot honestly expect all these folks to suddenly abandon their cars and hop on Metrorail, can we? Or will the lanes be extended north into downtown, continuing to undermine the reason why Metrorail was constructed along US-1 to begin with – to get people out of their cars.

A similar variably priced tolling plan is about to be introduced on a 24-mile segment of Interstate 95 between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. They are also planned for the expanded Interstate 595 in Broward.

True. However, I do not think drawing comparisons between US-1 and limited access highways is fair. HOT lanes are a novel concept for the highway scenario, but not along a corridor where driveways and intersections all interfere.

Not only could it provide a little relief to the normal wall-to-wall madness on the overburdened South Dixie corridor, but it could also finally fulfill the Busway’s original promise: real rapid transit.

Once again, see our unrelated qualms above on transportation spending as a whole in this country. It’s deplorable!

”Without a strong transit component, this doesn’t work,” said Javier Rodriguez, executive director of the expressway authority.

Amen!

Elevated intersections will incite plenty of sturm und drang from communities along the Busway. The neighbors must be mollified, especially if Transit is forced to relocate its stations away from the intersections to maintain easy street-level access for riders.

Wow, you can say that again. Most of these communities have already reduced the allowable density along US-1 making Mr. Rodriguez’s point listed above extremely difficult to accomplish. Transit needs to treat any further upgrades to this project as a rail project, bringing with that the power to enact land-use changes for the corridor that will continue to prepare it for future rail transit, increase bus ridership, and lay a foundation for preventing future westward and southern sprawl. Without a massive overhaul of the land around the Busway, this corridor will never realize the transit ridership necessary to fund such a project.

Besides noise walls and landscaping, some must-dos:

Whoa, noise walls are a definite must-do-not. This project needs to entwine the Busway (future railway) as much as possible with the surroundings, not create an inhospitable environment for those walking, biking, or using transit.


All plans must leave a pocket for future light rail or Metrorail within the 100-foot corridor as the Busway was originally intended. It might take 30 to 50 years to get trains there, but that’s what the people were promised and the bulk of the growth is already occurring down there.

Definitely! Can’t stress this point enough.


The plan must set aside money to re-time all of the signals for cross-street traffic trying to get onto and across U.S. 1 under the elevated intersections.

This is something MDT/MPO should do now to give the 15,000 daily transit riders a surefire benefit to riding the Busway. Which reminds me, what exactly is MDT up to these days?

An expanded Busway must mesh with the community charettes aimed at future redevelopment of Princeton, Naranja and Goulds into transit-oriented development villages.

Ditto for preserving the existing bike path and enhancing pedestrian access to and from the Busway.

Once again, we cannot stress how important this is. These details will ultimately make or break a project like this. Take Metrorail for example, it is a great transit system but the surroundings are beyond lousy.

The point of this article was not to criticize Streewise or Larry Lebowitz – after all he’s just the messenger – but rather to condemn a plan which is seemingly being hailed as the golden ticket for fixing congestion. The fact of the matter is, for any real change to come of any of these plans (Metrorail, Bay Link, Miami Streetcar, Busway included) we need to push for land use changes more favorable to living lifestyles which are not automatically governed by the necessity of owning a vehicle.

Ah, the 1950′s, a time when the US economy was rebounding from the stresses of World War II and federal money was freely flowing every which way to rebuild a struggling economy. The most notable “achievement” which evolved from this hasty federal spending was the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (Dwight Eisenhower Interstate System) of 1956.

As this documentary illustrates well, the 1950′s was also a time for extreme naivety, clearly shown through the future independence personal vehicles will bring to our cities. The ideas range from absurd construction techniques (an atomic reactor which creates tunnels with extreme heat) to far more absurd “new dimensions for the American highway.”

If there is one statement where the show was actually spot on, I’d say it’s this one:

“The shape of our cities will change, as expanded highway transportation decentralizes our population centers into vast urban areas. With the advent of wider, faster expressways the commuter’s radius will be extended many miles”

You can say that again…

The official video description:

An excerpt from the 1958 “Disneyland” TV Show episode entitled “Magic Highway USA”. In this last part of the show, an exploration into possible future Transportation technologies is made. It’s hard to believe how little we’ve accomplished on this front since 1958, and how limited the scope for imagining such future technologies has become. Witness an artifact from a time where the future was greeted with optimism. Note the striking animation style here, achieved with fairly limited animation and spectacular layouts.

Today’s Metro Monday come to us from our loyal reader James Good.

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