Our local public radio station, WLRN, published a fantastic, must-hear/must-see piece this morning on “How I-95 Shattered the World of Miami’s Early Overtown Residents”.
In it, reporter Nadege Green of WLRN / The Miami Herald makes some excellent inquiries into the glorious past that was once thriving Colored Town.
As narrated in the radio piece:
Overtown was known as the Harlem of the South. [Jazz legends] Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, and Billie Holiday performed in Miami Beach. But because of segregation, they weren’t allowed to stay there. They’d stay in Overtown . . . at hotels like the Sir John and the Mary Elizabeth. And they jammed late into the night with locals.
As decried by 70 year-old, long-time Overtown resident, General White:
Well there’s nothing but a big overpass now!
He’s referring to Interstates 95 and 395, which Nadege Green explains were built in the 1960s. After that:
Overtown was never the same. [Mr. General White] and thousands of other people here were forced out to make room for the highway.
Be sure to listen and read that eye-opening WLRN piece on the tragic history of the once glorious heart of Miami called Overtown, and the role of the highway in tearing it out.
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
Should it come as a surprise to us that the Florida stretch of I-95 is the most deadly stretch of interstate in the United States? As The Daily Beast reported a few days back, Florida is home to not only the deadliest stretch of highway along I-95, but also the third most deadly segment (I-4) and the 15th deadliest segment (I-75). With a total of 765 fatalities along the 382 mile corridor between 2004 and 2008, I-95 racks up 1.73 fatalities per mile. Not far behind, I-4 and I-75 report 1.58 and 1.14 fatalities per mile in the same period, respectively, according to data from the National Highway Safety Administration (an obvious misnomer given these sobering statistics).
FDOT’s I-95 Express Lanes were recently awarded the People’s Choice Award of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Read the release on the America’s Transportation Award site. Say what you want about the project, but the numbers are in and have shown a definite increase in speed on northbound I-95 where the High Occupancy Toll lanes were installed.
It’s not all about the automobile, either. Articulated express buses should be running on these lanes in January. According to the 95 Express website, the intent is to extend the existing Broward County Transit service running on 441/SR-7 to the Golden Glades interchange to reach downtown Miami. We’ll keep you posted on this new service.
- Go Tom! DCA Director Tom Pelham says that SB360 doesn’t apply to large metropolitan areas (like Miami):
According to Pelham’s interpretation, issued last week, SB 360 cannot override local governments’ home-rule authority, granted in state law. He cites this provision in the bill:
“The designation of a transportation concurrency exception area does not limit a local government’s home-rule power to adopt ordinances or impose fees.”
Pelham argues further that if cities and counties want to end the practice, they have to change their comprehensive growth plans, a process that takes months and numerous public hearings.
- High Speed Rail moves forward: “Unlike Orlando’s SunRail commuter-rail proposal, high-speed rail has no connection with the CSX railroad and no need to share tracks.”
- The Northbound I-95 Express lanes are not as popular as FDOT would like, while Broward toys with its own HOT lane plans.
- Miami-Dade is getting new hybrid buses with the help of the EPA.
If you are like me and a history buff or just love Miami, you should check out the Historical Museum of South Florida. Apart from hosting great exhibits and an annual Map Fair, as a member you get a subscription to Tequesta, the annual journal of the Historical Association of South Florida, edited by local history guru Dr. Paul George.
This year Teuqesta has a great article related to the history of I-95 and its blighting effect on Miami’s urban neighborhoods. I thought it was well timed considering the big moves the FDOT is trying to make with I-395. Seems like Overtown never gets a break from the blight that urban highways produce (at 30′ or at 150’!) This from Interstating Miami:
The mantra of progress provided a rationale for public actions such as expressway building and urban renewal, but the social consequences of such programs were dismissed by state and local officials as an unfortunate by-product of rebuilding and reform. (P. 23)
(video courtesy of the Miami Herald)
Reactions seem mixed, but mostly frustrated to date.
Might the frustration lead more to consider public transportation?
Let us know what you think, and if you have experienced the lights thus far.
The latest phase of the multimillion dollar attempts to mitigate congestion along I-95 goes into effect this week in the form of a ramp metering system. Needless to say, I am curious to see the result: Will drivers obey the lights, knowing full well that the local FHP is understaffed and underfunded? Will demand outpace supply and will cars back up into local roadways and intersections? Will we experience a decrease in VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and see a worthy reduction in congestion? Only time will tell…
Ramp metering is a form of restricting access to roadway. Signals located at the entrances to freeways dictate when cars can proceed. The timing for these signals, in a well designed ramp metering system, is based wholly on the existing congestion of the roadway. Ramp Metering seeks to mitigate the “turbulence” caused by vehicles entering highways – a significant cause of congestion as motorists accelerate and merge with existing traffic. Ramp meters regulate this access, creating a steady flow of vehicles rather than the platoons caused by signals leading into the current highway entrances – helping to avoid the dangerous shockwave phenomenon we discussed nearly a year ago.
While I generally speak favorably of ramp metering – I have a few concerns I feel the DOT should address. Foremost, it seems a bit counterintuitive to me to implement a congestion pricing (HOT Lane) program simultaneously with a ramp metering system that does not allow motorists to buy themselves out of the on-ramp wait time to begin with. The way I see it, if a motorist is willing to pay $X to drive in the HOT lanes to get from A to B faster, why would he want to wait to access the highway to begin with? For the whole scheme to work seamlessly, a second access lane should be provided to allow motorists to buy instant access to the highway. Call it Ramp Pricing.
Secondly, the current ramp meter placement, similar to the HOT lanes, punishes drivers in Miami-Dade (see above) while giving Broward drivers (suburban drivers who presumably have higher VMT) unfettered access to the whole system. At final build out, it seems theoretical that a driver from western Broward (who is willing to pay the congestion pricing fees, of course) could flow across I-595 and into I-95, guaranteed 55mph service the whole way (once the I-595 congestion pricing comes online as well). This is an obvious concern: we are in a sense providing easiest access to our urban areas to those who live the furthest away…
To read more on Ramp Metering, click here.
Last Wednesday, I had the chance to drive north along I-95 in Miami-Dade County where I snapped the pictures below of the then incomplete sections of 95 Express, the variable priced road pricing scheme program going into full effect by 2010. Little did I know that just 2 days later, FDOT would be “completing” the first segment of 95 Express and opening the lanes up to the public. Driving, I actually thought to myself “This should make for some interesting conversation on TM.” In fact, had I known this, I likely would have driven north to Palm Beach instead of taking tri-rail this past Friday.
95 Express’ opening day was a disaster. I will tell you why. This is the sort of outcome you should expect when our government blindly throws hundreds of millions of dollars at an unproven concept. Not congestion pricing. We are generally in favor of road pricing policies because of their effectiveness in reducing urban congestion and smog. I am concerned with the urban partnerships program. Essentially, this program threw $1 Billion dollars at five cities to “relieve congestion” in existing rights of ways while combining public transportation with road pricing. Or in the preferred government alliteration speak:
The Department sought applicants to aggressively use four complementary and synergistic strategies (referred to as the “4Ts”) to relieve urban congestion: Tolling, Transit, Telecommuting, and Technology.
Now, how a transportation project can go from conception to construction in just over 1-year’s time is beyond me, this process is sure to be riddled with problems. Note: In August 2007, the Secretary announced five final urban partners: Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
I predict that most Miami drivers will have no problem mowing down the delineated candlestick markers, just as they managed to do along Dolphin Mall Blvd (see below), or Kendall Dr. (Note: here they raised the delineated markers onto a concrete curb after they had been plowed a few times, encouraging most Hummer sedan drivers to stray away.)
This is likely an issue which we’ll be writing on frequently and is the subject of much controversy (especially now) in South Florida. Before I get to the transit aspect of 95 Express, let’s open this up for some conversation…
“I’m disappointed after spending so much time with the administration,” Mr. Sarnoff said, calling today’s face-off the “first time the administration has really challenged me like this.”
Mr. Sarnoff blamed the influence of mural lobbyists for city staffers’ apparent change of heart, saying outdoor advertising proponents have their “hooks deeply in the administration.”
It is unfortunate that the city of
- Pedestrians don’t belong on 1-95…
- Yet another person dies trying to bypass a Tri-Rail railroad crossing…
- Buy local produce! It’s a key part of creating a sustainable society, a great way to keep money in the local economy, and an effective measure to reduce pollution (less overseas and transcontinental shipments…)
- Get ready for strict water restrictions next year and pretty much every year after that. Anyone else think that perhaps the County should mandate the installation of water saving devices (such as technology which reuses sink greywater for toilet use) for all new construction?
- The return of Urban Parks. Finally!
- After they created the largest bike sharing network (note the absence of the popular word scheme, its a network, not a ploy) in the world and reintroduced streetcars to their urban landscape; Parisians are now getting ready to embrace electric car sharing service…
- Collapse of the housing market signals the end of suburban sprawl? James Howard Kunstler thinks so…
- Bike Boxes, what a novel concept to show drivers they aren’t the only ones on the road. Dual bike lanes and Bike Boxes in NYC are even more progressive…
“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.”
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org…
- 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
- 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?
- 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…
- India’s Richest Man builds 60 story home…You know, because you need a place to house your family of 6, plus a full time staff of 600…
- PlanNYC 2030…I don’t think Miami has a plan for tomorrow, how can we even begin to contemplate where we’ll be 20 years down the line…
- District Should Welcome Walkers, Not Ticket Them…I agree, for the most part…
- Google Transit 2.0…
- Make Driving less Desirable and alternatives more appealing…”This approach, however, will be effective only if there are good alternatives to driving alone.”
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