Currently viewing the tag: "Traffic"

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.”

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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!

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No Joke. I don’t think I could have concocted this story had I tried. I wish the Vatican had been a little more proactive, the “Ten Commandments of Living a Sustainable Life” would have worked just as well…

The Vatican’s Ten Commandments for drivers:

1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others.

Apparently, this list hasn’t gotten around to everyone in Miami…

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This extraordinary image posted at Skyscrapercity by James Good illustrates the need for revitalization for downtown’s premier park space. As well as how appropriate the location is for Museums with the Metromover stop already in place. The museums will be a great buffer for the park from the intrusive traffic of the highway beside the park. I am also interested in hearing thoughts from our readers regarding the somewhat sensitive issue of the need for, specifically, green park space.

Is it unfair to compare Miami to other cities in terms of green park space when across the causeway is the enormous public space, Miami Beach. I assure you I am a strong supporter for park space in Miami proper, but I feel there is an entirely different analysis required based on the unique quality of the beach. Being the single most obvious draw for all of South Florida residents, the beach almost creates a requirement of other city parks to include an attraction, if they are to be fully utilized. While some would propose a stadium or a waterpark, it seems that the museums are the perfect, compatible solution, in keeping with the desired qualities of a public green space.

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I’ve often defined the “Miami Mentality” on this site as the state of mind prevalent in our region which is generally for transit options, so long as other people use them. The Miami New Times quoted my “Miami Mentality” theory today when discussing the new MDT 7-day pass, which sadly means that my theory is becoming more of a commonly accepted belief. To clarify, through personal account and research, I’ve found that the Miami Mentality is generally against density, non-vehicular modes of transit, in favor of traffic relief measures, and in favor of wider highways and parking- plenty of it too. The Mentality also denounces good urban planning principles often by typically stating, or rather declaring: “That would never work in Miami.” Needless to say, it has taken me quite by surprise to see the latest coverage and reactions in the Sun-Sentinel with regards to the proposed managed lanes on I-95. Their news polls, obtained March 29 and April 4, show an overwhelmingly opposite trend to the Miami Mentality:

March 29 Some state legislators want to start charging tolls to use the car-pool (HOV) lanes on I-95 from I-595 in Broward County to State Road 112 in Miami-Dade County. What’s your opinion?

85.4%
Bad idea. These lanes should be available for free to anyone with 2 or more people in a vehicle. (5917 responses)

14.6%
Good idea. It would raise more funds for transportation and ensure the car-pool lanes don’t get too crowded. (1012 responses)
6929 total responses

April 4 State officials say I-595 could be widened much more quickly and less expensively by making it a privately operated road with tolls on its express lanes. Your opinion?

35.1%
Good idea. (1773 responses)

64.9%
Bad idea. (3278 responses)
5051 total responses

Or do they? Perhaps there are some valid reasons behind this shift in the frame of mind or perhaps the Miami Mentality is a little more convoluted than I originally perceived. I’ll choose the latter. Based on the data obtained through the unofficial polls taken by the Sun-Sentinel and in browsing through some of the comments left on the site, it appears that there is a new dimension to the Miami Mentality that I had not previously considered: Money.

“Forgive me for not being able to attend this oh-so important waste of time meeting, but here’s my vote by proxy- NO!!! What a $hitty idea- charge us for what we’ve already paid for? Screw these crooked politicians and their handouts to the contractors- enough is enough!”
-Count me Out, Hialeah, Fl

“The article is at least truthful. The public is invited to discuss the issue. The decision has already been made based soley upon financial reasons. Luxury car lanes have been discussed for years, now they will be a reality. Only in Florida. Guess the Republicans will call it no Lexus left behind.”
-Mike Woods, Boynton Beach, Fl

The views presented outline a general displeasure for paying for expanded highway service, it is expected that the government provide endless capacity and expansions to our already crowded highways. This belief stems from the precedent that the government set throughout the past decades, expanding and creating highway infrastructure “as needed.” The distrust in local policies and “leaders” further exacerbates the situation, casting shadows of doubt across any project where higher costs will be waged on motorists. Contrary to the logic behind congestion pricing, the opinions conveyed show that the new local mentality aims to provide highway and parking access to anyone (which falls in line with the reaction to rising gas prices.) (For more on Congestion Pricing, click here.)

I must also note that the subject matter does not pit public transit against highway capacity expansion. Surely, had that been the case, the results would have shown a desire for rail, provided that others use the system and now apparently that money allocated to the project did not come from highway funding sources (it’s ok folks, there are statutes against that anyway.)

Of course some classic Miami Mentality always finds its way into the picture:

“Maximum use of all lanes is the most efficient use of roads. Car pool lanes do not do that. The “Pay Pool” lanes are only a way for the politicians to get more money without representation. Another non-tax tax. On top of all this Interstate roads are supposed to be free. This is not a state road it is a federal road.”
-just say no, Miami, Fl

“Forget the tolls. Eliminate the HOV lane by opening it up to all drivers. That will increse the available road space by 20 - 25 percent. As an added benefit …no more slow downs caused by drivers gawking at the flashing lights while FHP writes tickets (they have better things to do). It’s a win win deal for both tax payers and drivers, costs nothing and can be put into effect at any time.”
-David, Pompano Beach, Fl

I’m so glad David took the time to do the math for us, he neglected to include how many minutes it would take for for traffic to fill up the additional lane and bring traffic back to a grinding halt (Induced Travel.) Miami Mentality obviously fails to take into account general highway planning principles, is shortsighted, does not recognize the limitations of an autocentric infrastructure, and never considers perhaps that the current method of personal travel and lifestyle are the true problems at hand.

Reassuringly, every so often, a voice of reason chimes in:

“the reason for the carpool lane is to encourage drivers to carpool and take cars off the roads. what they should be doing is expanding the number of car pool lanes to 2 or 3 each way and then maybe more people would carpool.”
-John, Santa Maria, Ca

But, then again, let the few voices of reason come from a city clear across the country

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In an article today in the Herald, Flagler County (emphasis on City of Palm Coast), is touted as the fastest growing county in the United States. Whenever I hear “fastest growing city/county” in the United States, as if that implies a fantastic place to live, I am always skeptical, especially given the deplorable planning history of fast-growing places in this country. Upon hearing that, I usually think of places like Las Vegas, Southwest Florida, and the Atlanta exurbs.

What I found interesting, is that the author (and inevitably the hostile commenters) took an angle that emphasized the emigration of South Floridians to the Palm Coast area, even stating:

“Driving a chunk of Flagler’s growth: a couple thousand South Floridians. Some say they left to escape congested roads, confining cookie-cutter developments, and skyrocketing home prices”.

Yeah, yeah. I hear it all the time - “I can’t wait to leave Miami (usually lumping it with all of Dade/South Florida)”. Jeer the overdevelopment, traffic congestion, high home prices, high insurance, overcrowded schools, blase blase. So let’s move upstate to this smaller county where everything is just peachy? Not so fast my friend.

Let’s break Palm Coast down for what it really is/will be:

If you examine it from satellite (above), you’ll notice that nearly every subdivision neighborhood is comprised of scatter grids with poor connectivity. This means almost all traffic from each subdivision neighborhood will be dumped onto a handful of collector roads (e.g. Palm Coast Pkwy, Belle Terre Pkwy, etc). As this city grows, these roads will quickly become overwhelmed with traffic. Inevitably, officials will move to widen the arterials into de-facto highways, with at least three lanes each direction along with 40-45 MPH speed limits, long traffic light headways, and huge intersections. Due to the auto-centric nature of these roads, sidewalks will be small (if they even exist), awkward, and useless because pedestrians will have to cross large surface parking lots to get to cookie-cutter shopping centers.

They probably wouldn’t walk in the first place, because even though their home may be in close proximity to where they want to go, the lack of thru-streets and presence of tangible subdivision boundaries will force the pedestrian to go way out of their way just to reach the arterial (as seen above). Biking wouldn’t be much of an option, either, because of the same reasons above plus the fact that riding on these arterials will be very dangerous (if not illegal).

To add fuel to the fire, Palm Coast has an extremely low average population density of only 862/square mile. This, in conjunction with single-use zoning, creates very large distances between places, making driving everywhere (even for the most basic trips) practically a necessity. Subsequently, officials write into the city code massive parking requirements for all land uses, further inducing trips by automobiles and justifying driving everywhere. At this point, most people become much more concerned with their private property then the lifeless public spaces afforded by such an environment, so things like golf courses get built instead of public parks.

Soon enough, this area will run out of land to accommodate population growth because for years unnecessarily large building footprints have been used during the current boom. Combined with the geographic location, property values will shoot up fast (already have, to some degree), traffic congestion will increase, commute times will increase, and people will really be screwed as gas prices inevitably continue to rise. Schools will probably be overcrowded (already mentioned in the article), crime will probably increase due to a variety of reasons, property insurance will be sky high, and soon people will be citing all the same reasons they left South Florida (insert other sprawl town here) in the first place.

Sorry, there’s no chance in hell I would endorse this place, let alone move there. It is about as unsustainable as any city I’ve ever seen, and a classic example very poor urban planning.

I think it’s funny that people are already complaining about problems stemming from the area’s recent growth. If growth there continues along this paradigm, the problems will only get worse.

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Boca Raton Residents are calling for the replacement of Tri-Rail tracks at a couple of intersections along the corridor… To make Tri-Rail a better commuting option you ask? Nope, so that their drive across the tracks won’t be as bumpy… Watch the video for yourself…

An article in the Herald today brings to light a very serious issue that has significant consequences for Miami-Dade’s future. According to insiders and the Herald, it is looking like the recommendations from the South Miami-Dade Watershed Study and Plan, which include holding the Urban Development Boundary and encouraging most development along the US-1 corridor to stop further sprawl, may be ignored by officials who either think they are experts or who just don’t care about anyone but themselves.

Vice-Chairman Dennis Moss was quoted, “It’s not an easy situation and folks are not going to give in in terms of their philosophies”.

Here’s a philosophy: We’re all screwed if the recommendations from the watershed study are ignored. Why? According to the study:

  • The South Miami-Dade Watershed region is expected to nearly double in population by 2050, going from 791,000 in 2000 to approximately 1, 500,000 in 2050.
  • The Watershed cannot continue to grow as expected without substantial consequences to its water and natural resources, quality of life, and community characteristics
  • The Watershed Plan calls for a Smart Growth (which we’ve preached for over a year ad nauseam) approach to accommodating future population growth; however, if the the alternative (sprawl or current) approach continues the watershed area will negatively and irreversibly be changed
  • The waters of Biscayne Bay will be subject to substantial increases in water pollution
  • 3/4 of our agricultural areas will be lost to sprawling, low-density residential subdivisions
  • Traffic congestion will increase significantly
  • The effectiveness of the $8 billion Everglades restoration program will be greatly reduced
  • It is estimated that the “sprawl scenario” will cost nearly $8 billion more for infrastructure than the recommended Watershed Plan between now and 2050, which does not even include substantial environmental costs (who’s going to be funding most of this unnecessary, unsustainable infrastructure? Mostly taxpayers.)
As you can see, the alternative to the Watershed Plan is wholly unsustainable. How could any politician unequivocally dismiss such an obvious and significant plan to accommodate future growth? Look no further than our County Commission and the Governmental Operations and Environment Committee (GOEC), chaired by none other than sprawl-champion Natacha Seijas.

Seijas, easily the worst of all the county commissioners (and that is really saying something), who is lucky to even have a job after threatening a fellow commissioner’s life during session in the County Chambers, is leading the charge to foil implementation of the watershed study. It shouldn’t be of much surprise to citizens, given that she is profoundly connected to developers and pro-sprawl interests as evidenced by her consistent voting record to move the UDB line and quotes like “I don’t see why we need to be creating an environment for them (Manatees) to continue”.

Her opposition is significant because she is the chairwoman for the GOEC, which oversees urban growth policies and monitors the utilization of our natural resources. What’s she saying?

“I don’t think this study should be used to do anything (involving major land-use decisions)”.

OK, so nearly $4 million, six years of research, and perhaps the future of our region may be down the drain if she gets her way. Some Commissioners are talking about potentially adopting some aspects of the Plan but ignoring the land-use aspects. Duh. It doesn’t work like that. ALL OF THESE ASPECTS ARE INTERCONNECTED.

This is the type of business that makes my blood pressure boil because the incompetence and special interest pandering is so blatantly obvious, shameless, and completely detrimental to the area’s future. This is the same type of incompetence and slipshod politics that has sadly become standard practice for many of our elected officials. It has become obvious that expert opinion, research, and administrative work are almost entirely irrelevant in this county, because our elected officials instead use their own pet theories, intuition, and self-interest to make decisions that will negatively affect the area for many generations to come. Frankly, it is not only unprofessional, but completely embarrassing.

For those of you that didn’t know, today was national boycott gas stations day, an ill-conceived plan to deal a financial blow to the oil industry for the steady increase in gas prices. Let me begin by clearly stating why this will not work: America is addicted to oil, if we don’t buy it today we’ll buy it tomorrow; the only truly effective way to enact change and really impact the finances of the oil industry would be to change our lifestyles and dependency on the substance. What am I talking about? Bikes, Buses, Rail Transit, and your own two legs are some of our alternatives. A real blow to the gas industry would be a reversal in the American mindset, a change in our style of planning (or lack thereof,) and an immense amount of money invested in our national infrastructure; all of which I can’t foresee evolving in our immediate future.

National boycott gas stations day was a short-sighted band-aide-like attempt to solve one of our most critical national problems. I say band-aide because like many of our “solutions” if failed to adequately address the real underlying issue (like the solutions for the “property insurance crisis,” but I’ll touch on that subject at a later point), instead the boycott focused on the rising cost of oil and its effect on our economy rather than concentrating on our addiction to a limited natural resource and viable alternatives to keep our economy vibrant and people mobile.

We’re too focused on the rising cost of gas and its effect on our pocketbook to realize that we’ve dug ourselves an enormous suburban grave. Many of our neighborhoods are un-navigable to anything but vehicles, often missing sidewalks in some of the newer communities in west-Dade. Should gas prices rise sharply further beyond the affordable realm for many, the effects of our unchecked, unplanned growth will place a greater economic strain on our lives as we search for yet another quick fix to our mess…Someone better call J&J quick, because we’re going to need some more Band-aides

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Alright, I know it’s long overdue but here is my awaited and (hopefully) anticipated part 3 to my most recent walk through downtown:

I continued my walk into the CBD with this view of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. I’ve posted this picture below to not only show the hideous temporary fencing that has been surrounding the courthouse for the better part of the past couple of years, but to also show the actual picture I was taking when the first of two interesting events occurred this afternoon.

As I crossed the street after taking this picture, a subject caught crossing the street in the photograph was patiently waiting for me on the north side of Flagler (Where’s Waldo?) Now, allow me to pause a second to describe this character. I’m no stylist but, I’m conscious enough to realize that she was wearing far too many layers of makeup under Jackie-o sunglasses. She was also wearing dark leggings under open-toed shoes, far out of the ordinary even for the cast of characters which typically roam along our downtown streets. My conversation with the deranged lady (DL) went as follows after she flagged me down and pulled me out of my own tranquil universe:

GJL: Yes, may I help you?

DL: Do you work for the government?

GJL: No…

DL: Do you work for a private company?

GJL: Um, Yeah.

DL: Why did you take a picture of me?

GJL: Excuse me?

DL: Why did you take a picture of me just now as I crossed the street?

GJL: In case you didn’t notice ma’am, you were standing in front of one our downtown’s most prominent and historic structures.

DL: I saw you! You took a picture of me and I want to know why!

GJL: Okay, you’re crazy and I’m walking away now…

I proceeded north further into the courthouse district with my ipod and in search of further urban opportunity. As I glanced back I witnessed my new friend darting from empty police car to empty police car before she decided to follow me. I turned west to get a shot of a “Your Tax Dollars at Waste sign” as she continued following me. Lucky for us, there was an occupied police car between me and her, where she was able to pause and discuss my alleged paparazzi activity (which would have been completely legal, in any case.) Obviously nothing came of her police inquiry as I walked by the squad car and received a wave and almost apologetic smirk from the officer…

I trudged on North towards the courthouse complex and MDC and into the scene of my next extremely odd encounter. Along the way I saw further reminders of the second largest diamond district in the United States. The r&r Jewlery Center is housed in the former downtown post office, was built in 1912 and was the first major federal building to rise in Miami.

You just don’t encounter unique ornamentation like this anymore. There are few buildings which even attempt to add adequate ornamentation, let alone art in public places.

I came across a stunning building in the CBD. I’ve read about it the downtown development authority’s historical walking guide to downtown, but I forgot who it was owned by and when it was built. I’d like to note however, the covered portico, the ground level retail, the sense of some human-oriented planning. The building was obviously designed at a time when pedestrians were still kept in mind and should serve as a model for our future urban infill considering it adequately addressed the pedestrian needs given our hot and often rainy climate.

I continued on towards the federal courthouses and MDC campus. After reading William Whyte’s Project for Public Places, I was anxious to experience the public places established in our federal courthouse complex and major downtown educational facility. The interaction between the federal courthouses and the street is awkward and downright hostile to pedestrians. A large “temporary” concrete barrier keeps cars (and pedestrians) far enough away from the surroundings and the barren concrete plaza of MDC depicts accurately how successful our urban plaza planning has been.

Standing on the sidewalk (public property) from the MDC side of the street (Public School,) I proceeded to take the pictures depicted above. As I happily snapped away, still listening to my ipod, a couple of rent-a-cops from across the street on the federal courthouse began to flail their arms at me frantically. As I removed my earphones they were yelling to stop taking pictures of the federal courthouse. Now, this happened to me once before about two years ago, so I had an eerie feeling that things hadn’t changed since. I was with some visiting family walking around the CBD, snapping pictures of the newly rising federal complex, when we were apprehended by the same rent-a-cop currently yelling at me. That time however, he stepped out of line and reached for my younger cousin’s camera, prompting near chaos because of his inadequate training and general concept of what is truly legal. In any case, knowing I was within my full right to continue photographing the public complex, I continued snapping away, including this picture of the so called security:

I continued my walking tour heading east on the metromover to experience the Biscayne boulevard realignment project.

I continued walking west along NE 5th street, witnessing the absurd amount of shipping container traffic when I was nearly run over by what originally appeared to be an undercover police officer. As I disclosed earlier, it ended up being a US Marshall, apparently sent to find the rogue kid walking around in shorts taking pictures of downtown buildings. Our conversation went something like this, with my thoughts in parenthesis:

GJL: Good Afternoon, I’m Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal of TransitMiami.com, what can I help you with today?

USM: Hey, how’s it going? I’m US Marshall (name omitted out of personal courtesy.) Were you just over by the federal courthouse taking pictures?

GJL: Yes, I was and as far as I know that isn’t a violation of any current or past US laws.

USM: Oh, no, not at all sir. We just like to know who everyone is taking pictures around the federal courthouse.

GJL: Speaking of that, I see your undercover car and gun, but may I see some credentials to verify that you are who you say you are, you can never be too sure in today’s world.

USM: Sure. (Show’s US Marshall Badge and ID Card)

USM: May I see your Drivers’ License to verify your name? What was the name of your website again?

GJL: Sure. (Provide him with my ID) Transitmiami.com… Check it out, the pictures I took will be up there soon…Now, as far as I know, I’m within every right standing on the public sidewalk to photograph my surroundings, correct?

USM: Correct. You just have to understand sir in this new state of security (insecurity) in the United States; we can never be too secure. Just the other day, we had someone taking counter-surveillance shots of our prisoner movements (Buuuuuuuullshit) from the metrorail platform.

GJL: Oh, I understand sir. I guess it may be a matter of national security (insecurity) to chase down people who snap pictures of the federal complex. Is this a common occurrence for the US Marshall to chase down tourists in the CBD for taking pictures?

(I then realized the US Marshall was writing my driver’s license down on a pad of paper, something which I never gave him permission to do considering he never asked to write it down. I was naturally offended because he asked for my ID to write down my name but then violated my confidence in his ability to obtain only the information he had asked for.)

USM: Well it happens often enough…

GJL: Excuse me officer, but I don’t believe it is necessary for you to write down my License number as well as my name, we have both determined that I was within every right to take pictures. I provided you with my ID and granted you permission to jot down my name and would have gladly obliged to give you my license number had you asked…

USM: Oh, don’t worry sir; you aren’t in any trouble…

GJL: I’m fully aware I’m not, we both clarified that no law was broken (you, just plan on running a background check on me…)

USM: Thank you very much for your time sir. Have a nice day and enjoy your stay here in Miami

Lovely. I couldn’t possibly imagine that I would have been apprehended by a US Marshall in the downtown of my own city for taking some innocent pictures with a point and shoot digital camera. I bit my tongue and chose to not point it out to the US Marshall that from the comfort of my own home I or anyone else can obtain aerial images of the complex by navigating through Google Earth or Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. Imagine the mayhem that would be caused if such extreme measures were taken around the federal buildings of NYC, Washington DC, or any other major US city. It’s just another example of a mental lapse on the part of the local rent-a-cop authority hired to protect the federal complex from reasonable threats…

Lucky for me my encounter wasn’t with a city of Miami police officer, officers who have been known to violate the first amendment rights of photographers standing on public sidewalks and not obstructing justice. Unlike Carlos Miller, whose trial began today, I was lucky enough to not have been pummeled to the ground for no apparent reason…

Disgruntled enough I continued my tour north into the omni complex, which will appear in the conclusion and part 4 of this series…

I decided to post Steven’s excellent recap of yesterday’s meeting regarding transit along the Kendall corridor. I’m glad someone was able to attend to share this with us:

I was able to attend the meeting tonight at the “Kendall Village” location. First and foremost, I would like to say that the location is a bleak reminder to what we need to avoid in planning. It is essentially a big mall that is offset from the main roadway and is a huge waste of space. As I walked through the area I couldn’t help but wonder how much different the place would be had there been another level or two with low cost apartments rather than the community-like environment they were trying to achieve by putting roads through the middle of the mall.

Anyways, on to the meeting!
The room was surrounded by pictures depicting different various transit alternatives ranging from BRT to Heavy Rail to DMUs. Next to the large pictures of these different transit technologies were maps depicting route alternatives with charts depicting cost vs. ridership predictions vs. effect on traffic. Additionally there was a table where they were showing traffic analysis of the Kendall area should the alternatives actually be constructed. We were also able to talk with the different planners about the different portions of the projects.

The actual meeting portion started with a representative of the project speaking to the group about where in the stages of development they were (presently in the alternatives analysis part). The different alignments were as they are presented on the website and are listed as follows:

East-West
1. Exclusive Right-of-way BRT down the middle of Kendall Drive from US1 to Krome Ave.
2. Metrorail or Heavy Rail down the middle of Kendall Drive from US1 to around 152nd Ave.
3. Exclusive Right-of-way BRT from Dadeland North Metrorail down SR 874 to Kendall and then out west to Krome Ave.
North-South
1. Heavy Rail or Metrorail extension from FIU to 152nd Street
2. BRT running from FIU down Coral Way to 137th Ave and then south to 152nd Street
Alternate
1. CSX alignment running DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units) from MIC to Metrozoo
2. CSX alignment running DMUs from MIC to Tamiami Airport

The main differences between the CSX alignments are where stations would be placed and how frequently trains would run and if double tracking would be an option.

The floor was then handed over to another member of the planning team who discussed traffic concerns. During his presentation, many interruptions took place in the form of audience members questioning what was being presented. Such things sparking debate and uproar from the crowd was the amount of time that a gate effects traffic flow being only 45 seconds. Additionally, on a model they produced based on actual traffic numbers, several members of the crowd spoke in disbelief that the numbers were accurate. Prior to the completion of the presentation and opening of the floor to questions, someone in the audience interrupted repeatedly asking what percentage of the people in the area would benefit from the construction of a heavy rail alternative.

When the floor was opened to questions, a group of citizens had claimed a 9 minute block of time to present on how they were displeased with the CSX alternative and how it would be inappropriate. Their presentation was fair and well produced. Unfortunately what followed the three person presentation was more complaining about the CSX corridor and how it would keep people awake at night as well as block traffic among other things. Very little was said about Metrorail, but some were obviously for it while others were clearly against it. One woman said that the only way that she would support it coming down Kendall is if she were compensated for it obstructing her view.

The people complaining about the CSX issue pretty much dominated the entire meeting from the middle of presentations all the way to the very end. One threatened a class-action lawsuit should it be considered in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Many called for the heads of the planners and made claims that they were incompetent and unprepared for the meeting, in spite of the fact that we are in the alternatives analysis phase and alignments are only now starting to be considered.

I figured the CSX issue would dominate the conversation, seeing that a) people here are against any at-grade rail options because it would further hamper their vehicular commute and b) there are far too many houses built along the rail corridor, another example of planning gone amiss. Lucky for us, Florida Law prohibits any sort of compensation requirement for “blocked views.”

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I took some time out of my weekend to give a Miami Native a first-time tour of Vizcaya. I often find that many Miamians have never ventured into Vizcaya, so I always volunteer to visit Miami’s most beautiful estate and give them my own personal tour. I was also interested in capturing some photographs of the view from the estate which soon may forever be altered if the City of Miami approves 300 Grove Bay residences, a project by The Related group, slated for a section of land just south of Mercy Hospital.
Personally, I’d have to agree that the buildings are out of context with their surroundings, but then again so are Mercy Hospital and the Grove Isle trio of towers. The traffic impact has likely been grossly miscalculated seeing that this is the equivalent of placing a skyscraper in suburbia, the only reasonable link between it and the surroundings will be vehicular. As for the visual impact, I think Vizcaya’s views will be pretty much unhampered. Mercy Hospital is currently visible from the grounds, as are the buildings on Brickell and Key Biscayne and yet they don’t seem to adversely impact the tranquility of the Gardens.
Since the last time I wrote on the Mercy Project, I still haven’t been able to come up with an valid enough stance either in favor or against the project. I lean against the project mainly because it continues the decentralization of skyscrapers that is so prevalent in Miami. Ultimately, I believe the towers would be better suited elsewhere, either north in the Brickell area or south in the Coconut Grove Business district, rather than in the Mercy site where they will forever be relegated as suburban towers only accessible by vehicles and disjointed from the bustling hubs to the north and south…

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While plans move forward to expand I-595 in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin County commissioners are working on a plan to bring east-west Tri-rail service along the beeline expressway. The commissioners hope to one day use the existing CSX rail tracks to link research and biomedical facilities in the works in both counties. Unlike their Broward counterparts, these commissioners see the financial advantage of not widening roads and instead using our money wisely:

“Koons estimated that widening the road to accommodate development could cost $1 billion…”

“Many of those developments are running into traffic concerns because parts of SR 710 are getting congested. Future development could be prohibited if the highway isn’t widened. Using commuter rail could reduce the need for widening, Koons said, and help solve affordable housing problems.

“You can afford more housing if you have to spend less on transit,” he said.”

Nice to know someone sees it…

Alright, It’s about time we got back on Track with some Transit News:
  • Transit Miami is now regularly featured as part of the Planetizen Radar. To access the radar, there is a link in the blog technology section of the sidebar on the lower right hand side.
  • It some how slipped passed me, but our sly commissioners approved a plan to build 940 homes west of Florida City. The project aims to encroach on the Everglades further, induce further sprawl, and build useless homes which are completely nonfunctional to the working class of Miami. The project claims it will be building “work force housing” priced from $160,000 to $220,000 yet it will be situated far from business centers, public transit, public health and education infrastructure, and other necessary functions typically found near true affordable housing development. So far the only people this project has been affordable for are the developers, which likely purchased the land at reduced costs…Good luck with the daily traffic…
  • Jeffrey Bradley, a Transit Miami reader and supporter and member of the Alliance for Reliable Transport has started a new blog: Bus Stop. Bus Stop will cover “All things Transit on the Beach and Beyond.”
  • Next time your looking to take a cruise, skip out on the Royal Caribbean or Carnival and hop aboard a freighter. Yes you read correctly, apparently its a growing trend to ride along with Maersk and Sea Land Containers in near isolation…

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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

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