Charter reform: the latest issue du jour. Term limits, easier citizen petitions, new at large districts - these are some of the possible changes facing voters in May, and depending on the details theycould be revolutionary or they could be useless. Mayoral candidates like Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and others on the County Commission are trying to advance sweeping changes to county government. Kudos to them for trying, but without considering sweeping changes to transportation planning and funding, charter reform will not mean much to the residents of Miami-Dade County.
A truly comprehensive charter reform plan must address the inadequacies of our existing system of transportation planning and governance. Multiple overlapping and competing agencies are responsible for planning and financing roads, highways, and transit, with no coordinated, unified vision. Transit capacity is not being expanded, while roadway congestion cost Miami-Dade County residents $3.2 billion in 2009 according to the Texas Transportation Institute “National Congestion Report.”
Among the policy changes advocated by folks like Commissioner Gimenez is a change to county UDB expansion policy - making it more difficult to expand the urban development boundary, as listed in his ‘Blueprint for Charter Reform’. (Gimenez clarified his position at a Latin Builders Association luncheon last week saying he would not rule out moving the line). While Gimenez’ position on the UDB is in flux, one thing is clear: holding the UDB and encouraging infill development must be coordinated with expanded premium transit options within the urban service area. The challenges presented by growth management are intimately tied to local transit options: the two cannot be disconnected.
Voters in 2002 saw the need for the creation of a premium transit network, and passed the visionary People’s Transportation Plan and ½ cent sales tax, mandating the creation of a Citizens Independent Transportation Trust to oversee the tax and act as stewards of the PTP. Though the CITT was created, it was never truly independent, and the plan remains an unfulfilled mandate.
Charter reform is one of our best opportunities to finally take control of our transportation future - through the creation of an independent authority responsible for all transportation planning and expansion in Miami-Dade County. Led by an elected executive transportation professional, the authority would be responsible for setting policy and implementing a plan that works for allcitizens of Miami-Dade County – transit users, cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike.
With gas prices certain to continue their upward rise, Mayoral candidates like Commissioner Gimenez need to be bold in addressing the imbalance of transportation options in this community. They may want to start by looking at charter reform as part of the answer.
We have some good Rickenbacker Causeway news to report this week.
A Transit Miami Shout-Out goes to Commissioner Carlos Gimenez. Commissioner Gimenez has proposed a resolution to conduct an analysis of the current expenditure of toll revenue generated by the Rickenbacker Causeway and to develop a work plan to allocate 25 cents of every toll collected to projects promoting pedestrian and bicyclist safety along the Rickenbacker Causeway. This proposed resolution will go to the full County Commission next month.
This is a great fist step Commissioner Gimenez! Keep up the good work. Commissioners Jose Diaz, Sally Heyman, and Rebeca Sosa co-sponsored the resolution. Please contact Commissioner Gimenez and thank him for his initiative.
The Miami Police Department also deserves a Transit Miami Shout-Out. Ever since the deadly accident on Bear Cut Bridge last month, the Miami Police Department has been noticeably present on the Rickenbacker Causeway. They have stepped-up enforcement in a major way; increased enforcement plays an important role to ensure the safety of all users on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Thank you MPD! Keep up the great work. Check out the pictures of the MPD in action on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning
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