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FDOT’s I-95 Express Lanes were recently awarded the People’s Choice Award of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Read the release on the America’s Transportation Award site. Say what you want about the project, but the numbers are in and have shown a definite increase in speed on northbound I-95 where the High Occupancy Toll lanes were installed.

It’s not all about the automobile, either. Articulated express buses should be running on these lanes in January. According to the 95 Express website, the intent is to extend the existing Broward County Transit service running on 441/SR-7 to the Golden Glades interchange to reach downtown Miami. We’ll keep you posted on this new service.

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(video courtesy of the Miami Herald)

Reactions seem mixed, but mostly frustrated to date.

Might the frustration lead more to consider public transportation?

Let us know what you think, and if you have experienced the lights thus far.

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to drive north along I-95 in Miami-Dade County where I snapped the pictures below of the then incomplete sections of 95 Express, the variable priced road pricing scheme program going into full effect by 2010.  Little did I know that just 2 days later, FDOT would be “completing” the first segment of 95 Express and opening the lanes up to the public.  Driving, I actually thought to myself “This should make for some interesting conversation on TM.”  In fact, had I known this, I likely would have driven north to Palm Beach instead of taking tri-rail this past Friday.

95 Express’ opening day was a disaster.  I will tell you why.  This is the sort of outcome you should expect when our government blindly throws hundreds of millions of dollars at an unproven concept.  Not congestion pricing.  We are generally in favor of road pricing policies because of their effectiveness in reducing urban congestion and smog.  I am concerned with the urban partnerships program.  Essentially, this program threw $1 Billion dollars at five cities to “relieve congestion” in existing rights of ways while combining public transportation with road pricing.  Or in the preferred government alliteration speak:

The Department sought applicants to aggressively use four complementary and synergistic strategies (referred to as the “4Ts”) to relieve urban congestion: Tolling, Transit, Telecommuting, and Technology.

Now, how a transportation project can go from conception to construction in just over 1-year’s time is beyond me, this process is sure to be riddled with problems.  Note: In August 2007, the Secretary announced five final urban partners: Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I predict that most Miami drivers will have no problem mowing down the delineated candlestick markers, just as they managed to do along Dolphin Mall Blvd (see below), or Kendall Dr. (Note: here they raised the delineated markers onto a concrete curb after they had been plowed a few times, encouraging most Hummer sedan drivers to stray away.)

This is likely an issue which we’ll be writing on frequently and is the subject of much controversy (especially now) in South Florida.  Before I get to the transit aspect of 95 Express, let’s open this up for some conversation…

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