Currently viewing the tag: "Environment"

Transit Miami friend and environmental activist Sam Van Lear is celebrating the second successful year of the Urban Paradise Guild. If you are not already familiar with the UPG, it is a great organization that Sam founded to work toward the restoration of native ecosystems throughout South Florida. Please check out the celebration at Oleta Park this weekend. Look below for more details.

Where: Oleta River State Park: 3400 N.E. 163rd Street, North Miami, Florida 33160
Why: This Volunteer-Powered organization has removed over 100,000 Destructive / Invasive Exotic
plants and trees using Organic Stewardship (no herbicide) methods developed by the group. UPG
has also planted mangroves, Hammock trees, and native groundcover by the thousands. In 2010
UPG has expanded, with the Location Adoption of Matheson Hammock (Miami-Dade County Parks)
and new UPG Chapters at El Portal, Hialeah, Vizcaya, and Liberty City. UPG Nurseries at Oleta and
Vizcaya are producing native plants, with the Liberty City Nursery coming on line soon. Partners
make so much possible. Activities take place almost every weekend, ensuring steady progress
toward UPG’s goal of “Creating Sustainable Paradise in South Florida, one Habitat at a time.”
Who: We extend a special invitation to UPG Volunteers, Interns and Staff, plus Partners including
Florida DEP, Miami-Dade Parks, DERM & Vizcaya, MWC, and of course Miami Dade College and
other schools, students, faculty & staff (Kindergarten – Grad School). The public is welcome. Bring
your Families.
What: Birthday Activities include…
• Demonstration Planting on Oleta’s South Point (site of 1,000’s of UPG Stewardship hours).
• Picnic / BBQ, with separate grills for meat, veggies and seafood. Bring family-favorite food!
• Live Music by UPG Members and Friends (bring and instrument & play!)
• Kayaking & Canoeing on the Bay.
• Volleyball by the Beach. Bring Football, Futbol, Frisbee, and whatever you need.
• Swimming and Snorkeling.
• Weeds to Wonders activity: Building a Burma Boat (Kayak made from Exotic Burma Reed).
Cost: Admission is FREE for Planting Volunteers before 10am. $6 per car after 10am.
RSVP:http://new.evite.com/utm_source=other_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=text&utm_c
ampaign=host_conf#view_invite:eid=0344AAQZXGL24EIESEO7WUIZSAOPSA

If you encounter problems with Evite, send an e-mail to sam@urban-paradise.org and you will be added.
Email Michelle London: thebohemianchef@aol.com with what you are brining for the Picnic/BBQ.
Please bring a family favorite food, or beverages (no alcohol), cups, plates, etc.

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From the Herald:

The 129-page “Jobs for Florida” bill, slated for a Senate vote Thursday after a single committee hearing, also could eliminate local regulations on wetlands protection and drainage, as well as give local and state regulators less time than ever to review development plans. The bill (SB 1752), which also addresses such issues as sales taxes on boats and the purchase of industrial machinery and includes tax breaks that could add up to $187 million for space, high-tech and film industries, was introduced on Feb. 28. It was approved by the Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means last week by a vote of 22-2 and shipped to the full Senate.

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said those provisions were related to creating jobs in the state’s stagnant construction industry by cutting back government red tape. “A lot of subdivisions and strip shopping centers would fall under that” 40-acre limit, Tschantz said. But bill supporter Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, a contractor, said it just means “the governmental entities are honoring the professionalism of those who submit the plans.”

This is an sleazy attempt by several politicians to try to help their developer friends. It is more of the same bad government that led us to a near economic meltdown. When are these fools going to stop trying to revive the sprawl machine???

Call or write your local Senator- SAY NO TO SPRAWL PRODUCING UNPLANNED GROWTH!

Also, be sure to contact the Tallahassee office of Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton:

322 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5078
Senate VOIP: 5078
bennett.mike.web@flsenate.gov

The Congress for the New Urbanism, an organization for which I am a proud member, has informed its members that the latest CLEAN TEA legislation is to add language supporting federal funds for walkable  street networks to their bill, the overall goal of which is to direct funds from future carbon  cap and trade for transportation and planning investments that reduce carbon emissions. To make sure the sponsors stay committed to network connectivity, CNU now urgently needs members and friends from the sponsors’ states and districts to write letters of encouragement and support.

The sponsors and the areas they represent are:

Sen. Carper, state of Delaware
Sen. Martinez, state of Florida
Rep. Blumenauer, Portland-Gresham area
Rep. La Tourette, Cleveland-Painesville area

A template letter, with text, is below.

For electronic communication, Sen. Martinez prefers that constituents use a web form found on his Congressional home page. Letter text must be pasted into a box. It can also be effective to print a letter on your letterhead (or from your home address) and fax it to Senator Martinez.

Sen. Martinez’s web form: http://martinez.senate.gov/
Sen. Martinez’s DC fax: (202) 228-5171

Dear Senator Martinez:
As a member of the planning and development community from Florida, I am writing to thank you for your leadership in moving our country toward transportation systems and development practices  that reduce carbon emissions while making communities more valuable, livable and sustainable. In particular, I appreciate your recent decision to add language to the CLEAN TEA legislation that encourages and funds improved street network connectivity. As a member of a leading inter-disciplinary organization promoting sustainable urban planning and development, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU - www.cnu.org), I have learned of your instrumental role in developing the CLEAN TEA bill. It represents a groundbreaking effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved public transportation, more connected local street networks and planning for transit-oriented neighborhoods where destinations are nearby and walking, bicycling and riding transit are all attractive options.  Along with others in CNU, I heartily support the CLEAN TEA effort. As word spreads, CLEAN TEA is attracting considerable positive attention in the planning and sustainable development communities.  One of its main provisions — the reviews by state departments of transportation and cities of more than 200,000 people of their transportation plans to determine how future investments can reduce carbon emissions — is a breakthrough. And a strong bill was strengthened further by the recent addition of language that recognizes the essential role that enhanced street connectivity plays in supporting both transit and walkable, livable low-carbon development. CNU’s partnership with the United States Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council to create the first certification system for neighborhood-scale green development (LEED-ND) confirmed that transit-supporting green neighborhoods must have highly interconnected street grids that make walking and mixed-use activity convenient, rather than a  dendritic pattern of cul-de-sacs and collectors that make driving the only option. We heartily thank you for including support for connected transportation networks in the CLEAN TEA bill. As practicing urbanists, we’ve been leading a revival of this kind of time-tested neighborhood-based development, whether it’s revitalizing inner city brownfields, turning dead malls into walkable mixed-use centers, revitalizing small towns or creating walkable new towns. Although it often requires the changing of existing zoning codes and automobile-only road and highway designs, development in these walkable mixed-use neighborhoods strengthens community ties and creates enduring value, generally selling at a premium compared to comparable driving-only subdivisions. By helping people reduce the amount of driving they are forced to do, these neighborhoods help households dramatically reduce both their personal transportation costs and their household carbon emissions. Where this mixed-use development is served by good transit service and accessible to regional job centers, the carbon reduction impacts are even more dramatic.

See cnu.org/climate and cnu.org/locationefficiency for more discussion of these impacts.

As you and your fellow sponsors of CLEAN TEA have made crystal clear, we cannot achieve either the sustainable economic growth or the carbon reduction goals we so badly need without addressing the emissions impacts of transportation investments and the shape of our built environment. CLEAN TEA starts to reverse highway-centric federal transportation policies that  actually made the problem worse. We in the planning and development community applaud you for making transportation reform a priority and look forward to working with you to help advance this legislation.Please do not hesitate to call on me or CNU to advocate for language that ensures that federal funds can be used to improve sustainable transportation networks. Thank you for your consideration of my views on this issue.

Sincerely yours,

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Recall the post where I had the opportunity to interview Miami Beach chief of Staff AC Weinstein? Good, because here are some thoughts I drew up on the conversation, many of which I commented directly to AC throughout our first of many discussions on the future of Miami Beach…

Now, the first question on development, I fear, may have been interpreted a little bit too literally, but that is what happens when you try to be so precise with the wording of questions. The intention was never to correlate the cranes in Miami ensure economic vitality, but rather insinuate how in such a difficult market would Miami Beach continue to grow in order to ensure a steady tax revenue stream and thus guaranteeing the future economic vitality of Miami Beach industry. I was also hinting that height restrictions and true urban density should not be so interconnected with increased congestion on the Beach and that absurd limitations would only hamper future economic options for Miami Beach.

I was disappointed (not surprised) upon hearing Mr. Weinstein’s reply regarding Baylink, but was utterly dismayed when discussing the reasoning behind it. The basic arguments presented against Baylink (by the Beach) have been: Hurricanes, Washington Avenue, the Flexibility of Buses, and now apparently Historic Character. Hurricanes, we’ve addressed, this is a moot point considering all wires and structures will be built to hurricane standards and underground wires are not out of the realm of possibilities. Coincidentally, the reconstruction of Washington Avenue occurred at time when Miami Beach officials were beginning to object to Baylink (remember the famous quote around then: “Baylink will further enable those people to readily access the beach?“) Baylink would only further enhance the Washington Avenue streetscape, requiring only insertions of tracks while leaving much of the rest alone. My Favorite: “Flexibility of buses.” Miami Beach is like what, 11 blocks wide where most of the streetcar will be traveling? I doubt selecting any of these two streets will pose a problem when the streetcar will be virtually within a 4 block walk of nearly every address South of the Bass Museum. You really can’t go wrong. As for the Historic City comment, please look below at the Miami Beach Streetcar Map in 1928, or click here for some solid video evidence.
My qualm with the whole Baylink discussion was that the office of the mayor has yet to provide a legitimate alternative transit solution to handle the city’s current and upcoming demand. The reports I’ve seen both indicate that congestion will reach unbearable levels by 2011 (the economic vitality I was hinting at earlier would certainly suffer) all but promoting the idea of a longer termed solution. The office mentioned no plans to improve (or green) bus capacity, build transfer stations, or work with MDT to enable better signal prioritization along key corridors.

We’re pretty excited the Mayor’s office created the Green committee, however we’re not quite sure what tasks the committee will be tackling or what the stated goals of the committee are. There aren’t any plans, yet, to push for mandatory LEED certification on new construction or considerations for alternative fuels, car sharing, or other equally progressive programs.

The Bikeways and expanded bike lanes were a breath of fresh air. It’s reassuring to see the city take the necessary steps to move in a bike-oriented direction and even require bicycle parking. I hope the city (and perhaps the green committee) see that the addition of transit will only further enhance the cycling options while creating a much cleaner environment along the beach.

All in all, my conversation with Mr. Weinstein proved to be beneficial to us here at Transit Miami, as well as with many of the Miami Beach constituents. Mr. Weinstein provided us with a glimpse of the mentality issues we’ll have to face in the coming years in order to see real public transportation options come into fruition while providing a fresh, new perspective on the bicycle/pedestrian improvements the Beach hopes to make.

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A couple of recent articles have brought attention to freight rail. Palm Beach Post’s Cone Zone posted that CSX now has a carbon calculator on its website to show just how much more environmentally friendly trains are than trucks. The Wall Street Journal also published an article today that mentions the environmental issue, but actually heralds the beginning of a “new era” of railroad expansion.

What? You mean trucks haven’t killed the railroad? Did someone tell Miami yet?

It’s impressive. Basically, rail went through an expansion boom in the late 1800s that ended in the mid 1900s with the construction of the interstate. Now, the interstates are crowded and dangerous, and diesel and other emissions are killing the environment; and the trucking dream is no longer looking so good. With skyrocketing gas prices, railroad companies are able to compete more easily with less fuel efficient trucking companies, and they have been expanding their rail systems in the past few years. In an interactive map, WSJ points to several ongoing improvement and expansion projects that are modernizing the nation’s freight rail system. Railroad companies are actually touting some of the same things that we do about passenger systems: rail expansion is an environmentally friendly alternative to expanding highways.

Perhaps we need to work together with the rail freight companies to persuade voters and politicians that rail is a better way. Meanwhile, we can sit back and see whether rail will compete with the Port of Miami tunnel after it opens.
Photo by Flickr user SP8254.

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With election season now in full swing, the time has come to decide which candidate we think will best lead us for the next four years. Here on Transit Miami, we’ll be taking a close look at the presidential hopefuls to determine which candidate is the strongest on smart growth and livable cities issues.
Without further ado, let’s break down the remaining presidential frontrunners:

The Republicans: Now while Transit Miami is a non-partisan blog, Republicans and Libertarians generally do not have a strong record for supporting smart growth or transit-oriented urban policy. The Republican candidates for this year’s election are no exception. All of the front-runners are soft on climate change, using the typical rhetoric of voluntary reductions on greenhouse gas emissions. Fred Thompson, who has fortunately dropped out of the race already, at one point even mentioned considering opening up the Everglades for oil exploration.

The Democrats: Though far from meeting our high standards, the leading Democratic front-runners are unquestionably more dedicated to livable cities issues than Republicans. Here’s a breakdown of where the top three candidates, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards stand on planning-related issues:

Hillary Clinton:
From “Powering America’s Future: Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Address the Energy and Climate Crisis”:

“Hillary’s big three goals: “Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 – the level necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from projected levels by 2030. Transform our carbon-based economy into an efficient green economy, creating at least 5 million jobs from clean energy over the next decade.”

“Creating a market-based cap and trade program, and auctioning 100% of greenhouse gas permits. Hillary would raise fleet-wide fuel economy standards from the current level of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) to 40 mpg in 2020 and 55 mpg in 2030.

“Increased public transit usage is one of the best strategies for addressing the energy and environmental costs of transportation…As President, Hillary will increase federal funding for public transit, including buses, light rail and subways, by $1.5 billion per year. She will also link federal public transit funds to local land use policies that encourage residential developments that maximize public transit usage and discourage sprawl. She will also invest an additional $1 billion in intercity passenger rail systems. Intercity passenger rail is an environmentally efficient alternative to highway driving and short flights; it elieves congestion on roads and airports; reduces the emission of automotive pollutants; and it timulates economic growth by linking metropolitan areas.”

Barack Obama: From Obama’s “Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader”:

“Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Over the longer term, we know that the amount of fuel we will use is directly related to our land use decisions and development patterns, much of which have been organized around the principle of cheap gasoline. Barack Obama believes that we must move beyond our simple fixation of investing so many of our transportation dollars in serving drivers and that we must make more investments that make it easier for us to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives.”

“Reform Federal Transportation Funding: As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account. Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks, and he will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Building more livable and sustainable communities will not only reduce the amount of time individuals spent commuting, but will also have significant benefits to air quality, public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Level Employer Incentives for Driving and Public Transit: The federal tax code rewards driving to work by allowing employers to provide parking benefits of $205 per month tax free to their employees. The tax code provides employers with commuting benefits for transit, carpooling or vanpooling capped at $105 per month. This gives drivers a nearly 2:1 advantage over transit users. Obama will reform the tax code to make benefits for driving and public transit or ridesharing equal.”

John Edwards: From Edward’s “Achieving Independence and Stopping Global Warming Through a New Energy Economy”:

“Transform the Auto Industry to Lead the World in Cars of the Future: Edwards believes that everyone should be able to drive the car, truck or SUV of their choice and still enjoy high fuel economy. American automakers have the ingenuity to lead the world in building the clean, safe, economical cars of the future.”

“Raise Fuel Economy Standards: American cars and trucks are less efficient than they were two decades ago, despite the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Standards in China, Japan, and the European Union are between 40 and 100 percent higher. Edwards will raise standards to 40 miles per gallon by 2016, a step that could single-handedly reduce oil demand by 4 million barrels per day. [Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2004; Reicher, 2007]”

“Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled: Edwards will create incentives for states and regions to plan smart growth and transit-oriented development with benchmarks for reductions in vehicle miles traveled. He supports more resources to encourage workers to use public transportation and will encourage more affordable, low-carbon and low-ambient pollution transportation options.”

Transit Miami will not take the position to endorse any particular candidate at this point in time but we will however attempt to portray how the candidates stack up on the key issues. We believe Hilary Clinton has the best climate change policy and has the strongest ties to the type of people who will bring about positive environmental changes over the next four years. Barak Obama has the clearest development policy of the three democratic candidates and his platform specifically addresses the benefits of smart growth. Obama is endorsed by many bicycling groups and has even stated that he will push for better pedestrian and cycling oriented policy as president. John Edwards presents the most conservative approach, concentrating much of his policy of fuel efficiency and alternative fuels. We’re concerned about all of the candidates’ positions and emphasis on coal energy and alternative fuels and are disappointed to see that none adequately address better growth principles.

Uh Oh, apparently there is a UDB vote today

”If we’re starting to get serious about water, climate and environmental issues, the most important thing we can do is prevent urban sprawl,” [Katy Sorenson] said.

The debate will surely pit opponents to further development in Florida’s most populous county against business interests that say the projects are needed.

One applicant wants to build a Lowe’s retail store near Southwest 138th Avenue and Eighth Street; another plans to create office and industrial space in an area in Doral near Beacon Lakes; two others aim to convert agricultural patches off Kendall Drive near Southwest 167th Avenue to business and office space.

These projects are needed? How you justify business and office space along the western fringes of civilization when you have a CBD that mainly looks like the picture below is beyond me. Commissioner Sorenson is right, we simply cannot continue to grow west and expect to become a sustainable, ecologically conscientious community, but then again, why should we expect the business interests coming up with these projects to give a damn in the first place? The Commission needs to force the greedy developers trying to push the line further west to reinvest their efforts in our blighted neighborhoods…Just look at all the empty lots sitting within our allegedly dense urban environment…

But then again, who are we trying to kid when the ideology of the commission is:

But Martinez, the county commissioner who oversees a large portion of Kendall, believes some of the applicants have an upside. Though the Lowe’s would be built just outside his district, he said the company has promised to build a bridge over Southwest 139th Avenue that will actually “alleviate traffic.”

Alleviate traffic? Thanks Martinez! we weren’t aware of your experience in traffic engineering, do you care to elaborate how sprawl will reduce congestion throughout the county?

Via CM

Having been a citizen of Miami for nearly three weeks now, it has become increasingly clear to me how vital the work at transitmiami.com truly is. As with all things Miami, it seems that many of the elements that make Miami so wonderful are in constant battle with the elements that hamper its greatness. The realities of traffic, congestion, infrastructure, public transportation and the reliance and love affair with the automobile are a major burden. The fallout of this reality is not limited to, but includes-after just a few week- significant limits the potential for productivity, impacts on the environment, and an unfortunate blanket of struggle over daily life. I for one, as I believe for certain many concerned Miamians do as well, have been trying to find alternative solutions, however, there is little help in place, with woefully inadequate public transport options. It will require nothing less than getting very creative. Aquatic mass transport, in this oasis of waterways is perhaps, a logical good step. More will need to be done than to leave it to the one man solution illustrated here, however, zero impact on the environment is a good thing.


Bonneville Salt Flats, originally uploaded by gm_blogs.

In the spirit of Miami catching up with the rest of the country today with the opening of our first E85 Fueling Station…

Ryan will be back later today to discuss why E85 really isn’t all it’s cut out to be…

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Can’t wait to see how quickly this house falls in value when the owners realize they built under a TV Tower…

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I went to Knaus Berry Farm recently in the Redlands to savor Miami’s best milkshake and to buy some fresh, locally grown produce. Although the drive is long, the tastes and sweets are well worth the effort. I’m no longer as phased as I used to be about the amount of new development I encounter along the way. Our land use is absurd and we’re swallowing precious farm land (and the whole Miami-Dade farming industry) at an alarming rate. Part of becoming a sustainable city includes retaining enough farmland so that a considerable amount of our produce can be grown locally. As it pertains to agriculture, sustainable describes farming systems that are “capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely (Definition via National Agricultural Library.) The costs (and tastes) of locally grown produce are far superior to that of any import and the energy wasted in transportation is much less than conventional methods, making the whole process greener for our local economy. I’ve digressed…
So, we’re managing to pave over our precious farm land at an astonishing rate. Cut-rate houses are rising on lots far too small for the house size and whole neighborhoods are springing up around a road network better designed to handle cattle and tractors rather than soccer moms and minivans. The whole thing is quite a mess really and it’s rather disappointing to experience. The lack of infrastructure is incredible and the fact that so much development has already occurred or has been approved is quite disturbing. It’s only a matter of time before strip shopping centers prevalent in America as Suburban eyesores begin to dot the landscape, bringing with them total chaotic growth and congestion.

I was most in shock to see the size of the houses rising beneath the massive NBC radio guyed mast tower. These houses make the houses built in the 1970’s in cocaine alley look like shacks (no, I’m not implying that these houses too are funded by illegal activities.) The fact that anyone would spend the kind of money to construct these multiple thousand square feet houses miles from nowhere was shocking. I took a few pictures which failed to capture the magnitude of these houses, but luckily I found an ebay listing for the lots next door, selling for over $800k and touting the absurd immense houses rising in full view of the property. Here are some pictures and quotes from the listing:

BUILD YOU DREAM MANSION OR TWO ON THIS 5 ACRE PARCEL OFFERED AT $819,000.00, LOCATED IN MIAMI (REDLAND), FLORIDA. INVESTOR’S DREAM! OWNER FINANCING AVAILABLE

MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MANSIONS ON EVERY CORNER! THIS VACANT AND FLAT 5 ACRE LOT IS ZONED AGRICULTURE AND YEARLY TAXES ARE $244.00. INCOME FROM PROPERTY CAN EARN $250,000/YEARLY IF USED AS A NURSERY, ACCORDING TO NEIGHBORING NURSERY OWNERS. THE LOT ALSO ALLOWS ZONING FOR TWO HOMESITES TO BE BUILT, AS SEEN IN NEIGHBORING PROPERTIES. PROPERTY IS LOCATED MINUTES FROM EXECUTIVE AIRPORT, PRIVATE GOLF&COUNTRY CLUB, MIAMI-HOMESTEAD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY & THE FLORIDA KEYS.
The first of several hideous houses which initially caught my eye, I believe the architecture style is more commonly referred to as gaudy Miami or just plain ugly. This house rests just yards away from the base of the guyed mast and seemingly straddled between two of the anchoring cables. These people will be in shock the day they decide to sell this house and realize it isn’t worth anything near what they expected…
This was just the entrance to the house across the street. King Louis the XIV can be found somewhere in the chateaus (yes plural) in the background… Some of the surroundings, just waiting to be bulldozed and have some more McMansions or “affordable housing” built upon them…Another house, designed in the gaudy Miami style, still under construction…McMansions piled upon each other despite the amount of land available nearby… The ebay listing was far too childish and poorly written to be taken seriously, “Oh, Mansions!” but the construction occurring in this part of the county is undeniably genuine. The area will continue to explode if growth continues to be unchecked, bringing it with it more of the same suburban sprawl that plagues most of our city. The county will have to fund massive overhauls in the area to deal with the influx of residents while damage to the everglades ecosystem nearby and the disappearance of Miami’s farming will continue at an alarming rate unless we pro actively take measures to heed the advancement of greedy development…

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  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC was in Miami yesterday to experience our Bus Rapid Transit system. Our is nothing like what NYC is looking to build, with dedicated ROW’s and ridiculous fragmentation from local development, but I hope Mayor Bloomber was able to see what can be accomplished alongside expansive roadways which don’t exist in NYC. In any case, I see this as something kind of momentous for MDT and yet none of our news outlets covered the story…
  • No surprises here: Miami came in ranked at 98th for the Nation’s 100 most walkable cities. As CNN likes point out: Madison — 1,300 miles north of Sunny Miami came in first place. “Number of beaches versus frozen lakes apparently was not a factor. Crime rate, unfortunately for Miami, was.” Those Time Warner Companies are really out to do us in, aren’t they?
  • The FDOT has received three proposals to construct the Tunnel which would link watson Island/I-395 with the Port of Miami. The $1.2 Billion project is essential for improving the truck traffic connection between our highways and the port, not to mention should also make our downtown a more pleasant place to walk around. Without the tunnel, our port will choke on its own success, making the movement of goods in and out the biggest port in the state virtually impossible…
  • Oh, whoops we’re you trying to ride Tr-rail to get to work in a timely manner? CSX plans to disrupt Tri-rail for the next month. It’s things like this that makes people think that transit can’t work down here.
  • Miami City Commissioners voted to endorse the Marlins’ stadium plan within the city. Like their inept fellow commissioners in the County, they too decided to endorse the Orange Bowl Venue instead. I guess protecting out surface lots in downtown really is a priority for everyone around here, otherwise there is no logical reason to not place this this in downtown. “Criticisms of the downtown site have included its relatively small size…” but, nonetheless it fits, so, how is this a valid argument again?
  • MVB reports on Miami 21. Apparently the new building codes will be unveiled on March 24th.
  • GreenerMiami is working on Eathfest: WaterFest Gone Green…
  • BOB Reports on Rail Volution coming to Miami next Fall…

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One of our dedicated readers, Carolyn, informed me of an interesting lecture coming up in Miami:
The U.S. Green Building Council South Florida Chapter and University of Miami School of Architecture present:

MARCH 21
MIAMI STREET CAR UPDATE
7 pm. Refreshments at 6:30 pm, Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center Stanley and Jewell Glasgow Lecture Hall, Dickinson Drive, University of Miami, Coral Gables Campus. and open to the public.

Mary Conway, P.E., Chief of Operations, City of Miami

In recent years, the City of Miami has seen an unprecedented wave of urban infill and redevelopment in a compressed downtown core area, and in adjacent neighborhoods. Miami Streetcar Project has emerged as one essential component of a transportation network that will entice Miami motorists out of their cars, into convenient mass transit, and onto city (and County) streets. Miami Streetcar Project is a direct response to the challenge to provide improved mobility options for users of the transportation network throughout the downtown core. This presentation provides an update on the Miami Streetcar Project, and an overview of the roles that streetcar systems play in shaping cities, by fostering pedestrian-friendly urban environments, and re-invigorated downtowns across the United States. This affordable mode of mass transit is emerging as an increasingly popular application, because of its cost-effective and time-efficient construction, its financial affordability, and its ready adaptability to active pedestrian-focused environments. City of Miami has responded to the local mobility challenge by pursuing multi-agency partnerships and innovative project delivery methods to build the single transit investment that could make a profound difference in re-shaping downtown Miami, in record time.

Mary H. Conway, P.E., currently serves as the Chief of Operations for the City of Miami and is a prominent Civil Engineer and Project Manager with more than 18 years of experience in the industry. studied briefly at Harvard University and the United States Naval Academy before earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Miami. was the recipient of the “Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Graduate” award from University of Miami as well as a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, engineering honor societies. Prior to joining the City, Mary worked with the Florida Department of Transportation for over 10 years, where she oversaw major transportation projects in Miami-Dade County as well Broward to Indian River Counties. She also worked with FPL as a service planner and Beiswenger, Hoch and Associates as a production and project manager. served as Director for the City of Miami Capital Improvements and Transportation (CIT) Department for approximately two years. Mary’s hard work and results were recognized and she was promoted to Chief of Operations and is now responsible for overseeing the following Departments: Parks and Recreation, Solid Waste, General Services Administration (GSA), Public Works and CIT. Mary has also continued her involvement with CIT,responsible for overseeing the planning, coordination,implementation and monitoring of all construction related capital projects and transportation projects in the City of Miami. projects include street infrastructure and flood mitigation; park improvements; public facilities including fire stations, police and other city buildings; marinas; the Orange Bowl; and a state of the art urban streetcar transit circulator project. City’s current Capital Improvement and Multi-year plan encompasses over 1100 projects valued at over $675,000,000 through the year 2010 and will certainly increase as Miami continues to grow. experience, professionalism, dedication and drive have earned her the respect of her peers in the City, with other government agencies and within the engineering community at large.

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I came across the Earth Day Network’s Urban Environment Report which took the time to score and rank 72 major urban areas in the United States based on environmental policy and sustainability principles. Needless to say, Miami came in a spot better than I anticipated; 71st place.

View City results

About Earth Day Network…

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Some of you may have read about the recent debacle caused by the FDOT and Biscayne Boulevard preservationists over the removal of nearly all of the Royal Palms along the streetscape. Here’s the abridged version of the recent events:
  • FDOT planned to remove most of the palms on Biscayne Boulevard to replace them with shade trees such as Oaks, in order to enhance the pedestrian experience along the boulevard and to improve “safety” along the corridor in a new ROW acquisition.
  • The FDOT plan was met by stiff activist resistance, opposing the removal of any trees and opposing the plans by the FDOT.
  • To date, 135 palms have been removed, approximately 2/3 of the palms along the corridor which were planted over 80 years ago to commemorate the Veterans of all Wars.
  • Trees continued to fall, as recently as February 6.
  • On February 7th, the FDOT agreed to stop further destruction of the Royal palms, claiming that the trees removed the day before were either sick or part of the ROW acquisition.
  • Today, after the lobbying of Commissioner Sarnoff and Mary Conway, the FDOT has finally agreed to end the destruction. The Biscayne Boulevard corridor will now feature much more foliage than had been previously planned, including more Royal Palms and various other shade trees.

It’s difficult to swallow the “pedestrian enhancement” bull the FDOT is throwing at us when the trees are being removed to further enhance the traffic flow along the corridor. As the herald article noted, Miami’s tree canopy is an abysmal 10% (compared to 30-40% in other denser, pedestrian-minded cities) and yet, the solution to improve our tree canopy dysfunction involved the removal of existing trees. I guess we’re trying to maintain it at 10%, rather than improve upon it.

The bigger picture I’d like to point out is while one local agency works to make our streets more pedestrian friendly, our city commission is out approving a monstrous structure with 1,700 parking spaces in the immediate area. Note above: the pedestrian friendly streets of yesteryear featured not only pedestrian friendly foliage but streetcars as well. The approval of 2222 Biscayne is a dark reminder of how far we still have to go to improve the urban culture of our city. Any structure on an existing or planned public transit route should feature far less parking than the city code currently calls for and certainly far less than the 1 space/250 square feet offered by this eyesore…

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