Currently viewing the tag: "Urban Development Boundary"

At last year’s Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) Transportation Summit, Maurice Ferré, former City of Miami Mayor and current Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) Chair, pointed to a map of his agency’s current and future projects and declared that it was MDX’s “dream” — yes, that’s a quote — to realize the proliferating highway vision embodied by that map.

A major feature of MDX’s so-called dream includes expanding the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) down through the far southwest reaches of Miami-Dade County. One of the competing versions of the dream would put the newly expanded tolled highway along the Miami-Dade County urban development boundary (UDB).

SR-836-Southwest-1-Kendall-Extension-map

 

Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in 2013. Source: Miami Geographic / Matthew Toro. 2014.

Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in 2013. Source: Miami Geographic. 2014.

Tolled highways are generally great, as they create an economic disincentive to single-occupant automobile use. People often respond to the price triggers of tolled highways by turning to more affordable, more accessible public transportation (bus, train, etc.), active mobility (biking, walking, etc.), and alternative mobility (car-pooling, short-distance car-sharing (Car2Go), real-time ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft), etc.) options.

In the metropolitan context of Miami-Dade County, though, these options are either underdeveloped or are just now getting started in earnest.

The Metrorail system, for instance, serves a very limited corridor.

Metrorail System 1-Mile Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. Miami Geographic. 2014.

Metrorail System 1-Mile Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. Miami Geographic. 2014.

An extensive bus system traverses most major arterial roads moving north-south and east-west, but buses carry a stigma of being either unreliable or unpleasant, or both.

Miamians are increasingly realizing that cycling and walking to their destinations isn’t as hard as our automobile-dominated culture would have us otherwise believe. Still, we’re many years away from realizing the active mobility utopia Miami has the potential to be.

In light of this shortage of viable mobility alternatives, then, one might think that the toll revenues generated by Miami’s highway dystopia would be directed toward investment in better public transportation infrastructure and streetscape amenities (e.g., wider sidewalks, proper bike lanes, etc.).

The problem with MDX, though, is that the toll monies it collects are used for increased highway development and an unwarranted expansion of roadway jurisdiction, not for the sorts of investments that would move greater Miami away from its automobile dependence.

As one of many cases in point: MDX is actively seeking to convert the only bus route in Miami-Dade County even remotely resembling true bus rapid transit, the South Miami-Dade Busway, into a highway falling under its jurisdiction, complete with overpasses and all.

Dumping more money into highways is tantamount to our community collectively signing a 50-100-year contract of servitude to stop-and-go highway hell. And that’s not to mention all of the broader economic and environmental ramifications: subsidizing the air-choking, global warming oil and gas industries; the financial crisis-inducing, and obesity-encouraging single-family real estate sprawl sector; the deforestation-promoting rubber sector in the tropics; the list goes on.

Miamians don’t have to accept this fate, though. We don’t have to sign away our city to this chain of corporate profiteers who refuse to adapt to the innovations in transportation infrastructure and human life demanded by 21st century urbanism.

The very first “Open House: Public Kick-off Meeting” for MDX’s Southwest Highway Expansion “dream” will be held in less than two weeks. This is Miami’s first real opportunity to voice its concerns about the project’s short-, medium-, and long-term impacts.

At the risk of sounding (even more?) cynical, I dare posit that these sorts of meetings are intended primarily to fulfill certain state and federal requirements to maintain minimum transparency levels, as well as to offer just enough opportunity for public input so that any future complaints made when the real impacts of such projects are felt can be expediently dismissed with the standard bureaucratic “We offered the public the chance to speak, and no such concerns were brought up then.” By then, it’s simply too little, too late.

The point is that the time to speak is now — during this preliminary Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study — not when this study materializes into an actionable plan and the construction crews are out there at the edge of the Everglades laying out a new highway.

Don’t let MDX’s highway dream become Miami’s prolonged highway nightmare. Be there and speak up!

 

MDX SR 836 / Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension

Open House Public Kickoff Meeting

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6:00pm - 9:00pm

Miami Baptist Church

14955 SW 88th Street

Miami, FL 33196

Our Urban Development Boundary (UDB) constrains the encroachment of real estate development — typically in the form of single-family residential sprawl — into our precious agricultural and other environmentally-sensitive lands, such as the wetland and terrestrial ecosystems of Everglades National Park.

The agriculture sector contributes significantly to the local economy. As recently explained in WLRN’s excellent series “The Sunshine Economy”:

Agriculture generates a direct $700 million dollars a year in Miami-Dade County alone. The economic impact of the plowing, growing and picking of those crops is much larger.

Agricultural Land-Use in Miami-Dade County, Florida -- 2013. Source: Matthew Toro

Agricultural Land-Use in Miami-Dade County, Florida — 2013. Source: Matthew Toro

Agricultural land-uses in Miami-Dade County are found primarily in the southwest, in what’s known as the Redland Agricultural Area (often referred to as the “Redlands”).

One can also find plenty of fruit stands selling tropical and sub-tropical delights, fruits and vegetables that are sometimes virtually impossible to grow in any US region outside of South Florida.

Significant horticultural industries can be found out there too, including processing and packaging facilities for orchids and other ornamental plants.

If you haven’t already, visit the agricultural periphery of Miami-Dade County. It’ll change your whole perspective of what “Miami” truly is . . .

We need your help now to protect the Everglades.

Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is planning to expand the 836 Dolphin Expressway west toward Krome Avenue and then south to Tamiami Airport. This project would accelerate westward development, threaten agriculture, and threaten Everglades restoration.

Please email written comments to tgarcia@mdxway.com by this Friday, January 27, 2012.

Here’s a sample comment to cut and paste or put in your own words.

I ask the MDX board to remove the 836/Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension (project 83618) from its 5-year plan. I question the necessity of the this project and am concerned about the impacts to residents, agriculture and America’s Everglades.

I believe this road is unnecessary and will actually will increase, not alleviate, congestion on SR 836. Commuters currently have the option of taking several highways into downtown Miami. The existing 836, the Florida Turnpike, the 874, the 878 and the 826. Most of these roads have been or are currently being rebuilt to handle greater capacity. Future and existing toll revenues should be used to maintain these roads and provide for public transit alternatives, not to build new roads into environmentally sensitive areas.

The project will threaten Everglades National Park and nearby federally-protected wetlands. A new layer of highway extending away from the city will fuel sprawl because of its proximity to the Urban Development Boundary. This highway would attract development of agricultural and wild lands buffering the Everglades and pose a direct threat to the $12 billion federal-state Everglades restoration project.

Name
Adrress
Phone number
Email

Tell MDX that this project will waste natural resources and exacerbate sprawl and traffic.

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Whoever said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” probably had the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in mind. As if the recent real estate market crash was not enough of a wakeup call for our elected leaders, commissioners recently voted to expand the Urban Development Boundary – the line that separates agricultural and environmentally sensitive land from urbanized areas – for a 9.9 acre commercial development that adds to the existing stock of vacant and undeveloped land in Miami-Dade County. Apparently, some county commissioners didn’t get the memo that their love for suburban sprawl over the past decade led to the real estate market tanking, and to the bloated county government that they now seek to reign-in.

The transportation connection: UDB expansions are being closely coordinated with an upcoming massive highway expansion along the western border of the county being proposed by MDX. The pink box in the middle titled 'Ferro' is the subject of this latest application. Thanks to Genius of Despair for the image.

They must have overlooked the 2010 EPA report, “Growing for a Sustainable Future” that described an inventory of 16,140 acres of undeveloped land within the boundary. That amounts to 6% of the land within the urbanized area of Miami-Dade County - currently vacant. With so much land within the boundary unused why are commissioners adding more land to existing capacity? Is it that they want to further depress land values and our economic recovery?  Some cite the need for jobs – oh jobs! The latest excuse for any project to be shoved down our collective throats is the promise of jobs. Want jobs? Here’s a stadium. Jobs you say? How about a humongous resort casino?

But, when it comes to the UDB amnesia sets in about the 16,140 acres of empty land within the UDB waiting for development.  Let’s put this in perspective– 16,140 acres is approximately 25 square miles. The island of Manhattan – from Battery City Park to 218 street - is only 22.96 square miles. I would say that we have more than enough development capacity to last the next 100 years and beyond without having to touch the UDB – and that’s just with our undeveloped land. Take into account underdeveloped land and we should never expand the UDB again.

Critics argue that the line was never meant to be a solid boundary – but a flexible delineation between the reach of county services and the agricultural and environmental lands beyond. There may be 16,000 acres of undeveloped land in the city– but what about the residents of this suburban neighborhood? Don’t they deserve access to strip malls and warehouses and outparcels within close proximity? What if they need closer services? This particular property is already surrounded by developed residential land – what is 9 more acres of commercial land? Attorney for the project Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said, “You’re not talking about some land that’s out in the middle of nowhere. It’s contiguous with the UDB.” Of course this argument ignores an undeveloped 40 acre tract designated for commercial development, currently within the UDB, as well as the existing Hammocks mall, both within ½ mile of this site and with enough commercial capacity to serve the surrounding community for the next 30 years.

Commissioners might argue that they shouldn’t dictate where development happens. If a willing developer wants to build a Publix on what is currently farmland – so be it. Except they overlook the fact that in expanding the extent of county services, they put us all on the hook to provide those new areas with infrastructure, police, and life safety services. That single story Publix surrounded by a parking lot uses the same services as the 8-story mixed-use building in the urban core – only it provides a fraction of the tax base forcing commissioners to make a choice between two evils: reduce services for the rest of the county, or raise tax rates.

Last week County Commissioner Xavier Suarez wrote a column for the Huffington Post that critiqued Mayor Gimenez’ latest county budget saying that “absolutely nothing changed in the way the county does business.” The same day that column was published he voted to expand the UDB for an application that has been repeatedly criticized as unnecessary, and for which the County’s own professional planning department recommended denial because of the reasons noted above. Our leaders cannot simultaneously seek to reduce the bloated bureaucracy of county government and at the same time expand the extent of the county services. If Suarez and other commissioners want to break the business as usual attitude in county hall they should start with the UDB.  The application has to come back to the commission for a final vote in the spring – let’s hope commissioners come to their senses and hold the line – indefinitely.

 

The bond sale will be done through the Building Better Communities project, a $2.93 billion capital improvements program approved overwhelmingly by voters back in 2004… Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said that while the projects are laudable, he opposed the measure because it relies on a commission move last September to raise the property-tax rate that goes to pay for county debt, to 44.5 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

Check out the list of projects and see what you think. The list lacks details, but includes a couple of bike projects, lots of park projects, and an slew of other water/sewer, public service, community, and safety facilities.

I just finished reading the 2010 Emerging Trends in Real Estate.  Now in its 31st year, this report is jointly produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). This is the first time I have read this report, but I am very impressed. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers webpage this report:

is the oldest, most highly regarded annual industry outlook for the real estate and land use industry and includes interviews and survey responses from more than 900 leading real estate experts, including investors, developers, property company representatives, lenders, brokers and consultants.”

The report is downright bearish on real estate development for 2010.The report goes on the say that real estate developers are “largely dead” and that “builders can leave on long sabbaticals”. They don’t foresee construction picking up until 2012, but when it does, most construction will be focused on urban infill development.

This is great news for those of us that believe that our cities are our future. Below are some of my favorite excerpts from this report:

Next generation projects will orient to infill, urbanizing suburbs, and transit-oriented development. Smaller housing units-close to mass transit, work and 24 hour amenities-gain favor over large houses on big lots at the suburban edge.  People will continue to see greater convenience and want to reduce energy expenses, shorter commutes and smaller heating bills make up for high infill real estate costs.” (Page 12)

Infill vs. Suburbs. Road congestion, higher energy costs, and climate change concerns combine to alter people’s thinking about where they decide to live and work.  ‘It’s a fundamental shift.’ The lifestyle cost-of-living equation starts to swing away more dramatically from bigger houses on bigger lots at the suburban edge to great convenience and efficiencies gained from infill housing closer to work. These homes maybe more expensive on a price-per-pound basis, but reduced driving costs and lower heating/cooling bills provide offsets. And time saved avoiding traffic hassles moderates stress and enhances productivity. ‘Two-hour commutes reach a tipping point with higher energy costs’ and ‘near-in suburbs will do well especially if they link to business cores by mass transportation.” (Page 32)

Investors tend to favor the following:

  • Global gateway markets on East and West coasts- featuring international airports, ports and major commercial centers.
  • Cities and urbanizing infill suburbs with 24-hour attributes-upscale, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, convenient office, retail, entertainment, and recreation districts; mass transit alternatives to driving; good schools (public and/private); and relatively safe streets.
  • Brainpower centers-places that offer dynamic combination of colleges and universities, high paying industries-high tech, biotech, finance, and health cars (medical centers drug companies)- and government offices.” (Page 27)

Denver metro area wins points for building out its light-rail network, encouraging transit –oriented mixed-use projects around stations.” (Page 35)

So what does this mean for Miami’s future?

  • We should hold the Urban Development Boundary, this report confirms that 2 hour commutes are out of vogue.
  • Miami 21 should be implemented immediately and not delayed any further.
  • A large scale light rail system, including Baylink, is long overdue
  • If Miami wants to become a competitive city we need to diversify our economy as much as possible in order to become a brainpower center. A service economy based predominantly on tourism will not attract educated people seeking high paying jobs.

  • Today the County discussed today ending the costly and moronic appeals of the last round of UDB lawsuits (brought on by the State’s rejection of the expansion). Katy Sorenson, always the voice of reason, sought a motion to end the appeals, but was shut down by Chairman Moss. Katy will now be proposing a resolution (at a subsequent meeting)  to end the appeals. I hope she is successful. Why they are continuing to spend money we don’t have on this (while cutting important services) is beyond me. Kudos to Mayor Alvarez and the members of the commission who see this as a waste of time and resources. Sigh.
  • The tentative date for the yearly Transit Summit is November 18th, from 5-8 pm.  Ysela Llort described the format of the meeting as one where we discuss “living within our means.” I’m skeptical of what will come out of this meeting given the content of the recent Transit Development 10 year plan. (More on this in a separate post).
  • Warren Buffet is making a big bet on the future of rail in the US, expanding his rail holdings of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. (NYTimes)
  • I heart Katy: The MPO approved a resolution sponsored by Katy Sorenson that requires ghg’s to be taken into account when preparing transportation planning assessments. “The MPO is responsible for planning our transportation system county-wide, and the choices we make now will be felt for generations,” said Commissioner Sorenson.  “Factoring carbon emissions into the choices the MPO Board must consider in weighing mass transit and road projects is a good first step toward a sustainable transportation system for our County.” (County)
  • Awesome: 119 Acres are being added to the South Dade Wetlands Project through the EEL Program (total land saved so far: 19,577 acres).

This week visitors from the EPA Smart Growth office joined the UDB/Hold the line fray as self described ‘outside observers’. They were invited by the County commission, and boy do they have their work cut out for them.

Thursday’s workshop was a mini battle royale, with the developer/attorney camp led by sprawl advocate Jeffrey Bercow pitted against the smart growth crowd. The speakers from the EPA began their talk by saying that they didn’t come with any preconceived notions, but the fact that they represent a ‘smart growth’ office means that they should begin by making it clear that they support smart growth policies, containing growth within a growth boundary and supporting infill. They made no such claims, only to ask us what we wanted from our UDB. For the record the UDB should: encourage infill, encourage agriculture, provide a buffer between development and the everglades, and discourage sprawl.

Several speakers made excellent points on the smart growth side, while only one speaker came out in favor of sprawl and for moving the line, Jeffrey Bercow (and friend Truly Burton who gave her time for his powerpoint presentation). His points were mostly about how we need sprawl. He cited economic reasons (without flexibility in moving the line housing prices will rise), while also saying that most people don’t want to live in dense, skyscrapers (his narrow definition of infill). I pointed out that that was a result of obsolete, auto-centric zoning codes that prohibit walkable, intermediate building types - not a lack of demand on the side of the market. (A point reiterated by this recent study by Todd Litman about the demand for smart growth housing.)

My biggest suggestion to our friends from the EPA deals with the amount of available land within the line. Available supply within the UDB should be calculated taking into account capacity along ALL corridors, not just within 1/4 mile of rail transit stops. This is the only way of taking into account the real infill capacity within the line, and would extend the horizon of available infill land within the UDB well past the time frame required by the Planning Department.

I could go into Bercow’s presentation, but without the visuals you won’t see how ridiculous it actually was. One point he made that I can’t let slip by was to make the case for sprawl by arguing that jobs centers were too far away, requiring further expansion of the line. Uhhh, what? Yeah, he actually said that. Wonders never cease. He (and Truly) also complained of NIMBY problems when trying to support infill development (definitely a problem), while failing to mention how they are both against the most important infill project in the country: Miami 21. Seems like the only thing they really believe in is whatever their clients pay them to believe in.

Transit Miami friend, and manager of urban planning for the DDA Javier Betancourt said it best in his June 2009 letter to the Miami Herald.

By focusing our collective efforts on revitalizing and expanding existing communities through infill development, we will make better use of our land supply, reduce congestion and preserve our region’s valuable natural resources. At the same time, we will realize a number of economic and urban planning benefits, including better connectivity between businesses and the labor force, more efficient use of our existing infrastructure and across-the-board increases in property values.

For you ‘Hold the Line’ advocates, come down to the Main Library Auditorium this Thursday to let the EPA know what you think of the UDB policy in Dade County. They are here (at the invitation of the Commission) to review the policy and provide comments on how to encourage smart growth and infill development. Don’t miss this opportunity - the next round of UDB battles will be soon upon us, and we need all the ammo we can get!

Workshop for Analysis of Miami-Dade County’s Growth Management Policies
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Miami-Dade County Main Library, Auditorium
101 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33130
2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Open Public Session facilitated by Kevin Nelson (EPA)
The purpose of this Session is to gather comments from the public and all other interested parties.

Friday, October 16, 2009
Board of County Commissioners Chamber
111 NW 1st Street, 2nd Floor, Miami, Fl 33128
8:30 - 10:00 a.m. Experts present preliminary findings/research approach for urban development boundary
10:00 -10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 -12:00 p.m. Experts present preliminary findings/research approach for infill policies
12:00 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch Break
2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Concluding session with summary and next steps
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Public comments/Adjournment

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The Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) is the guiding document of planning in Miami-Dade County. It sets the regulations governing land development and is the DNA of our urban plan (both within and outside of the UDB). Fixing this document is one of the most important ways that we can realize serious changes in our unsustainable pattern of development. This from the Miami-Dade Planning and Zoning Department:

Every 7 years, the Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) is reviewed and updated as required per Chapter 163 of the Florida Statutes.  The EAR evaluates the progress in implementing the goals, objectives, policies, maps and text of the CDMP and recommends changes through EAR-based plan amendments, which are to be prepared and adopted within 18 months of a sufficiency review conducted by the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

Microsoft Word - Flyer-Public Participation.doc

Because the CDMP governs what can be built outside the UDB, it is imperative that the regulations governing residential development outside the line be changed. Currently the plan allows for 1 unit per 5 acres, leading to large ranch estate subdivisions. Amending the CDMP is the front line of the UDB battle. Everyone interested in holding the line should make their opinion heard at the Town Hall meetings.

I had to post the complete text of this great editorial by DDA Urban Planning Manager Javier Betancourt:

Last month’s court ruling halting the planned development of a Lowes superstore outside Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary was an important victory in the ongoing battle against westward sprawl in our community. But the more pressing issue going forward is whether residential development outside the boundary should proceed.

The answer to this question is a resounding “No.”

Now that new commercial development on the fringe of the Everglades has been rejected, urban planners along with developers and business and civic leaders should turn their attention to the chief challenge facing Miami-Dade: how to create a sustainable community without expanding our geographic footprint.

By focusing our collective efforts on revitalizing and expanding existing communities through infill development, we will make better use of our land supply, reduce congestion and preserve our region’s valuable natural resources. At the same time, we will realize a number of economic and urban planning benefits, including better connectivity between businesses and the labor force, more efficient use of our existing infrastructure and across-the-board increases in property values.

Miami was planned and developed after the advent of the automobile, so sprawl became a way of life in South Florida. Only now we are witnessing a reversal of this trend, as residents and businesses inject new life into urban centers that were long overlooked.

Some of the most desirable neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County — Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, South Miami, Miami Lakes and Downtown Dadeland, to name a few — have been home to condensed growth that combines residential, commercial and retail development. Each of these communities offers opportunities for continued investment, and each is taking shape within the confines of the UDB.

Nowhere have the benefits of infill development been more evident than in Downtown Miami, home to our state’s largest employment center, an existing public transit system and commercial base, and a population that has grown by more than 50 percent since 2000.

The mixed-use development that has taken shape in our urban core has accelerated Downtown Miami’s evolution as a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly district. New businesses are opening, people are moving in, cultural and entertainment institutions are thriving, and street activity is picking up after hours. These trends speak to a growing demand for the convenience and lifestyle offered by urban communities and to a dramatic shift away from sprawl.

The court’s decision in May supported the need for sustainable growth. Now the business and civic communities need to act by advocating against expanding the UDB and evaluating how to maximize our investments in the emerging urban centers within the boundary.

PS. This was posted in the business section.

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Miami transit/livable city advocates may be interested in attending The Miami-Dade Urban Environment League’s  “Hold the Line” (as in Urban Growth Boundary line) picnic Sunday at Crandon Park.

image001142383

In yet another instance of wasted transit surtax dollars, the CITT voted yesterday to acquire land directly adjacent to the UDB in order to turn SW 157 avenue into a high-speed four lane urban highway. Too bad, this just gives opponents of the surtax more fuel to send it back to voters. Several more votes will be required to allocate funds for the construction of the road, so there is still time to contact your commissioner and let them know that the surtax should not be used on roadway expansion.

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To CITT Members

From Ted Wilde, former CITT member 2003-07, Chair of Project and Financial Review

Re: May 28 CITT item to acquire land for widening SW 157 Ave. would be a poor use of scarce surtax funds

Summary. On April 16 the Project and Financial Review Committee split 2-2 on the resolution to acquire 15 properties for adding two lanes to SW 157 Ave. from SW 152 St. to SW 184 St. so the resolution is to be presented “without recommendation” to the May 28 full CITT. The CITT can reject this unnecessary project that will lead to misusing $13.2 million of surtax funds for road construction on the Urban Development Boundary. Supporters of the project state that SW 157 Ave. needs to connect to SW 184 St. Fine, it already connects completely; traffic on this road flows freely throughout the day, including during rush hours.

CITT can envision better alternatives. In the current severe reduction of government funds and of the transit projects in the People’s Transportation Plan [PTP], the CITT can preserve funds for projects directly serving transit users. Last year, Miami-Dade Transit applied rigorous cost-benefit criteria to cut back bus routes and frequencies. Doubling of the number of lanes of this part of SW 157 Ave. could not pass a cost-benefit analysis. Acquiring these 15 parcels is certainly not “a Public Necessity.”

In the face of all the transit cutbacks, the County Administration continues to seek completion of all PTP road and street projects proposed by County Commissioners. This is an insult to the citizens and also to Commissioners, as if they were so inflexible that they could not accept changes in 2009 to projects they proposed in 2002.

Funds the CITT saves now can be redirected later for future modest-cost transit efforts like bus rapid transit.

The County omitted essential information for an informed CITT decision. The documentation presented to CITT members before the Project and Financial Review meeting was highly deficient. It did not inform the CITT that the entire length of the proposed construction is on the Urban Development Boundary. The whole west side of this road segment is agricultural land; only the east side has mainly residential development. This part of SW 157 Ave with one side without residences will not generate the level of traffic of the road to the north where both sides are developed.

The previous documentation does not explain that the payments for land acquisition (cost not estimated), the $1.155 million for H & J Asphalt, and $228,228 for FP&L are only the start. A few years ago, total land and construction costs were projected at $13.2 million, a 35 % increase from the original projection of $9.75 million.

The documentation does not give the results of the traffic count on May 17, 2006, which showed that even in peak morning and afternoon rush hours, the traffic level never reached more than 55 % of “LOS 3,” the Level of Service of “stable flow,” which is the usual target for urban highways. An updated traffic count this year would be useful.

History of this project. The original engineering study for this project was voted down by the CITT in May 2006. It was reconsidered and passed in June 2006 (without having being placed on the published agenda).

Visit the site. Useful preparation for making a decision on this proposal is to visit the site during morning or afternoon rush hour. I visited the site on Thursday, April 2, 2009, at 7:58 a.m. In the 2006 traffic study, 8:00-8:30 a.m. was the peak of the rush hour. Starting on SW 157 Ave. at SW 184 St., I drove north to SW 152 St., back south the whole way, back north, south, and north again, 5 complete trips of the 2.3 mile route. I drove easily at 41 mph (speed limit 40), stopping at the two stop signs along the way. There is also a stop sign at SW 184 St., and the traffic light at SW 152 St.  At each end, I had to make a u-turn. Total time for the 5 trips and 4 u-turns was 24 minutes. Commuter drivers elsewhere in Miami-Dade would be fortunate to have such an easy ride.

The CITT will be holding a vote tonight on the proposed widening of SW 157 Avenue from 152 street to 184 street.  Currently a two lane road, 157 avenue is adjacent to the UDB, and will be converted into a higher speed four lane collector. This is yet another colossal waste of taxpayer dollars (to the tune of $13.2 million), and a great example of how the transportation tax has been wasted on projects that exacerbate our traffic problems, while not addressing our defunct transit system. Keep in mind that this road is close to Lennar’s proposed Parkland development (on 152 Street) and will surely come into play once the UDB battle ramps up again.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Stephen P. Clark County Center, 111 NW 1st St. Please come out and let the members of the CITT know that road widening next to the UDB is a BAD idea and not what the transit tax is for!

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