Currently viewing the tag: "Congestion"
The conclusion to the three part story on Auckland, New Zealand’s car addiction. This part concentrates on the sustainable and economic benefits of upgrading to alternative transit. They accurately rip apart the notion of cars, highways, and the expanded option of “personal independence” contributing an “economic benefit” to society…

Tagged with:
 
It somehow always seems that when Transit/Development news flares up, so do events in our personal lives. In any case, here are some of the top news stories this week, some of which we’ll get around to commenting on:

Local:

  • The next phase of the Metrorail extension hasn’t even broken ground and already the cost overruns have begun. This time Parson’s is looking for an additional $13 million in “Consultant fees.” I’m not specifically implicating that Parsons has something to do with this, but, I find it intriguing that nearly every project they’ve worked on locally (Miami Intermodal Center, MIA North Terminal, MIA South Terminal, PAC, Boston’s Big Dig, etc.) has come in way over budget. Is there something we don’t know, or is it really that easy to bilk the county out of money once you’re hired to do contracting/engineering/management work? I guess choosing the French construction giant Bouygues Travaux Publics, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
  • Top issues for Kendall this year? Forget Cityhood, how about congestion, lots of it. It’s only getting worse too as years pass and opportunities for real transit come and go (Tri-Rail Kendall link anyone?) If the Kendall community fears Tri-Rail trains traveling down an existing ROW behind their houses or an “unsightly” elevated rail down Kendall drive is going to lower their property values, just wait and see the nose dive congestion will cause. At least the recent efforts have paused (momentarily) foolish FDOT hopes of expanding Killian to 6 lanes west of 137th Avenue. Perhaps Kendall residents are beginning to realize that the car isn’t a viable solution…
  • Like him or not, Manny Diaz has a Vision. We’ll dig into this much more in depth soon…
  • I’m liking the looks of a final panel report on the UDB. Key part of this would require 3/4 of commissioners to move the line for projects and would bring in an outside firm to redraw the line.
  • Live Nation is set to bring yet more events to Bayfront Park. Can’t a Park just be a Park? I’m not arguing against the Museums, those are neccessary, but why does Bayfront need so many attractions to make it successful? I think the park would induce more local use if there was less cement and far more shade trees, just a thought…
  • The Federal DOT has given MDT a grant to purchase 16 hybrid express buses for the new HOT lane project on I-95. The buses will travel from downtown Miami to Ft. Lauderdale. Now can we please modernize the system and implement farecards (and new machines) that are transferable on all 3 local agencies?
  • Don’t ride Transit, Buy a BMW…No seriously, Norman Braman wants you to buy a BMW and skip out on urban life…Oh, more on this soon…However, please follow this link for some laughable signs of hypocrisy…
  • Gasp! This first paragraph says it all: “The [Palmetto Bay] Village Council approved a special permit allowing a new commercial development to put all of its parking spaces on the street at a zoning hearing Monday.” Note: A special permit. I know this is a young, incorporated bedroom community and all, but seriously, can we get some logical planning oversight around there? (In Case you missed it, we’re glad to see the use of on street parking in this and other bedroom communities…This shouldn’t be a special instance, but, rather the norm….)
  • Watering rules in effect now till forever. Green lawns aren’t a necessity folks…
National:
  • Cape Cod wind farm moves one crucial step closer to disturbing a bunch of rich folks’ “pristine” views…
  • Northern Virginia (and Atlanta) is getting closer to funding a new streetcar. Not enough BMW dealers in the area I guess…

We haven’t learned from our mistakes, that’s for sure. Henry Ford launched the model T, in an effort to make vehicles affordable to more people. Recently, Indian carmaker Tata Motors launched the world’s most affordable car, whatever that is, with a base price tag of just $2500. Shocking, I know. Ratan Tata touts the Tata Nano, pictured above, as “The People’s Car” and as MSN said, it is bringing “car ownership into the reach of millions.” There is a fundamental problem here: we are continuing down a path of unsustainable practices and living. There are clear lessons that still have not been learned from our past mistakes and will only become further compounded with vehicles that facilitate car ownership. This statement, an excerpt from a Forbes article, really irks me most:

“Most of all, it would give millions of people now relegated to lesser means of transportation the chance to drive cars.”

No Comment.

“The potential impact of Tata’s Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging India’s already-choked roads and collectively spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.

Industry analysts, however, say the car may soon deliver to India and the rest of the developing world unprecedented mobility.”

I would like to ask these industry analysts what sort of mobility do they expect if India’s roads are already overburdened and suffering from extreme congestion.

The car culture of the United States has sadly been exported to nearly every developing nation. The devastating effects this will undoubtedly cause cannot be quantified economically or ecologically for the world as a whole…

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:
 
Off-street parking requirements [imposed by a city for new developments] and cars…present a symbiotic relationship: the requirements lead to free parking, the free parking leads to more cars and more cars then lead to even higher parking requirements. When 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet [of new building] no longer satisfy the peak demand for free parking, a stronger dose of 4 spaces per 1,000 square feet can alleviate the problem, but not for long because cars increase in numbers to fill the new parking spaces. Every jab of the parking needle relieves the local symptoms, but ultimately worsens the real disease — too much land and capital devoted to parking and cars. Parking requirements are good for motorists in the short run but bad for cities in the long run.

- Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking

The Coral Gables Gazette recently published a troubling article on a trolley study conducted by the University of Miami’s Industrial Engineering department. Troubling not because of the results of the study but because of how ridiculously logical the conclusions were. The simplicity can be summed up best by the CGG’s article title: New study: Trolley saves 712 parking space per day. You don’t say? Transit actually reduces the number of parking spaces needed in an urban area, what’s next, you’re going to suggest transit reduces congestion?

Engineering, calculates that the trolley saves the city 712 parking spaces a day and reduces the amount of vehicle traffic along the route by 1.2 million miles a year.

Gasp! Obviously we’re floored that this can still be considered newsworthy and is typically not common knowledge. Coral Gables commissioners are considering affixing a charge to ride the system which is currently free. Not all city commissioners appear to be happy with the success:

[Commissioner Ralph] Cabrera also reiterated past complaints that the trolley system had evolved from its original purpose as a downtown circulator into more of a connector between county mass transit systems.

Who cares as long as the system effectively reduces congestion in the Coral Gables Downtown Core? Since the city is unwilling to reduce the parking requirements for buildings to begin with, we might as well reduce the need for all the parking being built anyway. Although I agree MDT should do more to help the city transit service, axing the project would cause too many problems. At least someone sees the benefits brought forth by the system:

[Vice Mayor William] Kerdyk said that the independent study, which he points out that he didn’t even commission, should erase any doubts to the effectiveness and importance of the system although he wasn’t sure that questions regarding budgeting for the trolley system would go away as a result of the study.

First we brought you the incredibly useful Walk Score, a program geared to determining how navigable neighborhoods are for people

Today I’d like to introduce Drive Score, the anti-walking, pro-sprawl, and guaranteed laziness application which uses incredibly flawed methods to create a map of vehicle accessible areas. One would think if you ranked poorly on Walk Score, you’d rank high on drive score, right? Not necessarily. Just for fun, I entered a highly walkable Manhattan address to see how “drivable” this program claims the city to be and came up with an 88! You know, never mind the bumper to bumper traffic, lack of dedicated parking, or any sane analysis, this program spews out pure gibberish…

Tagged with:
 

toll-stoppaytoll, originally uploaded by Robertson Adams.

More tolls to come? What will they fund?

-Via TM reader Robertson

Tagged with:
 
“It follows that increasing road capacity can actually make overall congestion on the road worse. This occurs when the shift from public transport causes a disinvestment in the mode such that the operator either reduces frequency of service or raises fares to cover costs. This shifts additional passengers into cars. Ultimately the system may be eliminated and congestion on the original (expanded) road is worse than before.

The general conclusion, if the paradox applies, is that expanding a road system as a remedy to congestion is not only ineffective, but often counterproductive. This is also known as Lewis-Mogridge Position and was extensively documented by Martin Mogridge with the case-study of London on his book Travel in towns: jam yesterday, jam today and jam tomorrow?”

We’ll Discuss this more in depth later today…


miami traffic jam, originally uploaded by noway.

If the view above seems familiar, its probably because you’ve been sitting in traffic for 50 extra hours per year.

“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.”

Tagged with:
 

Harborcreek Mall, originally uploaded by maniwa_pa.

We often times refer to the automobile as the culprit behind much of our congestion and sprawling woes when perhaps we should attribute more of our attention simply to the amount of parking made available in our cities. Like cars, parking lots degrade our cities on two fronts: contributing to congestion (due to their “availability”) and adversely affecting our local climate change.

“The problem with parking lots is that they accumulate a lot of pollutants—oil, grease, heavy metals and sediment—that cannot be absorbed by the impervious surface,” Engel says. “Rain then flushes these contaminants into rivers and lakes.”

And we haven’t even begun discussing the “urban heat island” effect that parking lots contribute to, which can raise temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, according to Indiana state climatologist Dev Niyogi.

Tagged with:
 
A recent CBS4 “investigation” supports our claims that road expansion simply isn’t the solution to the traffic woes in our region. The report puts the new 836 west extension to the “test,” with two vehicles racing to a central meeting point on Bird Rd and SW 137th ave. The results were disappointing to those hoping that the extension would provide western suburbanites with a speedier alternative to the turnpike (you know, because of that exorbitant toll.) What the CBS4 report and many natives fail to understand is just how traffic, roadway expansions, and arterials interact with each other.

To simplify, think of traffic as a fluid (water) and roadways as pipes. The obvious is that when there is a clogged pipe (accident) no water can pass through. Easy enough, right? Now, many people assume that by creating a new path for the water (836 extension) water will be able to flow quickly along this new path. But, given the existing saturated nature of the current western routes (Tamiami Trail, Bird, Flagler, etc.) the new extension alleviates a certain amount of traffic from each corridor, providing no specific time difference impact to any single corridor. If too many cars choose to use the extension, then it too becomes saturated and proves to be just as ineffective as the alternate street routes. In then end, the whole system balances out and our overall personal gain is negligible. Plus don’t forget that any gains will be rendered useless once western expansion continues (you know, because of all that extra “capacity” we created) and more cars are found to fill in the gaps along each of the corridors… Good Luck!

Tagged with:
 
  • The Related Group of Florida is planning the Loft 4 Affordable Housing Condo for downtown Miami. The 404 units in the 35 story tower would be priced starting at $130,000! The best part yet? The building would feature no parking. Truly Urban Living is coming to the heart of the CBD for a change…
    • “If not for this type of concept, you wouldn’t be able to build because you can’t build parking” cost effectively, said Oscar Rodriguez, who heads Related’s affordable division. “That lends itself to more competitive pricing.”
  • Say goodbye to the HOV lanes on I-95. FDOT is working to bring “express” toll lanes to I-95 by 2008. Instead of the one HOV lane, the already gargantuan highway will be repainted to feature narrower 11 foot lanes, two of which will be designated for “express” toll use only. This plan allows users to buy themselves out of the hassles of finding people to carpool with. It’s a total cop out for FDOT and a massive waste of money. Never mind the fact that we wasted $17 Million to install a ramp metering system that was never used, let alone properly analyzed before it was installed. On the plus side, express buses will now run smoother along the corridor, question is, will anyone use them?
  • A US Senate committee rejected Homestead as a possible site for the US Southern Command HQ, currently stationed in Doral. SoCom will remain in Doral in an expanded facility for the next 50 years, at least…
  • Paddy Wagons and Cyclists, you know there is a critical mass happening when you see them together. Despite their best efforts, Miami’s second critical mass, wasn’t exactly too massive: 15 cyclists. Even with the low turnout, Miami Police decided to harass the cyclists, following their every move along the streets of downtown and keeping their beams on them until the group dispersed…
  • Inaccessible Parks. Enough Said. Most local parks are rendered useless to most of us anyway because of their poor designs, maintenance, and integration with their surroundings, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me to see that they aren’t even ADA accessible…
  • Check out what some properly designed bus benches, news stands, and restrooms do for the public spaces of NYC. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the same firm hired to design Miami’s new Science Museum, the new citywide structures are built out of 95% recycled material…
  • Congratulations to Alesh for winning the Miami New Times’ best website of 2007 and Rick/Alex for winning Broward/Palm Beaches Best Blog Awards…
  • HSR…Where is the US? Touting an Acela Express that averages less than 60 mph…Pathetic…

We’re Number 1! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a drive along the Palmetto, idle on the dolphin while people use exit lanes as strategic advancement lanes, or try to cross any intersection when your light turns green…
“Miami motorists said they saw other drivers slam on their brakes, run red lights and talk on cell phones, according to AutoVantage, a Connecticut-based automobile membership club offering travel services and roadside assistance.”

Let’s not forget: One finger salutes, driving on the shoulders in heavy traffic, illegal u-turns, cutting off, total disregard for traffic laws, pedestrians, traffic signals, or anything else which attempts to hamper “progress,” nanny-nanny Boo-Boo Faces, drag racing…am I missing anything?

Tagged with:
 
Before last Wednesday’s article in the Miami today, I was working on an article discussing the woes of the port of Miami container movement situation, which we’ll get to later. As many of you may know, a tunnel is in the works to connect the Port of Miami with I-395 via Watson Island, spanning the length of a mile beneath the Port’s main channel. The POM tunnel is a $1.2 Billion joint development project involving the FDOT, POM, MDX, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami. The project, in the works since the early 80’s, aims to remove some of the downtown congestion by directly connecting the port with the highway, no longer making it necessary for trucks and buses to traverse downtown streets. The idea isn’t half bad, considering the necessity which has evolved out of the downtown construction boom; however, I feel that we once again failed to properly evaluate all of our options, especially considering that it has been in the “works” for the better part of the past two, almost three decades. Take a few minutes and analyze the image below, found on the POM Tunnel project website and is presumably the same image our planners have been staring at for the past few years. There’s a striking port access option which, I fear, has been gravely overlooked:

Any guesses? I’ll be back with the second part of this article later today; the answer is certainly far simpler than the convoluted light barges up the Miami River option

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Tagged with:
 
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.