Currently viewing the tag: "Miami-Dade County"

Well, the Miami-Dade County Commission did it again – they continued the mentality that rising fuel costs should amount to higher transit fares. As much as I would like to agree that transit fares were well below the point they should have been, I cannot justify anyone spending $100 for a monthly metropass.

Let us compare similar monthly passes across America:

Atlanta $52.50
Boston $59
Chicago $75
Dallas $50 or $80
LA $62 - $98
New York $81
Seattle $54-$108
Portland $76

Are we oblivious to what happens elsewhere around this country? Most cities have a zonal system of affixing prices to their tickets, charging more for longer distance trips. These long distance routes, service suburbia, places where transit really should not be servicing unless the area population density is well above 8 people/acre.

There is also the logical answer to the funding dilemma; charge drivers. Congestion pricing and parking pricing encourages greater transit ridership while reducing congestion (see London.) Those whose travel habits cost the greatest societal burden (drivers) pay the most for their services.

I could go on for hours on this subject (I assure you, I will) but the underlying message here is that we are continuing the flawed mentality regarding our automobile habits and transit funding.

Miami-Dade Commission Charmain Bruno Barreiro woke up this morning and decided that he wanted to see a permanent development boundary somewhere west of the UDB (and east of Naples). Matthew Pinzur writes about Barreiro’s big idea in the Herald. He wants to rethink the boundary so that there is a buffer between the Everglades and the UDB. What?? He wants to hire a consultant to decide where that line should be. Pinzur points out though that “Barreiro’s idea of hiring experts has been tried and ended up stymied by politics. Most recently, the county spent six years and $3 million on the South Miami-Dade Watershed Study, an attempt to protect water supplies that evolved into a complex 40-year plan for growth management.” You go Pinzur!

I took a stab at studying the Watershed Study expecting bad planning policy and a series of platitudes about parks and birds and butterfly’s being important. I was surprised to find an intelligent, well thought out document. The report describes that Dade County’s “two major policy choices for the future can be characterized as either a Sprawl Scenario or a Smart Growth Scenario. The long-term consequences of a sprawl scenario are enormous. This is the path that the County is on today. The Smart Growth choice will require the County to take some bold, but achievable, policy steps. The benefits of choosing a Smart Growth policy are substantiated by the Study and supported by the literature.” Sounds good, right? It gets better. The study makes policy recommendations based on the current stock of housing, along with projected population growth:

Specific Watershed Policy Guidelines:

2007 through 2025: Allocation of 100 percent of the required 102,000 dwelling units inside the existing Urban Development Boundary (UDB) through 2025;

2026 through 2050: Allocation of a minimum of 60 percent (61,000) of the required 102,000 dwelling units inside the existing UDB between 2026 and 2050″


How much more clear does this issue have to be? If you have a chance read through the document. It has a lot of great graphics and data that support land use changes within the boundary that increase density along transit corridors (new and existing). We need another UDB like we need another 8 years of George Bush. Lets try implementing the policy recommendations that have already been made. The more these commissioners talk the more irrelevant they become.

In other UDB related news, the West Kendall Community Council delayed a meeting last week to discuss a project called ‘Parkland 2014′, a Lennar development that encompasses over nine hundred acres outside the UDB. “According to the completed plans filed with the county earlier this year, the developer is proposing 1,257 single-family homes, 2,436 townhomes, 3,248 condos, and about 200,000 square feet of retail space off Southwest 152nd Street and Southwest 162nd Avenue.” Oh Jeez.

Save My Train

If the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority is forced to cut trains, the authority — and even the state, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — could face a $275 million lawsuit by the Federal Transit Administration, Tri-Rail officials fear.

Only in Miami/South Florida does a transit agency face a lawsuit from the Federal Transit Administration for reduced local funding for transit.  How do we think this decision will affect Miami-Dade’s attempts to secure funding for the north corridor?  Let’s ask “Pepe” Diaz what he thinks:

“If we’re cutting routes locally,” [“Pepe” Diaz] said, “where are going to get the funding for Tri-Rail?”

That’s the spirit, justify the Tri-Rail cuts with our own local stumbles.

Follow this link to send emails to our local senators in support of Tri-Rail…

The Herald is reporting that the county commission overturned Mayor Alvarez’s veto in favor of moving the Urban Development Boundary for a Lowe’s at 8th St and 137th Ave and a retail center at Kendall Drive and (gulp), 167th Avenue (i.e. the Everglades). More sprawl, more self-interests, more incompetence. We’ll have lots more on this later.

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…)

Miami-Dade Bus Stop

If you’ve been sitting at (or more likely driving by…) one of the Miami-Dade County bus stops lately, then you’ve likely noticed the addition of some new blue trash receptacles. I recently spoke with John Labriola at MDT to get a better understanding of the trash bin program and the financing behind it:

“All were in Unincorporated Miami-Dade, as the County does not have jurisdiction over bus stops in incorporated areas. The bins were installed by MDT with funding from the Solid Waste Department, which will be responsible for emptying out and maintaining the litter bins.”

MDT identified the 1,000 stations for the Miami-Dade Solid Waste Management Department and were placed from August through December.

We are relieved to know that the trash bin funding came from outside sources rather than some of the recent raids on the PTP and are glad to see that MDT is not responsible for the maintenance. The fact that MDT or Solid Waste, both County agencies, do not have the authority or jurisdiction to place these receptacles within the municipalities is a cause for concern. This is a blatant example of the division we experience in Miami-Dade due the fragmentation of municipalities. These multiple cities create that extra layer of bureaucracy which in this case, prevent the county agencies from rolling out a consistent pattern for municipal structures. Note: Miami-Dade bus shelters are located only in unincorporated areas as well, leaving the individual municipalities to purchase their own distinct shelters while preventing MDT from establishing a countywide brand image. It may seem insignificant, but the trash bins provide a visual glimpse of the political barriers our county agencies face…

City of Miami Bus Shelter and Trash Bins:

City of Miami Bus Shelter

Coral Gables Bus Stop and Trash Bin:

Coral Gables Bus Stop

Tagged with:
 

Photo by Flickr User ImageMD.

If you haven’t heard the news, head over to the Miami Herald and read about the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) vote to reject the planned use of sales tax money to purchase new Metrorail cars. At least they are protecting the tax money that’s supposed to go towards new service.

Meanwhile, Miami Gardens is asking Miami-Dade to bump the North Corridor Expansion to Phase 1, presumably making it priority over the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) connector. I’m not sure what benefit they expect to see out of that, as the MIC connection is not using federal funds and is currently the only piece of the Orange Line that looks like it might get built.

The feds pointed out when they downgraded the rating that they didn’t trust Miami-Dade to fund Metrorail properly. This whole failure to refurbish the cars in a timely manner merely proves them right. The CITT is trying to get the point across that band-aid fixes won’t work anymore. MDT needs a solid funding plan to get out of the current hole it’s in, and an equally solid plan to fund expansion. Without that, the feds won’t give Metrorail a dime.

Photo originally uploaded by Three15Bowery
If the only way you have found to keep your sanity in the absurd traffic of Miami is by hopping onto your bicycle and riding, you are not alone. As traffic worsens and gas prices skyrocket, bike commuting is slowly becoming less of a recreational idea and more of a reasonable commuting alternative. In addition to navigating around South Florida traffic, biking is an easy way to save money regularly and get in shape daily. Miami-Dade TV has released this video showing an example of an elementary school arts teacher who commutes daily from Cutler Ridge to North Miami using bike and transit.

This website will be helpful to map your route or to see other people’s routes.

Do you commute by bike? Have you considered the idea? We’d love to hear from you.

Tagged with:
 
  • The State growth management planners have officially drafted a report recommending Miami-Dade County commissioners to reject the most recent bids to move the Urban Development Boundary further west. The issue will now head back to county commissioners who will vote again based on the state’s recommendations.
  • We really did not see this going any other way, considering the state has repeatedly warned County Commissioners on the devastating consequences our area would face should the UDB be extended west. We hope that Sally Heyman stays true to her word and reverts to her original vote against the expansion and are perplexed that this issue will somehow only narrowly be defeated. When it comes to the UDB, much of the county commission does not vote in the best interest of constituents. We’ll keep you posted as to when the County will be meeting, but in the meantime e-mail your county commissioner
  • Miami-Dade County Commissioners gathered in Washington D.C. this week to meet with Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson to discuss the fate of the upcoming N/S and E/W metrorail extensions. The N/S extension was recently downgraded due to financial uncertainty within MDT. Simpson urged the county officials to work together and put an end to the racial bickering which has plagued much of the county’s projects since the 1970s.
    • We hope that the County administration comes back home with a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished in order to see these projects come to fruition. MDT and the Commission should be ashamed that these critical projects were downgraded because of poor management however, given the poor management of previous projects and ridiculous cost overruns, this really shouldn’t surprise us. Transportation options shouldn’t become the center of a cultural war, on the contrary, transit should unite our neighborhoods and make county-wide mobility easier for all.
  • The city of Coral Gables is looking into creating plan that would provide free parking to the drivers of electric vehicles. The plan is being considered after a recommendation by the city’s economic development board altered Commissioner Ralph Cabrera’s initiative to provide more downtown bicycle parking. Meanwhile, some within the city were looking to expand the initiative to provide reduced parking fees for owners of hybrid vehicles.
    • We commend Commissioner Cabrera for introducing some greener initiatives and for the city’s support in making Coral Gables a bicycle friendly community. Free parking for electric vehicles may be ahead of its time, considering that few electric vehicles are available on the market today, but the city is headed in the right direction in providing the local infrastructure to even make this technology possible. The exclusion of hybrid vehicles from this proposition is recommended by Transit Miami due to the varied nature of hybrid vehicles (20 mpg Yukon Hybrid - 50 mpg Prius.) We believe the city needs to continue in the green direction by subsidizing only virtually zero emission projects (Bicycle, EV, Trolley, Pedestrian, etc.)

    First, I want to thank everyone who has shared their thoughts regarding the Metrorail Train Tracker. It is precisely this kind of input/involvement that is so critical to helping improve mass transit and livability in Miami-Dade County.
    Judging by comments and emails, it sounds like many Miamian choice-riders would opt for riding Metrobus at least once in a while if the schedule was much more predictable. I very much agree and feel strongly that GPS tracking for buses is the future in coach transit. Just to get an idea of how a system in Miami-Dade might function, check out this link that shows a live map of GPS-tracked buses in Boulder, CO (it even shows the live speed of each bus!).

    Tagged with:
     

    Local:

    • 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?

    Elsewhere:

    • 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…

    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

    Tagged with:
     

    The Miami-Dade County Public Works Department and Florida Department of Transportation are at it again, busy coming up with harebrained ideas to “solve” the congestion problems of Miami-Dade. The recent proposed scheme is a system of reversible flow lanes scattered across the county adding a limited amount of capacity at certain points. The problem I have with system isn’t the lanes themselves, but rather how our local government continues to undermine itself and efforts to reduce congestion.

    About a decade ago, the state Department of Transportation tried to improve Seventh Avenue by removing on-street parking, especially those with ample nearby surface lots and behind-stores parking.

    Local merchants, commercial property owners and some nearby residents were outraged. The local politicians told the DOT to back off. Nothing changed.

    DOT tried to improve Seventh Avenue by removing on street parking? This is the fundamental problem I have encountered with my profession and is the main reason why I plan to jump ship from engineering to urban planning. Engineering, particularly transportation engineers, tend to be concerned with one thing and one thing only: efficiency. FDOT has a nasty habit of overlooking other crucial details such as transit use, on street parking, streetscapes, bicycle facilities, and pedestrian interaction in the name of squeezing out a little extra capacity.

    Other serious questions need to be addressed. This is a community with high transit usage, meaning more pedestrians than other parts of town. Will they be able to safely cross the avenue? Lighting will be paramount.

    I predict if this disaster of a plan is put into effect, we will inevitably witness pedestrian deaths increase sharply. Under this plan Seventh Avenue will become a highway, inaccessible to anything and anyone not traveling in a car and further hampering efforts to create a livable community.

    If the reversible lanes work, operationally and politically, on Seventh Avenue, more of them may follow. Several studies are under way: North Miami Avenue, between downtown and 79th or 82nd street; U.S. 1, from I-95 to Bird Road; portions of Flagler Street, and Bird Road, just west of the turnpike, between southwest 117th and 147th avenues.

    US-1 from I-95 to Bird Road? Never mind the fact that this stretch of street runs parallel to the one logical transit solution in the county: Metrorail. Adding capacity along US-1 is the last thing we should do when we already have a solution with plenty of capacity zooming along overhead. Why waste PTP money to undermine our transit system? This plan will create miniature highways all across the county, jeopardizing any hopes of creating urban neighborhoods.

    Upcoming Meetings 6-8 pm:

    Tuesday: Church of the Open Doors UCC, 6001 NW Eighth Ave.
    Wednesday: Culmer-Overtown Neighborhood Center, 1600 NW Third Ave.
    Thursday: New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church, 777 NW 85th St.

    • Tri-Rail carried more passengers in 2007 than in 2006. The overall system ridership is up 31% since march 2006…
    • City of Miami is working on identifying vacant lots to be used for park space…
    • The County Commission is trying to get the state and federal government to kick in hundreds of millions of dollars for metrorail expansion, everglades restoration, river dredging, pedestrian overpasses, and a regional homeland security hub among other projects… We’ll cover this in more depth later today…
    • Office vacancy rates continue to decline
    • Bike Blog presents a comprehensive wish list for 2008 Bike facilities…

    Tagged with:
     
    The trolley above once ran down the streets of Miami, from 1925 to 1931. Anyone recognize which street? Automakers killed streetcars like this by buying up the transit companies and shutting them down. That was before my time, but it seems sensible to say that the streetcar died because of the automobile. The last thing we would want to see is the same mistake made again. Recent criticism of Miami’s votes to fund the streetcar point to the same phantom raising its ugly head again. Norman Braman, owner of Braman Management and its car dealerships, has come forward with sharp criticism of the plan to fund the port tunnel, Marlins stadium, and streetcar.
    One could point to the port tunnel and stadium as Braman’s main beef, but his past actions indicate the possibility that he is chiefly against the streetcar. According to this Miami Herald article, he was behind an ad campaign 8 years ago against the penny sales tax to fund transit. So this is not the first time this car dealership owner has come out against public transit. We cannot pretend to know his motives, but the fact is, we have someone with vested interest in getting more people to buy cars trying to shoot down a system that will reduce people’s dependence on the automobile. One of his dealerships is in downtown Miami, where it could sell cars easily to the new residents that will be pouring into all the condo towers. The Miami Streetcar, when added to the existing transit options, will only make it easier for these residents to live without a car. So it is in Norman’s best interest to sue the county to keep it from getting funded. Even if Miami-Dade County eventually wins the suit, taxpayers will still be stuck with the legal fees and all these projects will likely get delayed while the suit is pending.

    Braman also plans to launch an ad campaign against the latest resolution about these projects. Short of launching our own ad campaign, one thing we can do is be prepared to counter the ads whenever friends or family see them. If you want to take it a step further, I’m sure you can suggest some good ideas. If someone wants to keep Miami in the dark ages of car centered design, then we must fight back.

    This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.