Tomorrow, on Thursday, June 13, the City of Miami City Commission will consider Resolution #13-00581.
This resolution would formalize the transfer of virtually all of downtown Miami’s Brickell Avenue from the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to the jurisdiction of the City of Miami.
Think about that: Brickell Avenue. It’s the core of our financial business district and a burgeoning residential and commercial area.
One wonders why FDOT ever had control of one of our city’s most important thoroughfares in the first place.
It’s great news. Our city’s streets belong in the hands of our own local municipalities. They don’t belong in the hands of techno-bureaucrats up in Tallahassee, nor in any other one of FDOT’s just-as-detached satellite offices.
While far from perfect, our local public officials and planners are more sensitive to the day-to-day realities on our streets; they are more aware of land-use dynamics and current and pending real estate developments; they are more conscious of existing long-range and master planning documents (including plans for special districts, public transit corridors, bicycles and greenways, waterfronts, ecologically-sensitive areas, etc.); they typically have deeper, more productive working relationships with other locally-based jurisdictions; they better understand the on-the-ground interplay of bicycle, pedestrian, and motor traffic; they are more sincerely invested in the well-being of the local community of which they themselves are a part; and, most importantly, our local planners and politicians are comparatively far more accessible and accountable to us, the people to whom the streets belong.
So all is well in the Magic City, right? FDOT is beginning to realize that its role in 21st century Miami is growing smaller and smaller and we’re more than capable of running our own streets.
The state transportation juggernaut is starting to return our city streets to the local government authorities because it’s reached the undeniable conclusion that local municipalities and counties can run their own streets better than some gigantic, geographically-disconnected government bureaucracy . . . right?
In exchange for relinquishing Brickell Avenue to the City (where it belongs), FDOT wants something — quite a lot, actually — in return. Specifically, FDOT wants several streets running through the Downtown Miami Historic District (see the table below).
In total, FDOT is trying to take 2.4 center lane miles from the City of Miami in exchange for about 1.9 center lane miles.
(A “center lane mile” is the length of the actual road, from point A to point B. A standard “lane mile” takes into account the number of lanes on that same stretch from point A to point B.)
FDOT wants to take = 2.40 miles
FDOT wants to give = 1.92 miles
Thus, not only is FDOT pursuing streets it really has no right to and should have no interest in to begin with, but it’s actually trying to take more street length from the City than it is offering!
The City Commission will be voting on this around 2:00pm on Thursday, June 13.
Mr. Mayor and City Commissioners: Take what belongs to the people of the City of Miami. Bring Brickell Avenue under our local jurisdiction.
But do not, under any circumstances, forfeit those streets in the Historic Downtown District to the State.
FDOT should give = 1.92 miles
City of Miami should give = 0.00 miles
The real question is: Why does FDOT want control of our local streets to begin with?
We were fortunate to learn of this late last week, when The New Times published it’s Best of Miami preview, which just happened to highlight the winner of the best blog category only: TransitMiami!
Our fearless leader and slave-master, TransitMiami founder and editor-in-chief, Gabriel Lopez-Bernal, wrote a piece evoking in all of us lowly contributors a spurt of happiness and pride for what he claims to be “volunteer” work (before immediately whipping us back to our unpaid servitude!).
We’re also smitten with what The Miami New Times had to say about us too:
In most towns, a blog about transportation would be a snore, but this is Miami. Our shared frustration over the simple task of getting from point A to point B makes our blood boil and unites us all in common ire, for our inane transport system might be the single biggest hurdle preventing the Magic City from becoming a truly world-class town.
Surprisingly, it’s an issue that often finds itself on the back burner among Miami’s media. Thankfully there’s Transit Miami, which has been churning out posts on everything from crosswalks to major Department of Transportation projects since 2006. It’s transportation-activist talk made accessible to the average man, and its multiple contributors take into account the perspectives of everyone from drivers to pedestrians.
In a world where blogging is now dominated by the need for traffic (the profitable web variety), it’s nice to know there’s a blog out there more interested in vehicular traffic.
This sort of recognition reinvigorates our efforts and reminds us of our reason for existing in the first place.
With — and only with — your continued readership and support, we’ll strive to continue fighting the good fight and writing the good write! The future of our beloved community depends on it.
Truly, thanks again, Miami!
Miami is undergoing one of the most magnificent metamorphoses in its history.
One of the impetuses of this transformation is the Florida East Coast Industries’ (FECI) corridor project called All Aboard Florida. The project will link Miami and Southeast Florida to Orlando and Central Florida.
It’s a very big deal.
The fine folks at All Aboard Florida have been kind enough to share with TransitMiami a good aerial view of its 9-acre holdings in the west-central part of our downtown, that drab, de facto government-institutional land-use district in serious need of some transit-oriented development.
We’re hoping the development of the downtown train station — the tentatively named “Miami Grand Central Station” — might just do the trick for this lifeless, barren sea-of-asphalt section of downtown.
All Aboard Florida passed through its first evaluation gauntlet by receiving a formal “Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)” from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). According to our contacts over at All Aboard, the project is “still in the environmental process for the entire corridor”.
Things are a-changin’!
On that note, a few weeks back, we here at TransitMiami encouraged you to support the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s effort to have a multi-use trail added to the planned railway. While the official window for public commentary has closed, we’d still like to hear your thoughts!
Cast your vote in the poll below!
Are Miami’s proliferating pedestrian overpasses transforming the city into a hamster’s paradise?Cities should be built for people, not cars. It’s an irrefutable, almost cliché maxim that still, despite the seeming consensus around the notion, somehow gets lost in the city design and development process.
Greater Miami is a city whose incipient design and development occurred during the apex of the automobile era, an era which is slowly, but surely, dissipating. Our city’s auto-centric legacy thus predisposes planners and engineers to maintain that eroding model of spatial form and function.
The underlying fallacy comes from their failure to recognize the dynamism moving through the city, the revolutionary societal forces changing the way Miamians and metro-dwellers across the planet wish to live in, and interact with, their urban habitats.
Rather, these designers of dystopia look to the increasingly obsolete conditions of the past and — instead of embracing the change around them with innovative design solutions — seek to merely perpetuate the already expired status quo.
To our collective detriment, this status quo expresses itself with bipedal human beings relegated to the bottom of the mobility food chain. In Miami, and with a bit of irony, this demotion often manifests itself upward, where people wishing to get around on their own two feet are forced to ascend up to and move through so-called pedestrian overpasses.
In essence, though, these overpasses are really nothing short of hamster tunnels designed to accommodate and un-impede the movement of cars at the expense of people.
These overpasses reify the misguided mid-20th century notion that the automobile reigns supreme. All other modes of transport must make way for, and bow their heads to, the tyrannical king of the road.
Through these pedestrian overpasses, the built environment is effectively screaming at people who choose to use their own energy to get around the city: Step aside, petty pedestrians! Out of the way, bumbling bicyclists! The automobile is coming through!
These are not the messages we should be physically inscribing into the nature of our city. This is not the infrastructure needed to support a socially, economically, and ecologically thriving urban geography.
As our children and grandchildren inherit from us this little bit of Earth called Miami, they’ll be far more grateful to gain a livable place where they can enjoy the pleasures of the city on their own two feet at the ground level, rather than surrendering to the oppression of the automobile by scurrying through elevated mazes and tunnels.
You want to keep the streets safe for pedestrians? There’s only one real solution: Make the streets safe for pedestrians!
Be on the look-out for a follow-up article where TransitMiami looks at some of the broader social implications of building the proposed pedestrian overpass at US-1 and Mariposa in Coral Gables. Also, be sure to read TransitMiami’s previous piece on that particular proposal, written by TM writer and professional architect Jennifer Garcia.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. This particular photo speaks to the state of pedestrian safety in Miami — beat-up and run-down!
According to Keith Lawler, the Brickell denizen who submitted this photo, this well-intended, yet seemingly ineffective, pedestrian safety signage is now, as of May 29, gone completely . . .
Something’s got to give . . .
As we described back in December 2012, the three models are:
Each comes with its own distinctive livery. (Note that there’s also a variant, predominantly yellow, livery for the “RING” model that can be seen in the original post.)
We also want to bring your attention to AnsaldoBredo’s spiffy little 3-minute computer-animated video giving a cordial (albeit far from riveting) view of how these potential new train cars might look on the inside.
SHIELD is the train model featured in the video . . . Have a look! Share your thoughts!
Multiple facets of our community are abuzz with transportation- and mobility-related talk.
Now we’ve got yet another transportation-/mobility-related event scheduled for a week after the summit, on June 12. It seems the transportation debate in greater Miami is really heating up . . .
The Good Government Initiative (GGI) at the University of Miami is hosting a luncheon called “Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for 21st Century“.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
11:30am - registration | 12:00pm — lunch | 12:30pm — conversation
Northern Trust | 700 Brickell Avenue | Miami, Florida 33131
For your Average-José, there’s some good news and bad news. It’s always best to serve the bad news first:
Bad News: This is NOT a free event, which is something that would generally, under most circumstances, discourage me from posting here on TransitMiami. There’s an elaborate fee schedule for various types of groups:
- $35 — Individual Ticket (standard/default)
- $30 — GGI Member
- $50 — GGI Contributor (Individual Ticket + $15 donation)
- $500 — Sponsor Table for 10
- $20 — Student / Concerned Citizen
Good News: The Good Government Initiative has graciously agreed to offer readers of TransitMiami a special registration discount of $5, hence the reason it’s being posted. Thank you Good Government Initiative — sincerely!
That’s right! Just as you always hoped and knew it would, your TransitMiami readership is finally beginning to pay off! To get your crisp Abraham Lincoln knocked-off the registration price, be sure to enter the following promo code into the electronic form when registering as a “Student / Concerned Citizen” ($20): TRANSITMIAMI .
After the $5 discount, that $15 bucks will cover your lunch (hey, lunch!) and presence at the discussion. Note: the actual level of participation permitted by the public in this “discussion” is to yet to be determined/witnessed. . . . Read on for the justification of my admittedly skeptical disposition . . .
The more ambiguous news — toward which you should be correspondingly ambivalent — is that an event titled “Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for 21st Century” is featuring the Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), Mr. Javier Rodriguez, as one of its main speakers (?!).
Let’s be clear here: TransitMiami has absolutely nothing against Mr. Rodriguez on a personal level.
Professionally, though, we do take issue with the agency whose reins he controls: MDX.
Around here, MDX holds the un-honorably earned reputation of being one of the main progenitors of suburban sprawl and endless highway construction. It’s these forces that underlie congestion and diminish quality of life in our community. MDX is a tenacious antagonist of true urban mobility in the Miami of the 21st century.
So, please understand that our dissemination of this event comes with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism, probably even an unfortunate hint of cynicism too.
On the other hand, though, there’s also going to be representation by some organizations whose missions and and on-the-ground operations actually reflect the pursuit of our community’s well-being.
Other speakers include the likes of former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Ms. Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of The Good Government Initiative, as well as people like Ms. Anamarie Garces de Marcilla, Executive Director of Urban Health Solutions and current chair of the Consortium for Healthier Miami-Dade’s Health & Built Environment Committee.
[***Full disclosure: this author serves on, and is a supporter of, that volunteer committee.***]
Other anticipated speakers include Mr. Joe Giulietti, Executive Director, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (the agency which manages Tri-Rail) and Mr. Mark Lesniak, Executive Director of Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association.
So, if you have the time and the $15 bucks to spare for lunch where people will be talking about transportation and mobility, go for it! And don’t forget to tell them that TransitMiami sent you with that promo code.
Let’s just hope that after sharing all of these critical — but well-intentioned — sentiments, the kind folks from GGI still uphold their $5 discount to TransitMiami readers! After years of your blood, sweat, and tears, TM readers, you definitely deserve it!
Wednesday, May 29 — 6:00pm
Avenue D Jazz and Blues Lounge
8 S. Miami Avenue
[Avenue D is another relatively new downtown bar/lounge representing bar owners’ understanding of TOD better than politicians. By far the best way to get there is via the Metromover. Just get off at the Miami Avenue station using the northwest stairway. Avenue D is immediately below the station.]
A panel of of transportation planners and advocates will be on-hand to moderate and stimulate the discussion, including Kelly Cooper, Strategic Planner at the Miami-Dade County Office of the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT), the primary entity organizing the Summit. At least one official Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) should be present too.
One can also expect to hear commentary from Marta Viciedo, primary organizer of the successful Purple Line | U + Transit pop-up transit station which recently attracted a lot of attention to our community’s public transportation lacuna. A representative from the Move Miami-Dade transportation reform initiative, a project of TransitMiami alumnus Tony Garcia should also be present.
We confess that here at TransitMiami we very rarely provide reminders for the many events we post. Here’s one posted a couple weeks back that especially warrants a reminder. Save the date: June 6!!!
To register for the event, please visit the registration website at:
The Summit is scheduled to take place at:
Miami-Dade College - Wolfson Campus
Chapman Conference Center 3210
300 NE 2 Ave
Miami FL 33132-2296
There are going to be four break-out sessions in total, with attendees having to choose between one of two topics for the morning and the afternoon sessions. The two morning topics participants have to choose from are as follows (taken directly from the registration website):
Morning Session Topics
Morning Session A: Innovative Financing Opportunities: Transportation projects utilize a wide variety of revenue and funding from federal, state, local, and private sources. With funding for planning and projects becoming increasingly tighter, transportation agencies are employing innovative strategies to finance capital costs.
Morning Session B: State-of-the-Art Transit Technologies and Mode Choice: A key transportation issue for our community is weighing the trade-offs among the various fixed route alternatives. Discover solutions that offer diverse ways to efficiently develop Miami-Dade’s transportation network through ways including bus rapid transit, rail systems, system design, automated guide-ways, etc.
Afternoon Session Topics
Afternoon Session C: Establishing Public Private Partnerships: Understand the importance of new partnership efforts between the private sector and the various levels of government in the state. Also hear about innovative programs in several states and share your experiences.
Afternoon Session D: Corridor and Priorities Planning: The planning and development of multi-modal corridors — “the next big thing project” — starts with consensus among many stakeholders in a region, including the walking, riding, and driving public, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations. Prioritization involves many considerations ranging from design and construction of infrastructure to community values in areas such as mobility needs and desired land uses. These themes cut across bus (bus rapid transit, exclusive bus lanes, etc.) and rail systems (underground, elevated, and surface alignments), as well as stations, etc.
The County seems to be taking this event quite seriously too. This could be it, folks! This could be the year that we start to build a broad, diverse, determined coalition of the progressive to finally push for an environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically vibrant set of mobility solutions. It’s time we brought Miami into the 21st century. This Summit could be our chance!
Needless to say, then, our community needs your participation!
To register for the event, please visit the registration website at:
The Summit is scheduled to take place at:
Miami-Dade College - Wolfson Campus
Chapman Conference Center 3210
300 NE 2 Ave
Miami FL 33132-2296
For the future of Miami, let’s make this event bigger and more momentous than any of us could hope . . .
Local politicians are finally beginning to get on-board with bicycle and pedestrian justice!
The smarter ones are beginning to realize that the remainder of their political careers will be determined by their commitment to active transportation and livable urbanism here in greater Miami.
Tuesday, May 21 — 9:15am
Board of County Commissioners Meeting
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
10950 SW 211 Street
Cutler Bay, Florida 33189
Forty years since the publication of a visionary transportation planning document, the shortcomings of Miami-Dade County’s transportation reality suggest that we lost our vision somewhere along the highway, literally.
TransitMiami invites you to take brief trip through time . . .
The year is 1973. The Dade County Public Works Department has just released its State Transportation Programs Proposal for Dade County 1973-74.
In it, a chapter titled Mass Transit (pp. 72-98) makes declarations of a new “beginning on development of a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County”, in which “non-highway elements” are stressed to be at least part of the solution to Dade County’s burgeoning population and economy.
Indeed, there seems to be a fundamentally new consciousness — dare I say, a paradigm shift — reorienting the urban planning and public policy realms away from highways and toward mass transit.The beginning of that Mass Transit chapter reads:
Metropolitan Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation in recent years have become increasingly active in planning the improvement of mass transit facilities. With less emphasis on highways alone, programming efforts have been broadened to multi-modal transportation facilities, including airports, seaports, rapid transit, terminals for truck, rail and bus companies, as well as the highway and street system that serves them and provides local traffic needs.
There’s a sense that perhaps the mid-20th century notion of highways being the transportation panacea has finally begun to lose potency. A more holistic, more enlightened view has apparently begun to gain traction, one which posits that transportation corridors and corresponding land-uses perform best when designed to serve the myriad means and purposes of mobility, as well as the urban environment’s diversity of functions.
Here are some of the major mass transit proposals from the report:
- 53.7 miles of high-speed transit served by 54 stations,
- bus routes operating on expressways and arterial streets,
- feeder bus routes to complement other bus routes and rapid transit,
- mini-systems at selected transit terminals to provide local circulation and link traffic generating areas with rapid transit.
Fast-forward 40 years into the future. The year is 2013.
FDOT and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) — and the construction, automobile, and petroleum lobbies — actively and aggressively seek to expand highways.
Tax payers are being charged $560,000,000 (that’s right: more than half a billion!) for the highway expansion mega-project at the SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway) Interchange.
Real estate developers eager to cash-in on building single-family cookie-cutter homes along the urban periphery in the west and south of the County lobby to transgress the Urban Development Boundary (UDB). Residential sprawl continues to lower the quality of life on the edges of the city.
Eager to keep its agency coffers growing, MDX writes hyperbolic reports emphasizing inflated demographic growth projections on these suburban outskirts, thereby seeking to further justify its southwestward expansion of SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway). MDX advocates for expanding tolled highways in order to generate increased revenues aimed at the perpetual expansion of highways in greater Miami.
Those same city-destroying developers-of-sprawl back MDX — as do all others in the broader network of profiteers — because they perceive as far too lucrative to forego the opportunity to cash-in on pushing the boundary of Miami further into the Everglades and into our fresh water supplies.
Even on roads that have long exhausted their traditional function as “highways”, MDX pursues measures to retrofit them so as to restore their obsolete highway-performing characteristics. This is epitomized by MDX’s “US-1 Express Lanes”, whereby the agency hopes to reduce the dedicated South Dade busways to accommodate new tolled arterial travel lanes for private motorists, as well as, most notoriously, create elevated overpasses (that is, create more “HIGH-ways”).
Meanwhile, our mere 23-station elevated heavy-rail Metrorail system traverses a very linear (and thus limited), virtually-non-networked 25 miles, including the recently added, yet long-overdue, Miami International Airport / Orange Line extension. This is literally less than half the of the 54 stations and 53.7 miles of rail network envisioned in the planning document from 40 years earlier.
Planned expansions to the Metrorail intended to create a true network have been scrapped due to a lack of political will to secure dedicated funding sources, along with an over-abundance of administrative incompetence and corruption.
After decades of false starts, broken promises, gross mismanagement of public funds, and outright political apathy, the time is now to regain the vision put forth four decades ago. The time is now to withdraw ourselves from our toxic addiction to the 20th century model of single-occupancy vehicles congested on highways. We must stop supporting those who seek to destroy our collective public spaces for personal gain through the incessant construction of highways.
The time of the highway is over. The time for “a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County” is now.
Has Miami-Dade County lost its vision for public transit over the last 40 years? — most definitely. However, one can find solace in the fact that this is not the Miami of 1973, nor of ’83, ’93, or ’03. We are no longer the Miami of the past.
This is the Miami of 2013. This is our time. It is up to us to set forward — and bring to fruition — the vision for the Miami of 2053 . . . and beyond.
Ladies and gentlemen: We present to you an important, visionary opportunity to support the creation of not only the first private railway network linking Miami and Orlando via the All Aboard Florida initiative, but also a recreational trail along that same 230-mile stretch!
All Aboard Florida is the ambitious project intended to link Miami and the greater Southeast Florida region with Orlando and the greater Central Florida region. It’s something we at TransitMiami are particularly excited about, and, frankly, you should be too!
What’s even more exciting, though, is the vision being advanced by the non-profit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. With our (meaning the people’s) support, Rails-to-Trails hopes to make a small but significant modification to the All Aboard Florida railway plan: ADD A TRAIL!
That’s right, along with connecting Miami to Orlando with a much-needed railway, why not add a multi-use trail connecting these nodes (and everything in between) too?!
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is asking for our help in this regard with the following message:
Imagine traveling from Miami to Orlando by rail-trail!
It could happen, thanks to a new rail expansion project called All Aboard Florida. But your voice is needed to make sure rail-trail opportunities are included in the plan.
All Aboard Florida is a proposed rail connection between Miami and Orlando. This rail line will be America’s first privately built, privately maintained inter-city rail services since the creation of Amtrak.
The best part is that the 230-mile rail corridor also provides an excellent opportunity for trails alongside the railway.
Right now, the FRA is in the early stages preparing an environmental impact study of All Aboard Florida — and they’re accepting public comments through Wednesday, May 15. It’s the perfect time for you to speak out for the inclusion of rail-trails in the plan!
The window for submitting public commentary on this possibility is about to be closed, so be sure to submit your message of support for the addition of a trail alongside the All Aboard Florida railway as soon as possible.
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