9/28/06

South Terminal

This is a recent photo taken by Umiami305, it was posted on a forum which I frequent. It depicts the South Terminal at MIA which is soon to open. Notice the MIAMI spelled on the side of the building. It's a nice touch most people tend to miss upon first glance...


PD March in the Grove!



Careful Miami PD, I'm certain that the sleepy village of Coconut Grove would not appreciate loud protests pedestrians passing through their quiet, single-family home, suburban neighborhood... The Sun-Sentinel reported that an estimated 800 people participated in the march. I'll add that traffic must of been a nightmare today in the grove considering the few hundred extra people who visited city hall...(Image from the Sun-Sentinel)...



The Grove Says Wait! Let's Negotiate?


Somehow, I told you so, just doesn’t quite cut it. Here is a comment I posted a few hours ago, in response to a anti-growth Coconut Grove comment made earlier:

Transit won't solve these issues on its own; it must be coupled with intelligent growth, which definitely isn’t being supplied adequately by the Grove Activists or Developers...

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way shape or form excited that the Home Depot is moving forward with its plans in Coconut Grove. It just goes to show how we end up with terrible planning in this city when the two extremes never settle upon a happy medium. Grove Activists fought the Home Depot for 2 years, while the popular home store bent over backwards in making its store fit in with the "village vision" of the Grove Residents. The store, designed by Local architect and Grove Resident (I believe) Max Strang, will probably never come to fruition, with its designated truck delivery zones, multi-level parking and stores, new Milam's Market and Pharmacy, and Bahamian influenced design. In the end, we still get nothing but a terrible catastrophic strip shopping center in the heart of a vibrant community. All because one side never decided that in order to settle, they would have to make some concessions. Now, instead, we all pay the price of so truly terrible traffic, parking, and just deplorable planning…The Grove says no? Try again…

The Grove First website...

More info on what was GroveGate, click here...

9/26/06

Improving the Grove/PTP

I’ve shared my discontent on the people’s transportation plan (PTP) on more than one occasion on this site. I’ve also spoken of the nimby-like behavior of the grove residents who oppose any project which crosses their path but at the same time complain about a dearth of parking in their area. Today, I’ve decided to combine the two issues somewhat and present a set of alternative plans that I believe would benefit our community and would satisfy the delicate aesthetic needs of coconut grove residents. Below are three quick renderings I created (please pardon the terrible quality) of the region with possible public transit routes superimposed.


  1. This plan is the simplest, least intrusive, and cheapest alternative. The plan calls for the dismantling of the Omni loop of the people mover system in downtown once the Miami Streetcar becomes operational. I’m figuring that the omni loop will be rendered useless once the streetcar is completed seeing that they essentially cover the same part of the city. The salvageable tracks, vehicles, and station components can then be used to create a new Coconut Grove Loop People Mover system. The CG loop would be approximately 1.65 miles long, just slightly longer than the current 1.45 mile Omni Loop. The loop would be able to transport people quickly and effectively from the Coconut Grove Metrorail station along US-1 to the more pedestrian friendly areas of the grove, office buildings along South Bayshore Dr., City Hall, and the vast network of bay front parks. This option would be good for bringing people into the Grove from other parts of the county, but would not prove as useful for the majority of Grove residents. The plan also concentrates the public transit on the densest part of the grove and along the bustling 27th Ave. corridor.
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, City Hall at Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair


  1. This plan focuses more on a public transit system which would service the Coconut Grove community as the southern terminus for a North-South 27th Ave. Streetcar or LRT. The proposed system would be far more useful than the 9 mile northern extension which is currently planned and underway for Metrorail because it invites better urban growth to occur at the street level along the avenue. The Northern terminus for this transit line would be at Joe Robbie Stadium (Dolphin Stadium) and would travel through Opa Locka, West Little River, Brownsville, Little Havana, and Coconut Grove neighborhoods. It would provide two links to the Metrorail (CG and Brownsville.) This plan would allow for greater development to occur along the 27th Avenue corridor bringing some much needed density to the area. The much debated and contested Carlos Rua project at the Coconut Grove Metrorail station would be one such example of the type of development we would want to encourage (with less parking.) Transit Oriented Developments such as the Rua project are essential to make our transportation networks succeed. Situated along the primary N-S route in the city (US-1), a major avenue (27th Ave.), and our only form of public transportation, this project is hardly out of context with its surroundings and what we can expect of the region in years to come (Perhaps the height is excessive, but the density is of critical importance.)
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, Dinner Key, Dolphin Stadium, MDC Inter-American Campus, Opa Locka, Coral Way Corridor


  1. The last plan focuses on implementing a streetcar or LRT which would travel through Coconut Grove from the Brickell Metrorail station. This plan focuses its attention on the needs of the Coconut Grove area, bringing pedestrian traffic and growth to the areas which can support it best. It would also best serve the needs of the area residents in getting to their local town center which is already facing major parking issues. Traveling through South Bayshore Drive, the streetcar would service areas we designate as pedestrian friendly. It services the dense housing units in the area, waterfront offices, shopping areas, Hospital, and parks. A project like this would greatly benefit from further dense (not necessarily tall) growth to occur along the corridor (perhaps the Related Group’s Mercy project wouldn’t seem like such a far fetched idea.) The streetcar would service both east and west grove and create a center for the community (at Mayfair) which is easily accessible to most via the public transportation. Heading westward, the line could travel through the Village of Merrick Park before terminating at the Douglas Road Metrorail station.
Key Stops: Mercy Hospital, Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair, West Grove, Brickell Metrorail Station, Southern Brickell, Village at Merrick Park, Douglas Road Metrorail Station

I created this above analysis to show that there are a multitude of public transportation concepts which could be implemented in the Coconut Grove area which would not only serve the needs of the area residents but would benefit the entire community. Grove residents should open their minds to development which will enhance their community (I’m not saying to fully accept the Related Group, Home Depot, or Carlos Rua projects) but they need to take a different approach when considering the type of development that will occur in their area. Bringing density to their town center and major thoroughfares like 27th Ave, Grand Ave, and South Bayshore Dr. will keep the charm of the grove intact while also providing a support nucleus which will keep places like Mayfair up and running. This will help reduce the demand for area parking once we recreate a community which is even more navigable for pedestrians rather than vehicles.

As for the PTP, I can only say that we are headed in the wrong direction. Metrorail is an antiquated and extremely costly form of public transportation. We need to embrace a cheaper form of public transit in order to be able to compete with the handful of other US cities which are also vying for federal funding. At the same time, we need to create a system which will satisfy the needs of as many citizens as possible and provide the greatest amount of uses for the community and area re-development.

9/25/06

Reporting Live from: (Insert Fake Suburban "City" Name here)

And then there were none. Major local TV news stations located in the heart of our city, that is. ABC, the sole survivor of the mass exodus of media business from Miami (Proper) announced last week that they too were headed to suburbia. Not just any suburbia, Browardlandia to be precise, making it one less news station that I can actually watch (hey, you turn your back on me; I’ll return the favor.) In the quest for more studio space and more parking (for Dwight or Laurie?), WPLG has given up on their urban location just south of the Media and Arts district design district in Miami. ABC is following the relatively recent moves of NBC/Telemundo into expansive and utterly hideous suburban television studios in western Broward (surrounded by gorgeous, treeless parking lots in every direction) and of CBS in 1985 to the Doral area. NBC however, went so far as to leave us with a faux studio in the American Airlines Arena, to quell our sentiments that the station had completely turned its back on Miami and the concept of urban growth.

The impact of the misguided moves of these news stations abound. It continues to personify the decentralization which has been plaguing Miami since the early 80s and the very reason why we need to seriously rethink the way we are building our transit system and our city. The move of the news stations from the main business center is alarming as much as it is disappointing. For the time being, I’ll keep getting my news from the centrally located Miami Herald, that is, unless they too plan a move to suburbia if/when their land rezoning ever occurs…

Legitimate Reasoning:

"It also gives the station the opportunity to build studios that are equipped with both high definition technology and the latest in hurricane-proofing, Boylan said."

Illegitimate Reasoning:

"The move will give the ABC affiliate badly needed parking space and a more central location to cover both Miami-Dade and Broward counties."

"We also wanted to be more central for news coverage.''

And farther from the location of many of the business, sports, and criminal/justice news stories that we will be covering nightly…Now, we’ll have to drive (using the cars in that new huge parking lot) south daily to cover the stories that people actually care about…

9/22/06

Homeless Design



Well, as I’ve mentioned previously on this webpage, a large biomedical industry in Miami will prove to be an asset for the business/technology aspect of our community. The UM bioscience center is already paving the way in creating a dominant research foundation in the Health district while also giving back generously to the community.

Camillus House has long been a thorn in the respective thighs of nearly all politicians directly involved in its potential move. The shelter, the State, and the University of Miami have finally come to an agreement which will pave the way for the new $70 million facility next to the new bioscience center. The new shelter (pictured above) will contain nearly 1.5 times the beds of the current facility and is being designed by Rodriguez & Quiroga Architects, one of the preeminent design and restoration architects in our region. Rodriguez & Quiroga are specialists in urban design and the integration of structures with their surroundings as well as for their respective uses; a practice which is fairly unheard of in Miami. The modern design of the Camillus House structure will continue to build on the cutting edge buildings currently reshaping the Health District.

The new Camillus House intends to rehabilitate 120 people a year out of “chronic homelessness.” The Camillus House organization has also set a valiant goal of ridding Miami of homelessness with 10 years of the opening of the new facility. It will concentrate on the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals while also providing the resources to address their basic needs.

9/21/06

Curbside Shrimp


Driving around the other day, I thought to myself: “Man, I could really go for some raw uncooked shrimp right about now…” That’s when this fellow appeared on the side of the road with my order bagged and ready to go. Honestly, who would buy shrimp off of a guy standing on the side of the road? He doesn't appear to be too well trained on the proper handling of consumable products. The shrimp has been out there baking in the sun for hours and one can only imagine what conditions it has been kept in before that. I’m getting pretty fed up with all the illegal intersection vendors appearing in Miami, makes me feel like I'm in another country where as a tourist the locals are always soliciting you to buy some useless junk. Police should definitely start cracking down on this terrible practice (Yeah, as if they didn't have enough to worry about.) Plus, the other day while pumping gas, not one, not two, but four people asked me if what type of cologne I wanted to purchase out of the trunk of their car. They had quite an assortment and certainly weren't taking no as an answer until I offered to shove a bottle up their...well you get the point. It makes our city look awful if at every intersection there is some random individual trying to sell you churros, bottled water, flowers, random fruit, or in this case raw hot shrimp.

I think we see such a prevalent illegal street vendor scene due to the lack of public markets available. Legal vendors in many cities can successfully operate their mini shops in open air high pedestrian areas such as city squares (ex.
Union Square in NYC), Parks (Central Park, Boston Common, etc.) or large avenues and boulevards (Paseo del Prado, etc.)

9/19/06

Cross-Blogination, Just Kidding!



Well, it’s cross blogination day and things around here aren't running smoothly. I've just found out that Jessica of the Snap-Crackle-Pop-odopoulos Family Blog is out of town and subsequently will not be posting an article on my site... In lieu of that wonderful detail that I somehow just discovered at this very morning, I’ve decided to do some cross blogination with my readers. I want to hear what you guys think: Whatever transportation/development topic which tickles your fancy will do just fine. You can send me an article today: MoveMiami@gmail.com or reply in a comment. I’ll keep the site updated continuously throughout the day with each and everyone one of the articles I receive…Have fun!

Oh, and go read read my cross blogination over on 26th Parallel…It’s my take on First Generation Cuban-Americans, so It should be a good read…

Update: Since The Cross Blogination did not go as planned, Lisette of Urban Paradise was left holding another excellent article which was originally intended for the aforementioned Family Blog...Go check out Lissette's article...


9/18/06

Watson Island Part 2

I’d like to thank everyone who took some time out of their day to reply to last Thursday’s article. The poll numbers were much lower than I had anticipated, but, we generally got to see that the majority of readers were not in accordance with the development plans for Watson Island. I will take some time now to reply to all the comments:

Walter:
Your visions of keeping Watson Island a sleepy island with a bait shop and plenty of places to stroll are admirable but difficult to implement given the island’s location and proximity to two urban centers. The lack of a public transit station/system makes it fairly difficult to convert the island into a large park for the region.

Manola:
I like your take on the bland architecture, however, I must disagree on your perception of Chad Oppenheim’s 10 Museum Park (The pigeon hole tower.) Ten Museum Park is one of the better designed buildings we will see rising in the area. It has a much greater level of creativity due to the fact that the architect took better care in paying attention to detail than most of the other high-rises in the area which were simply looking for quick profits.
The Parc Olympic idea is excellent but again, difficult to implement if people can’t get to and from the island easily and effectively. An development such as that would be better suited along the Miami side of Biscayne bay, incorporating any of the long neglected waterfront parks.

Mikey:
Good point, Miami is facing a hotel crisis due to the amount of condo conversions we have seen in recent years. The additional Hotels will prove to be a boon to the local economy, hopefully keeping more cruise passengers or mega-yacht owners in our region longer. I’m with you for further options for regular Miami boat owners, but, I believe there is already a public marina on the opposite side of the Island Gardens project.

Helene Pancoast:
I did neglect the Ichimura Japanese Garden but, not on purpose. The Gardens (which I sadly have yet to visit) are supposed to be beautiful and are one of the better points of the Watson Island redesign. From what I have heard they do not garner their share of attention in our region either.

Verticus:
I have yet to experience them myself, however, it could be fenced in to try and isolate the serene attraction as much as possible from the urban spaces and sounds which surround it.

Nicfitkid:
Excellent point, I could not agree more. I believe the marina should not be built to cater only to Mega-Yacht and their owners, but rather boat owners as a whole.

Mark:
Glad to hear you are on board with the plan, there must be some sort of use for such a large/center piece of land. I still think the Miami Children’s Museum is inadequate in its’ external appearances as well as content. I’m not sure where you obtained your information from, but, at 56,000 square feet the MCM is nearly 1/8 the size of the largest children’s museum in the US.

Tere:
Thanks!

9/13/06

Miami Cross Blogination

In case you all were unaware, in less than a week we will be conducting the Inaugural Miami Cross Blogination. What’s a Cross Blogination? Well, we Miami bloggers have come up with a unique idea of trading our sites for day to break up the monotony of day-to-day writing and add a little bit of creativity to our local blogging community. The point of the event is to further the awareness of the blog community in our region as well as to give all our writers the opportunity to gain access to a different sector of readers.

Next Tuesday, I will be blogging on Robert’s 26th Parallel (a site dedicated mainly towards the happenings of Cuba) while Jessica of The Snap-Crackle-Pop-odopoulos Family blog (a site dedicated to the family) will be writing on my site. Sounds like a fun event! I hope everyone takes the time to not only read my article on 26th Parallel, but also the other various writers participating in the Miami Cross Blogination…

For a Complete listing of the sites participating, please click here. Great Job Rebecca.

The Disaster Known as Watson Island

Next Topic of Conversation: Watson Island. I’d like to hear what everyone else thinks about this touchy subject, so, please feel free to comment as much as possible below. I’ve also created a simple poll which can be found on the left sidebar…


The Dilemma:
The proposed use for Watson Island, the artificial island in the heart of our metropolis, has been the center of debate, lawsuits, and political agendas for quite some time now. It was formerly barren strip of land which was frequented by little more than the thousands of cars which traverse the Mac Arthur Causeway daily (Plus or minus a few crack deals by the bay, a handful of amateur photographers, and the people waving goodbye to their loved ones aboard cruise ships that are apparently sailing away to another dimension, etc.) Otherwise, the island is home to some of the most scenic views of the Magic city, the Bay, and the busiest passenger port in the World. Aside from the readily available space, Watson Island remains little more than a wasted opportunity to create something excellent at our city’s front doorstep.


The Project:
The current scheme for the Island will include the already built Parrot Jungle and Gardens and the extremely lackluster in design and content Miami Children’s Museum. Oh, and two massive hotels will also grace the property along with a marina slip for the private ships of the super wealthy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against tall buildings or development; I usually just push for it to be done appropriately and in the right settings. Typically, I don’t advocate placing 500+ ft towers next to a squat 30 foot tall museum on a solitary island in the middle of the bay. In addition to the 6 lanes of the Mac Arthur Causeway, the island may also feature the entrance and exits to a tunnel which would move trucks under government cut to the Port as well as the lanes of the Baylink Streetcar.


The Good:
The opportunities that such developments can provide to our city abound. The average owner of a Mega-Yacht spends over a million dollars a year on the maintenance of the vessel itself, so we can just imagine how much money they will spend when they stay in our city for extended periods of time. One of the Hotels, the Shangri-La will be the first of its kind in the United States and will definitely attract its share of Wealthy Asian Travelers and business to our area. Asia is quickly realizing that Miami is their easiest gateway to Latin America. Parrot Jungle moved from its digs in Pinecrest to the more urban location to become the city’s newest tourist attraction. Regardless of what other projects could have risen on the island, I can guarantee that any project would have greatly transformed what was essentially an unoccupied thoroughfare into a further bustling section of urbanized waterfront.

The Bad:
We are taking advantage of these opportunities at the expense of the public land, plain and simple. The new marina will restrict public access to much of the land. The developer has creatively cited “Anti-Terrorist Regulations” as the reason behind the gates and bars that will keep most of us away from the actual docks or seaside or most importantly Paul Allen, Larry Ellison, Roman Abramovich, or any other billionaire that can afford a boat as big as a Carnival cruise ship. In addition, the only heliport in the area was closed to make way for the impending development as well as a popular bait shop. Parrot Jungle has been a failure until now and owes vast sums of money to the County as rent payments. Apparently it didn’t occur to anyone that the nostalgia and lush tropical environment of the previous location was what kept so many local visitors interested in the park to begin with.

The Ugly:
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying foul about the project, but, at the same time, I don’t support it fully either. I think the land could have had better uses, especially if Baylink had been taken into account much sooner. I also have issues with those who chose to complain about the project as well. First off, just for clarification, the “blocked view” or “added traffic” lawsuits and claims are completely bogus. I hate to remind them, but, they purchased a home, not a view or the surroundings. Last time I checked, the MLS listings included square footage not vistas. My real question to the people who complained about the project is: Where were they before Island Gardens? And why weren’t they complaining about the lack of adequate use on public land when Watson Island was a barren wasteland? No comment. My best guess is because it wasn’t about the public use to begin with…

My Thoughts:
All in all, Watson Island could have served the community much better had the appropriate measures been taken ahead of time. Public Transit would have definitely alleviated many of the traffic concerns and would have presented a multitude of options which would have made the island more suitable to better public uses. The FTAA Secretariat home, an idea that floated around for a while (Small Building on the lower right), could have been feasible with better access and would have created a venue similar to the United Nations plaza in New York City or NATO Headquarters in Brussels Belgium

Update: Miami-Dade County Commissioners Deferred a vote yesterday which would have allowed dredging to begin in the Bay.

Your Thoughts:

Notable Quotes:

Walter Ward:
"With all the graft and unauthorized payments paid out it would more than be enough to keep watson island like it was. A sleepy little place to stroll, the old bait shop etc."

Manola Blablablanik:
"So maybe it's good for the economy if some fat dough-wad geezers park their boats there, but I don't like the idea of limited public access AT ALL."

Mikey:
"I'd rather that they weren't building a mega yacht marina but rather a reguar marina for the RESIDENTS of Dade, but I'm all for the building of more hotels...I'm never wild about giving public land away especially when you look at the track record of Miami officals, but its this or leave it like it is. I vote for more hotels."

Verticus:
"My main concern is with the design. Watson Island was the best piece of public real estate around at that time and it deserved buildings that people from around the world could identify as being in Miami."

9/12/06

Nokia HQ

Big news for the corporate sector of Miami as Nokia announced plans to relocate its regional offices into the Miami area. The regional offices will further bolster our dominant telecommunications industry. We are currently home to the Latin American headquarters of Terra Networks, Telfonica, AT&T;, Ericsson and also home to various other telecom companies including Movida, Global Crossing, and Americatel. The Telecom industry is one of our main industries in the area along with international banking and biotechnology.

Sadly, Nokia will be settling into expanded offices in the blue lagoon area rather than a downtown location…

Get Involved in Transit Planning

Some people have been wondering what they can do to get involved in some of the local transportation projects. I recommend any interested parties attend the workshops hosted by the local MPOs and local transit agencies. I try to post these once a month, and I attend as many as my schedule permits. Here is a listing of some of the upcoming meetings:

Metrorail planning meetings: (Via Miami Herald)
Sept. 19 at the Sheraton Miami Mart, 711 NW 72nd Ave (6:30 pm)
Sept. 20 at FIU's Graham Conference Center, 11200 SW Eighth St (6:30 pm)
Sept. 21 at the St. Dominic Church Parish Hall, 5849 NW Seventh St (6:30 pm)
Miami-Dade MPO Meetings:
FTAC, Sept. 13 at the Stephen P. Clark Center (3:00 pm)
General MPO Meeting, Sept. 28 at the Stephen P. Clark Center (2:00 pm)
Broward MPO meetings can be found on this pdf file.

If you don't get involved, you have no right to complain about the terrible traffic...

9/11/06

News Briefs


  • I've spent the better part of the day reading various articles about the reconstruction of ground zero in downtown Manhattan; hence the absence of any MM awards for the day. I'll offer my take on the rebuilding process in NYC at a later time. I do however recommend reading a review of the site which I read in my hard copy version of the NY Times this morning; the architectural review of the towers by Nicolai Ouroussoff can be found here online.

  • There are also a pair of notable Transit/Development reads in today's Miami Herald: 1. Larry Lebowitz's streetwise column, addresses the expansion of metrorail West towards FIU. 2. Charles Rabin's column addressed the mega yacht developments of Watson Island. I'll be giving my opinion on both subjects later this evening.

  • Alesh, also provides us with his take on the newest advertisement along I-95, the Barry University watchtower.

  • The Miami Monthly is reporting that the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell has become Florida's first Green Lodge, earning certification recently from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The Ambulance Deer




Didn’t think I’d get to bestow the Moronic Monday award today upon anyone? Well, neither did, I, until I ran out to run some late night errands. This is also a character who should be nominated to appear on Burnettiquette's WBA. In any case, this Maricon Monday Award is going out to those idiots among us who see ambulances in their rearview mirrors and freeze like a deer in headlights. Typically, I go above and beyond to get out of the way of the thing so that whatever unfortunate soul is heading off to the ER, can get there as quickly as possible. I’ve ran red lights (yes, cautiously) and jumped curbs just to make way for the sirens, so, I find it difficult that anyone would just sit still when the horn is blaring and sirens are whaling DIRECTLY BEHIND THEM.

Here is how tonight’s episode went. I was the first car at a red light waiting at an intersection on a major three lane road. A few cars had started filing in the two right lanes behind me when I saw the ambulance barreling from behind. Figuring, that it would be easiest if I cleared my one car out of the queue to allow the ambulance to pass, I turned on my hazard lights and jumped out in front of the car in the center lane. That’s when the idiocy occurred. By freeing up my lane, some self serving jerk exited the queue of the center lane, nearly cutting off the ambulance. Then came the punch line: they hit their brakes and stopped fully two car lengths before the intersection, effectively blocking off the shortest route for the emergency vehicle. Stuck. The oncoming turn cars had already yielded to give way to the oncoming ambulance, which had to jump a curb to circumnavigate the moron.

I cringed as the ambulance flew by me and as I peered in through the back windows and witnessed a paramedic pumping the patient’s chest. Hopefully, that person will not suffer any added damages as a result of the selfish and careless drivers of our streets…

Image From Asurroca's Flickr...

9/10/06

Cars, Sprawl, and Global Warming

The Following piece was contributed by guest columnist Ryan, the Sprawl Hater, a regular reader and contrubutor to Transit Miami. As always if you would like to contibute an article, thoughts, or questions with our readers feel free to e-mail me (MoveMiami@gmail.com) or leave comments...Enjoy...

The other day I was at a friend’s apartment by 89th and Flagler, when he had a “got milk?” moment. So, instead of walking a distance equivalent to if not shorter than my block-and-a-half walk from home to the EZ Kwik Mart in the Grove, he chose to drive to a gas station at Fontainebleau and Flagler to get milk. Piqued by his rationale, I took it upon myself to consider his other option: walking. It turns out, despite the short distance; there was actually very little option at all. If he had chosen to walk, he first would have needed to traverse a small section of his labyrinth-like private community. A dead end would have forced him to take the long way, an equivalent of an extra block to reach the exit of his community. Upon reaching the exit, he would’ve been forced to cross Flagler at mid-block, a quasi-suicidal option indeed. If he made it alive, he’d have to then walk across the surface lot of the gas station to reach his destination. After all that, he’d have to do it again to get home. Walking would’ve been awkward, artificially lengthened, and flat dangerous. So, this begs the question; is this an isolated incident or is it symbolic of a more endemic problem that plagues metros like Miami-Dade?
Unfortunately, I’ll suppose the latter. A recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund has exposed what I believe to be the most serious and pressing issue behind the anti-sprawl campaign: global warming. There are many arguments against urban sprawl, but I think global warming is unequivocally the most significant. Yet, it seems most Americans are apathetic, unaware, or just indifferent to the effect sprawl has on worsening global warming. Sprawling, low-density development (incl. private communities, gated communities, subdivisions, cul-de-sac ‘hoods) are almost purely auto centric, meaning they create enormous and almost exclusive demand for automobiles for transportation. Moreover, the presence of distant schools, rigid land use separation, awkward street grids, and guaranteed parking make it near certainty that every trip taken will be via automobile.
The
EDF report
provides some startling conclusions: carbon dioxide emissions from American vehicles in 2004 totaled 314 million metric tons; an average household with two mid-sized vehicles emits more than 20,000 lbs. of CO2 a year (that is equal to 10 tons of pollution a year added to the greenhouse gases that trap heat and consequently raise global temperatures). Furthermore, while the U.S holds only about five percent of the world’s population, it is home to 30% of the world’s cars and accounts for 45% of global auto emissions. You see, minimizing auto dependence is not just an urban planning issue or lifestyle choice anymore - it’s a paradigm shift of global significance that must be embraced before we humans destroyour global environment. Hyperbole? I don’t think so.
If we doubled the fuel efficiency of every new vehicle tomorrow the results wouldn’t be seen for another 20 years. James Hansen, the head of NASA’s top institute studying climate and arguably the world’s leading researcher on global warming, has theorized that humans have only 10 years to reduce greenhouse gasses before global warming
reaches a tipping point and becomes unstoppable.

Think about that the next time you’re forced to drive somewhere to get milk. Think about that when eight of 13 county commissioners voted to move the urban development boundary. Think about that the next time you consider moving.

9/8/06

Financial Aid Request: DENIED!

Enough Said...

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said the developers approached him earlier this year and asked for $200 million from city coffers. He said it would be a poor use of public funds.

''The answer was very clearly no,'' Diaz said. ``I couldn't see government putting money into that kind of a private project. In a property like this that is right next to the PAC, where every major private developer in the world submits a bid, and they want a subsidy? I flatly rejected them.''

Enjoy the weekend Folks... Moronic Mondays will return this Monday, plus, perhaps some weekend posting and a guest Column from Ryan...

9/7/06

Crossing That Highway Some People want to Widen



Today is not an ordinary day, its actually my Birthday; big celebrations are in line for the weekend, however, until then, the blog must go on…I have decided to answer some of the “fan” mail I have received recently. This particular piece comes from Coral Gables Resident Stephen E. McGaughey of Miami Watch:

What are your thoughts, or do you have any information, on the benefits and costs of pedestrian bridges. One is being planned for my neighborhood to cross Dixie Highway and I think that a lot of peoplewill not use the bridge because of the climbing required. Of course,keeping UM students from being run over by our unique Miami drivers is a laudable objective. I note that little or no consultation tookplace on this project.

Excellent question Stephen. Typically, I have found that the use of pedestrian bridges in south Florida does not out weigh the cost of building the structure due to the low numbers of people who choose to use alternate forms of transportation. That is, of course, unless you take into account the lives that can be potentially saved if pedestrian traffic is relegated to such a bridge, then, in my opinion if the bridge prevents even one pedestrian from being hit by a car, it has already outweighed its initial cost.

To analyze the benefit of a pedestrian overpass in your neighborhood, I believe it is best if we take a look at the most recent and similarly completed bridge in the area; the Douglas Pedestrian Bridge. The Douglas Pedestrian Bridge is the most compact and visually appealing pedestrian bridge in the area. The actual Bridge serves a great purpose in safely moving pedestrians across US-1 to and from the metrorail.



Upon reviewing the surroundings of the bridge, however, I have come across several failures of the overpass enhancements. For example, the Eastern terminus of the bridge leaves people in a setting which is very uninviting for a pedestrian; a parking lot and the backside of a gas station (Red Dots on Diagram.) This is where I believe transportation planning is severely lacking in our community. The bridge (like rapid transit itself) should be connecting pedestrians to highly urbanized centers of activity where recreation, employment, or residences abound, rather than another reminder of the fact that using an automobile in South Florida is clearly the easier option.

The second major flaw in the Douglas overpass is its inherent failure to force pedestrians to use it when venturing across US-1. I’ve witness far too many times people darting below the overpass rather than through it. It’s the climbing factor you mentioned. I blame this on inadequate landscaping (Yellow Dot on Diagram) and fencing (Green Line on Diagram) on the part of Miami-Dade transit around the Douglas Station itself. A fence which encompasses the station complex is terminated at the point of entry for the bridge rather than being extended to keep pedestrians within. Public transportation is also an excellent opportunity to connect the public with green spaces and parks. The Douglas road station is severely lacking foliage which would enhance the appearance of the station while also providing a natural green barrier between the pedestrian space and US-1.

The overpass in your area is slated to begin construction in 2008, along with another overpass further South in South Miami. The South Miami overpass will seamlessly connect public transit with the mall and pedestrian friendly area of South Miami. The University of Miami overpass will lead students across to various shops and strip malls; generally areas that are already difficult to navigate as a pedestrian.

MDT and area development currently lack the vision to make Metrorail a vital part of our lives. Transit Oriented development could potentially impact the uses of area pedestrian bridges and rapid transit itself. I’m all for the bridge in your given area because it will make using alternative transportation (yeah, feet are considered an alternative nowadays) that much easier for area students and residents. With two major parts of the puzzle in place, I can only hope that development which takes pedestrians into account begins to revitalize and transform the commercial areas west of US-1…

9/5/06

Highway Enthusiasts



The picture above was taken recently by Miami Photographer James Good. In case you can’t tell what it is; it’s the now defunct Omni Mall project in Downtown Miami. Aside from it depicting an otherwise beautiful south Florida sunset, James Good has also provided us with a rare view of the entire Omni complex and gigantic parking structure. I’ve never quite noticed the immensity of the Omni garage while driving by, but, this picture definitely puts it into perspective for us.

I am a bit troubled that public transit projects have faced so much widespread opposition recently. I’ll quote Troy from Houston Strategies as an example to something I’ve heard far too often:

MiamiTransitMan:Read your post, and I disagree. While a commuter line has the *potential* to move 50,000/hour, most move far, far less - usually less than one car lane's worth, at much higher cost. Your best bet are high-occupancy express toll lanes that can offer any commuter bus/van/carpool 65+ mph express point-to-point service from any suburb to any business/jobs center. Trying to concentrate jobs a la Chicago or NYC is a lost cause - employers will gravitate to cheaper office space more easily accessible by their employees with more affordable housing...

The word potential seems to scare away far too many people apparently. The “potential” of having 50,000 passengers/hour along a single rail line is far more efficient and effective than the guaranteed maximum of 2,200 vehicles per hour that can possibly flow on any highway. I guess it’s the fact that there is a guarantee that the lanes will be filled to capacity at all times that makes the highway method seem so appealing to some. However, the automobile enthusiasts need to understand that there is more to transportation planning than just highways and rail networks. The same cities which have experienced some of the worst sprawl are also facing the greatest difficulties in creating transit systems that work. The Urban center concept isn’t dead; it’s being used creatively now to create various smaller centers in an urbanized area. It's about creating Urban Growth rather than urbanizing more land. Concentrating jobs is a great idea for everyone, including the corporations who choose to do so themselves. If you take a look at the most recent Fortune 500 list, I am willing to bet that most of the US’s biggest corporations are located in the center of major cities. Besides, we’ve only seen the exodus of major employment to the suburbs (not to mention other countries as well) because we have simply allowed it to happen without realizing the congestion issues that it would create...

9/4/06

Study: Miami traffic will only get worse, especially if these people have anything to do with it



I'd like to thank Herald reporter Larry Lebowitz for remaining impartial when composing today's article about the Broward Libertarians who seem to have all the solutions to our local traffic issues. With that being said, I'd like to tell them why they are wrong.

The picture above was taken in the mid 1950's. It depicts rush hour traffic heading north along Biscayne Boulevard. At the time, Biscayne Boulevard was the major North-South route into and out of downtown Miami. Since then we've added 3 North-South expressways (I-95, Palmetto, and Turnpike expressways) as well as widening countless other avenues in Miami-Dade County. So using the theories of Bob Poole and Co., one would think that the 20 to 30 some odd lanes we've added would have solved the traffic congestion, right? Wrong. Just like the 3,400 more miles of lanes they propose will do nothing but spread our current problems all around the county. See, I say this because as any transportation expert would know, the maximum capacity of any expressway is about 2,200 Vehicles per Hour per Lane at a free flow rate of 60 MPH. Which, given the typical stubborn South Florida commuter who fails to carpool, this equates to 2,200 passengers per lane per hour. A typical heavy rail line can easily move upwards of 50,000 people per hour per lane. So, in short, we can go through the trouble and expense of widening expressways to add some minimal capacity as they suggest but then also have to deal with widening major streets such as Bird road, Kendall, or Coral Way. How? Let's take away people's land and make wide boulevards so that our community is as hideous and inefficient as western Broward. So when do we begin?

The people mentioned in the article also speak of a key point which I always tend to bring up; our city and area lacks a defined center in which public transit can be implemented easily, as in New York and Chicago which both have traditional business districts and suburban areas. So why don’t we begin to change our city to model those which have had success in the past. In short, don't build stadiums out in the everglades, add density along major corridors like US-1, create incentives to create business centers, etc. We can use government incentives and better development oversight to steer construction properly rather than the haphazard, disorganized mess that their solution aims to perpetuate...

Update: Robert from the 26th Parallel is on Board...

9/1/06

Midtown Madness Part 3

Speaking of hideous massive parking garages in places where they shouldn’t be, Michael Lewis of the Miami Today News recently discussed the plans of a pretentious developer trying to get the city of Miami to contribute $200 Million to provide parking for his parking garage. I highly recommend that everyone reads this article immediately, seeing that the City Commissioners will be voting on this project next week (September 7th, my Birthday.) I ranted about this project a while back, you can read it here...

I pretty much agree with everything everyone has said about this development except for two key points: 1) the obstructed bay views of the PAC and the bay and 2) the Times Square Like advertising. The first point merits no argument considering the thing was built three city block inland and a block away from a major highway (I-395.) The second point needs to be considered for some location within our city, but, perhaps this is not the best location to create a Miami Times Square like area. We could definitely use a pedestrian friendly area in downtown with plenty of bright lights, advertisements, major Hispanic news networks, etc… Miami is the Gateway to Hispanic culture, so why not create a Times Square geared to our strengths?