Currently viewing the tag: "Metrorail"
Ryan is back once again to talk about government center. I’m actually headed downtown soon myself and will check out what he’s talking about firsthand. I’ll be back later today to cover the Miami Orange Bowl renovations, Miami River Dredging, and Density…


The other day I happened to be on the Government Center Metrorail Station platform when I noticed I was almost completely surrounded by parking. Good thing I had my camera with me – check out all the parking and keep in mind this is the supposed to be one of the densest parts of city as well as one of its’ most prominent public spaces. This is definitely not something you want to have anywhere in the city, especially abutting the downtown transit hub. This ruinous land use has the following effects:


• Fractures urban continuity in densest part of city; alienates the station from the rest of the city’s urban framework
• Takes the place of valuable real estate
• Induces demand for more driving in Miami’s downtown core; gives the impression that transit is an afterthought in this community, thus stigmatizing transit as the not-so-sexy stepchild to private automobile travel, even in the densest part of the city’s urban core
• Serves as a morbid public space in an otherwise strategic location


This puts into perspective the lunacy of adding more parking adjacent to Government Center Station. Doing so would effectively surround Miami’s primary downtown station on at least three sides by parking, as well as displacing the downtown bus terminal (which needs a public space makeover itself – not displacement.)

In my next post, I’ll illustrate and describe a good example of what Miami transit stations should aspire for regarding integration of quality public spaces – especially at Government Center Station.


I was idling in traffic earlier today, heading south on US-1 when I noticed something had gone amiss. The first thing that tipped me off was that a crowd had gathered at the South Miami metrorail station platform, waiting for a train heading northbound. As I inched south, crawling through traffic on my way to the snapper creek expressway, I happened to see three news helicopters swirling near the intersection of US-1 (pictured above) and Kendall Dr. Metrorail derailment suddenly came to mind, listening intently to the WLRN traffic report, which mentioned nothing of the mess.

It turns out my gut instinct was indeed correct. A metrorail train carrying about 50 passengers derailed as it departed the dadeland south station heading northbound. No serious damages or injuries were reported. This is the first time a metrorail train has derailed.

Click here for video…

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Alas, with the demise of the Bakery Center in South Miami over a decade ago, the then proposed Shops at Sunset Place were to serve as the urban catalyst for the city South Miami. Now, eight years after Sunset Place opened, we have been able to see the less than stellar transformation the neighborhood has experienced along with the generally lackluster performance of the new mall.


The Shops at Sunset Place was designed as a mall in transition. The sprawling suburban mall concept was just beginning to fade away from the American landscape while the “lifestyle center” concept had yet to fully take off. Having witnessed the failure of the Bakery Center, Simon Malls was careful to not retrace the same steps, but by the same token, was reluctant to fully pioneer a new urban and real “lifestyle center.” Unlike its predecessor, Sunset Place was designed to be an open-aired Mediterranean community, incorporating former mall aspects like big boxed anchor tenants with street-level restaurants, faux cityscapes, and even a few residential units. The center was originally envisioned to be an entertainment center, but the quick failure of some of the theme restaurants and IMAX Theater, quickly changed intended target use. Since its inception, the mall has struggled to maintain a strong and lasting business base. This can perhaps be attributed to its awkward design, as I said earlier, as a mall in transition: too few apartments, too big of a parking garage for an urban center, but too small for a mall, near isolation from the surrounding urban area, and a terrible incorporation into the South Miami neighborhood and nearby public transit.

The Shops at Wasted Space Sunset Place has served as a catalyst for South Miami: bringing the worst urban planning ideas to an area that was once brimming with potential. The area will soon become the biggest conglomeration of public parking facilities I’ve ever witnessed. I walk through this area nearly everyday, somehow avoiding every Benz and Beemer which comes careening through the area in search of parking and jarringly unconscious of any pedestrian laws which might exist. Despite the area’s proximity to public transit, I have never seen such obstinate disregard for incorporating the metrorail with the urban area.


Now, rising in the heart of the area are two developments which will continue the neighborhood’s transformation from urban center to urban disaster. The map above shows the existing public parking garage structures in the area (Red circles.) The first catastrophic development, highlighted by the yellow circle is the upcoming Plaza San Remo (Where’s the Plaza?) with over 100,000+ square feet of office space and a 65,000 square foot Whole Foods Market. The complex, which is being advertised as: “A first-class Medical & Professional Condominium where South Miami, Coral Gables, and Pinecrest Meet” is rising just east of the most uninviting pedestrian façade of Sunset Place. The inhospitable surroundings of the blank walls of Sunset Place, Wendy’s drive-thru, and near chaotic activity along Red Rd. will almost guarantee that this complex will only be accessible by vehicle, so don’t let the pretty red awnings fool you, they aren’t there for anything other than looks. Most disturbing though, Plaza San Remo will contain: “Generous covered parking for owners and visitors – five spaces per 1,000 feet.” A lot of good those 825 spaces will do the area when the local streets area already at or near capacity and the building is less than a quarter-mile from the nearest transit station…


Highlighted by the blue circle on the map and about one tenth of a mile away from the transit station is the upcoming catastrophic restaurant/public parking garage facility. The 435 parking spot garage will sit above 36,000 square feet of restaurants including a Carrabas, Outback Steakhouse, and a “sport themed” restaurant according to city documents (Note the public concerns: “He felt that key points about safety in the garage were addressed such as proper turning radiuses for cars…”) Give me a break! What about the fact that the area can’t handle another 435 patrons cars or that a parking garage isn’t exactly part of the urban design South Miami should be looking for for the city center, all the public cares about is whether they will be able to drive their Hummer or Navigator through without getting a scratch…It looks like the only wait for a table for two will be on the two lanes of 73rd St

The Green lines on the map indicate streets which contain on-street parallel parking spaces. The orange circles highlight the local existing surface parking lot facilities. Aside from parking and food themed retail, the urban center is lacking any sort of residential identity. The city and County have completely neglected the fact that transit was originally intended to be incorporated into the urban center, a fact which will soon be realized as the South Miami streets become choked by the very traffic they were originally intended to attract…

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The reoccurring theme lately has become centralized on the opinion of the public with regards to community projects. Community involvement opposition recently has driven many projects in directions that most city planners/urban developers would not necessarily agree with and Sweetwater is no exception. The architecture department at Florida International University has created a master plan to help transform Sweetwater from just another suburban residential enclave to a self sustainable college town that together with the university can continue to grow mutually to serve all area residents needs. Needless to say, the city opposes any change, especially change that could involve bringing the metrorail into their area.

Given the ridiculous opposition, one would assume that the FIU architecture department proposed to integrate mammoth sized buildings in the single family home neighborhood. However, the FIU plan would begin to slowly transform Sweetwater to better suit it and the college, by providing a sort of center where denser housing, government jobs, public services, and parks would be located. The growth would help to sustain the city tax base and would be a boon to the local residents by drastically improving the connection between the school and the city. It would also help minimize the impact of metrorail on the surroundings by creating a more densely urbanized area where the train would arrive.

The fact of the matter is that Miami residents seem very opposed to change. Understandably, most people do not trust the local government entities to make sound decisions on growth and development in the area given the track record of abuse by developers and city/county officials. I’m certain, however, that with the aide of the University’s school of Architecture, the city residents could work together with planners to lay a better foundation and identity for their city…

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I’ve shared my discontent on the people’s transportation plan (PTP) on more than one occasion on this site. I’ve also spoken of the nimby-like behavior of the grove residents who oppose any project which crosses their path but at the same time complain about a dearth of parking in their area. Today, I’ve decided to combine the two issues somewhat and present a set of alternative plans that I believe would benefit our community and would satisfy the delicate aesthetic needs of coconut grove residents. Below are three quick renderings I created (please pardon the terrible quality) of the region with possible public transit routes superimposed.


  1. This plan is the simplest, least intrusive, and cheapest alternative. The plan calls for the dismantling of the Omni loop of the people mover system in downtown once the Miami Streetcar becomes operational. I’m figuring that the omni loop will be rendered useless once the streetcar is completed seeing that they essentially cover the same part of the city. The salvageable tracks, vehicles, and station components can then be used to create a new Coconut Grove Loop People Mover system. The CG loop would be approximately 1.65 miles long, just slightly longer than the current 1.45 mile Omni Loop. The loop would be able to transport people quickly and effectively from the Coconut Grove Metrorail station along US-1 to the more pedestrian friendly areas of the grove, office buildings along South Bayshore Dr., City Hall, and the vast network of bay front parks. This option would be good for bringing people into the Grove from other parts of the county, but would not prove as useful for the majority of Grove residents. The plan also concentrates the public transit on the densest part of the grove and along the bustling 27th Ave. corridor.
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, City Hall at Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair


  1. This plan focuses more on a public transit system which would service the Coconut Grove community as the southern terminus for a North-South 27th Ave. Streetcar or LRT. The proposed system would be far more useful than the 9 mile northern extension which is currently planned and underway for Metrorail because it invites better urban growth to occur at the street level along the avenue. The Northern terminus for this transit line would be at Joe Robbie Stadium (Dolphin Stadium) and would travel through Opa Locka, West Little River, Brownsville, Little Havana, and Coconut Grove neighborhoods. It would provide two links to the Metrorail (CG and Brownsville.) This plan would allow for greater development to occur along the 27th Avenue corridor bringing some much needed density to the area. The much debated and contested Carlos Rua project at the Coconut Grove Metrorail station would be one such example of the type of development we would want to encourage (with less parking.) Transit Oriented Developments such as the Rua project are essential to make our transportation networks succeed. Situated along the primary N-S route in the city (US-1), a major avenue (27th Ave.), and our only form of public transportation, this project is hardly out of context with its surroundings and what we can expect of the region in years to come (Perhaps the height is excessive, but the density is of critical importance.)
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, Dinner Key, Dolphin Stadium, MDC Inter-American Campus, Opa Locka, Coral Way Corridor

  1. The last plan focuses on implementing a streetcar or LRT which would travel through Coconut Grove from the Brickell Metrorail station. This plan focuses its attention on the needs of the Coconut Grove area, bringing pedestrian traffic and growth to the areas which can support it best. It would also best serve the needs of the area residents in getting to their local town center which is already facing major parking issues. Traveling through South Bayshore Drive, the streetcar would service areas we designate as pedestrian friendly. It services the dense housing units in the area, waterfront offices, shopping areas, Hospital, and parks. A project like this would greatly benefit from further dense (not necessarily tall) growth to occur along the corridor (perhaps the Related Group’s Mercy project wouldn’t seem like such a far fetched idea.) The streetcar would service both east and west grove and create a center for the community (at Mayfair) which is easily accessible to most via the public transportation. Heading westward, the line could travel through the Village of Merrick Park before terminating at the Douglas Road Metrorail station.

Key Stops: Mercy Hospital, Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair, West Grove, Brickell Metrorail Station, Southern Brickell, Village at Merrick Park, Douglas Road Metrorail Station

I created this above analysis to show that there are a multitude of public transportation concepts which could be implemented in the Coconut Grove area which would not only serve the needs of the area residents but would benefit the entire community. Grove residents should open their minds to development which will enhance their community (I’m not saying to fully accept the Related Group, Home Depot, or Carlos Rua projects) but they need to take a different approach when considering the type of development that will occur in their area. Bringing density to their town center and major thoroughfares like 27th Ave, Grand Ave, and South Bayshore Dr. will keep the charm of the grove intact while also providing a support nucleus which will keep places like Mayfair up and running. This will help reduce the demand for area parking once we recreate a community which is even more navigable for pedestrians rather than vehicles.

As for the PTP, I can only say that we are headed in the wrong direction. Metrorail is an antiquated and extremely costly form of public transportation. We need to embrace a cheaper form of public transit in order to be able to compete with the handful of other US cities which are also vying for federal funding. At the same time, we need to create a system which will satisfy the needs of as many citizens as possible and provide the greatest amount of uses for the community and area re-development.

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