10/31/06

Plan to Fail or Fail to Plan? Who Decides?

Commuter trains in Kendall? The tri-rail of the South can and should be a reality, if you ask me. But, gathering support for such an easy solution to the congestion in southern Dade may prove to be more challenging than just retrofitting some old cargo tracks for passenger DMUs. A potential firefight will likely evolve, as residents living along the corridor fight to keep the tracks in their backyards as underutilized as possible to benefit their pocketbooks.

As this saga begins to unfold, a reoccurring question keeps arising: At what point does community involvement in planning become a limiting factor for the benefits said project can deliver to the community? Or in laymen terms, how much community involvement is too much? We’ve seen it countless times; Baylink, West Corridor meetings in Sweetwater, Miami streetcar, etc. The list goes on and on. Countless projects cease to provide benefits to a majority of the population for the sake of pleasing a few. Who will finally step up and lead transportation initiatives in the right direction? MDT has proven to be ineffective in pushing projects into the community (evidence: Baylink, which was despised initially by Miami Beach residents, although this project would have likely improved the county’s transit system the greatest economically and in passenger figures.) Local politicians are too feeble to take a politically incorrect stance which could hurt their reelection bids (Metrorail, west corridor, Transit Oriented Development in the Grove and Pinecrest.)

Going back to what seems like the impending argument against a southern extension of tri-rail; why should homeowners along the railroad tracks have the right to deny a greater portion of the population an easier logical route for public transit? The tracks were likely there before anyone moved into the area, heck, the FEC corridor has existed as longer than any municipalities have, did it not occur that these tracks might be used once again? Will property values decrease? Well, perhaps, but probably not as much as if we continue to build westward, without accounting for public transit needs.

The problems lie in one of my main underlying causes: lack of vision. MDT doesn’t know where we’re headed. City planning is inexistent. Politicians could care less. Development runs rampant. Chaos ensues. There isn’t a uniform plan on how to redevelop the county. There isn’t a plan to reduce congestion. And there certainly isn’t a plan to control our county’s growth, just a mobilized and politically connected group of developers, eager to continue adding to the mess which initially placed single family developments alongside a rail corridor…

10/30/06

Life on MDT



Today, The Miami Herald chronicles the daily life of Luis Lopez Flores, a Peruvian Immigrant in
Miami who relies on public transportation to get from his north-Miami Beach residence to class in downtown, work in western Dade, and back home again. It’s a touching story about the struggles this man has to endure on a daily basis just to get around town. His cross-county trips often take upwards of one and half hours, with many bus transfers, walks through seedy neighborhoods, and a great deal of patience when relying on public transit in Miami-Dade county. The story highlights not only the personal struggles of this hardworking individual, but also the inefficiency of the Miami-Dade transit system. It’s well worth the read...

Image From Iseeantwan's Flickr...

10/27/06

Golden Glades Toll Redesigned



I found the images above on a Forum which I frequent, they were originally posted there by Rx727sfl2002. They are planned views of what the new Golden Glades interchange toll plaza may soon look like. I believe they are the work of Arquitectonica...


10/26/06

Only In Miami




''Some people got angry and just walked back to the station..."



What Ridiculous behavior. I can't recall the last time I was riding on public transit in another city where a power outage occured and people ventured out into the subway tunnel (past the electrified third rails) and walked to their destination...

Quote and Image from The Miami Herald

Snazzy Gas Part II

For those of you who visited the site yesterday and were taken back to April 2006, I apologize on behalf of the terrible blogging software that I use. I also apologize for the sporadic posts this week; I have a ton of information to pass on to you all but have been out of commission due to some stupid cold that has been going around recently.

I recently received a digital telegram from a very loyal reader, Erin, in Washington D.C. in response to the Snazzy Gas article and comments. In any case, I think her reply will better inform us about where our gas comes from and will probably stir up some interesting conversation:

Hi Gabriel,

I work for Edelman and do online public relations for Shell, and I recently came across your post “Snazzy Gas” at the Transit Miami blog. I applaud your interest in testing a variety of fuels for better gas mileage - it’s certainly a worthwhile experiment.

I’m just writing to clarify a point made by one of your readers in a comment. Dave remarked about gas stations essentially offering all consumers the same product. I understand where Dave’s thinking comes from, but the reality is that all gasoline is not the same.

Here are the basics on “why”: Gasoline that comes out of the fuel dispenser at a service station is composed of two primary components - the base fuel and the additive. While the base fuel may be similar between two or more brands, the additive - in Shell’s case, a proprietary formula -- may be different for each brand.

While all gasolines contain minimum levels of detergents as required by government standards, several companies - like Shell - use additives that feature higher levels of cleaning agents which help prevent harmful deposits from forming on critical engine parts. (More info at Shell’s website:
www.shell.com/us/vpower)

Also, if you’d like to know more about high detergency, better quality fuels, check out Top Tier Detergent Gasolines:
http://www.toptiergas.com/

At any rate, I hope that information is helpful. Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions!

Best,
Erin

10/24/06

East-West Rail Planning

Tonight is the Final East-West Corridor Community Workshop.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Jorge Mas Canosa Center
250 SW 114 Ave., Sweetwater, FL 33174

10/23/06

Asking the right questions

I’ve always found come election time that a crucial question is often overlooked when examining which potential candidate to vote for:

What is your position on urbanization and urban growth? Are you for either of them, if so which ones or both and why?

In Miami more than anywhere else, this question is necessary to fully understand a candidate’s position on growth, the environment, and development. The answer I’ve most commonly received to this question is silence with hint of bewilderment upon the candidate’s face with perhaps a nervous twitch or mannerism. Most then say they didn’t know there was difference between the two before giving me a run-of-the-mill response which could have easily answered a question about their plan to solve global poverty or aids, whatever.

I guess to answer the question; we must first define the two terms.

Urbanization: This is the process of converting rural or underutilized land outside the general city limits into developed property. Urbanization is an increased extent of urban area. The negative connotations which are drawn up when we think of urbanization is due to the poor land use we have become familiar with when growth occurs to sustain the population growth. Um, Sprawl.

Urban Growth: Is the process of finding new uses for existing urbanized land. Urban growth has come to be associated with new the new urbanism movement to re-use our land more effectively and efficiently with greater density and functions. Urban growth is about improving our surroundings to minimize our impact on the environment while redeveloping urbanized space.

A candidate which is pro urbanization is thus far more likely to turn to moving the UDB westward as a method of sustaining the population growth of our area. An urban growth candidate is more likely to suggest denser housing solutions in the population centers, linked by public transit. Next time you have the chance to meet a possible political candidate, ask them what they believe in, it may be the difference between additional housing in South Dade rather than on underutilized land elsewhere…

Snazzy Gas

So, I was driving around last night when a thought came to my head that I’d never expect: Man, the redesigned Chevron gas stations look really sharp. Weird, I know considering how much I despise gas stations and our unnatural dependence on them. I generally like the new look and feel the Chevron stations portray. Though they are still cookie cutter, unoriginal and generally uninspiring structures, Chevron appears to be trying to make them fit in better with their surroundings. Plus, it appears to be the only good upgrade were going to see from the recent record setting profits by most of the oil companies.

While on the topic of Chevron, I figure I’ll disclose the results of a highly unscientific experiment I’ve been conducting. On a hunch that fuel from certain companies improves the gas mileage of my otherwise efficient vehicle, I sought out on a quest to see which mojo provided my car with the best results. Perhaps it’s the techron or simply a figment of my car’s imagination, but, when using Chevron gasoline, my car consistently displayed higher MPGs. For the basis of my “study” I also tried Shell, Mobil, BP, Chavez Juice Citgo, and Valero on various occasions and under diverse conditions…

My Flickr...

10/20/06

News Briefs

  • A Miami-Dade Transit project alongside Metrorail at the Douglas Rd. Station fell apart recently due to a failed agreement between the agency and the developer. Instead, the transportation agency is now looking to sell the off land, rather than open up the 5 acre parcel for new transit oriented development bids from other developers. The plan to sell the land is a shortsighted and a terrible decision by the transportation agency. The agency is clearly failing to see the big picture here, even admitting that a sale would allow a developer to construct on the land without including easements for buses or parking for Metrorail riders. The long-term benefits of retaining the parcel and leasing it out for development (much like the dadeland complexes) would maximize the potential earnings of the MDT owned land and usage of public transit facilities. Re-zoning the land which is considered a special transit zone, would likely significantly decrease the potential for a mixed use, high density development which would contain affordable housing and office space. Once again, we all lose when our local agencies lack a clear vision…
  • Cirque Du Soleil has officially rescinded their bid to transform the Jackie-Gleason Theater into their latest human acrobatic circus. I always had mixed feelings about the plan, fearing that the circus was wrongfully seeking too much public money for their private venture. The contact breakout clauses they were also seeking were quite worrisome. However, I did see the potential ability for the venue to become a tourist attraction, something our area is in desperate need of to keep our tourism industry churning…MVB has an intersting idea...
  • Broward County Officials have unveiled a spending plan for the possible transit tax money which could soon be flowing into the county’s transit agency. Aside from bus enhancements, though, the plan lacks a clear outline of any possible rail lines. It appears that BCT officials do not have a clear sense of what they wish to accomplish with their county’s tax either…
  • Rebecca Carter of Greener Miami recently attended the Re-Energize America event; an event designed to increase awareness and educate citizens on the benefits of green policy and green technology in the United States. Mayor Diaz stressed the importance of conserving our natural resources in the city and talked about a possible adaptation of Miami 21 to include ecologically friendly regulations. And, as Alesh pointed out, not a single building in Miami can be considered green. Absolutely pathetic…
  • Richard of Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space has an interesting article on the general failure of the pedestrian mall in the United States. Why have they failed? Because we don’t know how to build our cities properly; a successful pedestrian mall shouldn’t be a commercial enterprise, rather, a phenomenon which occurs on its own due to regular pedestrian traffic. You can relate it to the strip shopping center in today’s world which caters so well to vehicular traffic…
  • You may notice a slight change in the format starting tomorrow…yes, on a Saturday…as I begin an attempt to post on weekends (I was encouraged by Rick to do so quite some time ago.) However, I plan on avoiding transit/planning issues over the weekend, choosing to go offbeat with other stories which often catch my interest…Suggestions are welcomed…
  • As always, if you have comment, question, or idea feel free to send me a digital telegram (MoveMiami@gmail.com) Keep up the excellent discussions…

10/19/06

Miami Gem



From the Collection of James Good...

10/17/06

Transit Tuesday: Back on Track

I’m thrilled to hear that the Miami Roads Neighborhood Civic Association is filled with transportation and urban planners which are going to save Miami from its quandary to build a $200 Million streetcar. Here come our knights in shining armor from the single family home area of the roads, distributing fliers full of propaganda speaking about the effects of streetcars in urban areas. Give me a break!

First off let’s talk about the benefits of Streetcars. They are clean, efficient, and environmentally friendly forms of transportation. Running on electric power (which, ok, may have been created by fossil fuels elsewhere) they remove the highly unattractive diesel buses from the streets. When implemented properly, streetcars have been known to bring further urban growth and revitalization to blighted neighborhoods. Removing the buses from the streets also creates a more pleasant atmosphere for pedestrians, sidewalk café establishments, and pretty much any other outdoor activity. Streetcars run on tracks built into the streets and are typically equipped with an intelligent street light timing device which keeps the lights changing in their favor, to ensure that the vehicle keeps moving at a constant rate. Lastly, (though I can’t find the article I read which supports this) streetcars make sense economically, requiring less maintenance/fuel than a bus traveling the same route.

So, what do the members of the Miami Roads Neighborhood Civil Engineering Civic Association propose? Buses! Typical NIMBY response…I swear it’s like a disease that has spread north from the Grove. Buses aren’t going to solve a thing kids…It’s been proven time and time again that people (North Americans in particular) have a severe aversion to riding a bus. It’s mental, I know, so let’s spend the $200 Million on some more buses and psychotherapy instead.

Winsome Bowing, a Transportation Planning Manager knows what he’s talking about:

''We've seen through studies that buses don't generate riders,'' Bowen said. ``This is about bringing more pedestrians to our city streets, which we have to have to make our downtown work.''

It’s about creating a new urban fabric for our city. The streetcar makes urban life possible and permanently establishes an alternative which negates the use of vehicles as the primary mode of transportation in our urban core. The streetcar isn’t a step forward, but merely a correction of the catastrophic mistake made in the 1940’s when the original Miami Transit Company streetcar was dismantled in favor of buses.

Miami Streetcar, Paving the Way for Intelligent Growth




Given Yesterday's article on the upcoming streetcar propsal in Miami and the obvious opposition to the propsed system, I have decided to post a video of Portland's streetcar (video found by Ryan.) The Portland Streetcar system is nearly 5 miles long and is the first modern streetcar system in the United States. The streetcar shares the roads with vehicles as well as pedestrians as it crosses through areas designated soley for foot traffic. Like Miami, Portland also had a successful Trolley system until the late 1940's, when buses were favored over the train routes. The initial daily boarding for the Portland system was estimated to be 3,000 riders, a number which was quickly surpassed within the first few months of operation to 6,000 daily riders. The Portland system was almost entirely funded by local dollars and required minimal federal funding (Less than $5 Million.) In its first 5 years of operation the city of Portland has experienced a great deal of urban renewal along the streetcar loop, spurring growth and development in pedestrian friendly ways. The similarities between the two cities and systems are astounding...


The City of Miami and the FDOT are hosting a final public hearing on the Miami streetcar initiative today
from 6-8 p.m. at the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave. I hope the demonstration of the Portland Streetcar has convinced enough of you that the benefits of this project would surpass the costs...

10/16/06

Meetings

  • FDOT Meeting Notice- Monday, October 16, 2006 - Community Meeting on the upcoming construction project on Biscayne Boulevard, from N.E. 67th Street to N.E. 78th Street. Location- Legion Parl Community Center (6447 NE 7th Ave., Miami) 6:30 PM
  • Miami Town Hall to address Oil Dependence and Global Warming Location- Storer Auditorium, UM Campus (5250 University Drive, Coral Gables) 6PM (Via Greener Miami)

Don't Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out...

``You don't come into the Orange Bowl playing that stuff. You're across the ocean over there. You're across the city over there. You can't come over to our place talking noise like that. You'll get your butt kicked. I was about to go down the elevator and get into that thing.''

Apparently if you walk into the broadcast booth talking that kind of stuff, you too will get your butt kicked. As the ACC announced the suspension of 31 players involved in Saturday's mess, Comcast Sports did some house cleaning of their own by promptly firing Lamar Thomas, the color commentator and former Miami wide receiver...So Long Lamar!

10/15/06

The Easy way onto ESPN

My Saturday evening was spoiled as I surfed through the news channels only to see Miami’s finest athletes duking it out with one another at the Orange Bowl. I guess Miami Fight Night came a few months early this year. I’m disheartened not because I am a Hurricane or a Golden Panther, but because I am a Miamian and that game reflected poorly upon Miami more than anything else.

The Golden Panthers tarnished one of their greatest opportunities to enter the realm of the college rivalry through their actions this weekend. They should look north to their closest “rival”, UCF, which handled itself magnificently earlier this year at a 42-0 beat down by the Gators in the Swamp. Like the Golden Panthers, the Knights are a team looking to build a program within one of the most dominant football states in the country. The key to either team’s success will be the amount of respect they can gain from their peers; which can only be attained by winning games, not fights.

The crowd reaction was second on the scale of pathetic only to that of the commentating performance of Lamar. In who’s house Lamar? Last time I watched a great rivalry, I witnessed nothing but character, passion, and a great display of emotion from both teams and fans, even the losing team, not a ridiculous fracas. Someone should have cut his mic before he further humiliated himself, UM, and the whole city of Miami. As for the fans cheering throughout the madness, I see it as nothing other than a grim reminder of how much our education system needs to improve in the greater Miami area. As a fan of the game and someone who is pulling for the success of both teams, I was utterly ashamed of the way the stadium reacted and ultimately represented the character (or lack there of) of the students and alumni of both schools. By the way Canes' Fans: Thug U, isn't something you'd want to be proud of, it just further diminishes the value of your degree...

Thanks for the negative publicity guys. Here is one rivalry I won’t be looking forward to next year…

Note: Did anyone else notice that the Golden Panthers apparently decided to unleash their prowess on the mightiest Hurricane of them all: the kicker…

Video via SOTP...

10/12/06

The Metrorail Doesn’t Go Anywhere: Myth Busted

After a long hiatus, Ryan, the Sprawl Hater is back to bust a popular myth here in South Florida that “the metrorail doesn’t go anywhere”. While it may be true that the Metrorail doesn’t go everywhere that it should, you can’t say that it doesn’t go anywhere, either. Yes, we absolutely should have metrorail, light rail, or similar form of mass transit going directly to the airport, FIU, Dolphins Stadium, Miami Beach, Little Havana, and Midtown, among other places. (Note: The two new extensions to be built within the next 5-10 years, however flawed, will finally service FIU, the airport, and Dolphins Stadium). Nonetheless, if you live within about a half a mile of a metrorail station from Allapattah south, you should be able to use metrorail for just about anything. Even if you live north of Allapattah, you could still use metrorail for all of the same reasons, it’s just going to take you a few extra minutes.

That’s right, I’m making the argument that if you live along the metrorail line from Allapattah station south (for convenience), you should be able to live relatively comfortably without a car.

So, here we go:

Since we all get hungry, and even need to eat on occasion, (or six times a day like me) groceries are a must. Good thing - Publix is located in Brickell and Dadeland; Milam’s is in the Grove; Winn Dixie is at Sunset Place. However, after a long day at work many of us wouldn’t mind going out to eat instead of chicken for the 27th consecutive night; good news again - there’s hundreds of restaurants and take out joints scattered around most of the metrorail stations. Whether you’re jonesing for Cheesecake factory or The Big Cheese, you can get there via metrorail. Wanna catch a movie after dinner? We’ve got AMC Sunset at (you guessed it) Sunset Place or AMC Cocowalk if you’re closer to the Grove. Rather watch the movie in the comfort of your own home? Blockbuster is at Brickell (Brickell station) and the University of Miami (University station), and Super Star Video is right across the street from the Grove Station. Rather hit up the bar or the club instead of doing the movie? Sunset Place and Coconut Grove have plenty of bars plus some clubs, while Park West downtown has clubs like Metropolis, Pawn Shop, and Space - all easily accessible via metrorail or metromover.

Perhaps it’s the weekend now and you’re making plans. If the ‘Canes are in town, you can catch a game at the OB, courtesy of metrorail (Culmer station). You’ll be laughing all the way to the bank (which, by the way can be found near most stations) as you walk by disgruntled superfans caught in traffic jams (how on earth does the city allow the 12th avenue drawbridge to go up three times in the hour before kickoff???) and about to pay through the nose for parking on some random guy’s property. If it’s basketball season, you can catch your NBA champion Heat at the AAA - again without the hassle of driving/parking. Perhaps you’re more of the cultured type; metrorail will take you to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Space Transit Planetarium, and the Miami Museum of Science (has anyone seen the Titanic?) Why not a nightcap? Metromover (via metrorail) will drop you off right by our brand new Carnival Performing Arts Center, where you can catch a broadway show or an opera.

Now that it’s Sunday, you might want to relax and read a good book. Metrorail will wisk you to Barnes and Noble at Sunset Place if you’re looking to buy or to the Miami-Dade Public Library Main Branch Downtown if you’ve got a library card (damn those late fees, though). Of course, the wife or the girlfriend may have other plans in store for you. Fellas, as we know, this usually means some sort of shopping is involved. If she wants jewelry, you can take her downtown to the Miami Jewelry district (not Sunday, though - I think it’s closed). For pretty much anything else (clothes, shoes, electronics, sporting goods, home décor, or general goods) you should be able to find at either Dadeland Mall, Dadeland North Station (Target, Best Buy, Sports Authority, Bed Bath & Beyond), Macy’s or Ross’ (Downtown), Sunset Place, Cocowalk, or Mayfair in the Grove. If you’re the parsimonious type, you may want to check out the Northside Flea Market (Northside station).

Unfortunately, Sunday also means some of the more mundane chores. Chances are if you live near a metrorail station, a laundromat will be nearby if you’ve got dirty clothes. Time to renew medication? Walgreens and CVS can be found along the metrorail as well. Hair starting to look like Colin Farrell in Miami Vice? Get to a barbershop (or salon) fast - they’re located along the metrorail line, too.

On Monday, instead of waking up to face a dreaded commute you can get some extra sleep and read the newspaper on the train. After that long weekend of eating out, partying, and stadium food, you’ll probably want to hit up the gym after work - LA Fitness at Sunset Place, Shaq Fitness & Grove Fitness in Coconut Grove, among others.

So, if you’re tired of hours long commutes from the suburbs accompanied by all the lost time, stress, lost sleep, and other calamities that go along with living an autocentric lifestyle, think about moving near one of the metrorail stations, where you have the power to render congestion irrelevant, save money, and experience the city from a tangible perspective. If you’re reading this and live a half-mile from a station, I’m sorry but you no longer can use the excuse that “metrorail doesn’t go anywhere”.

The Miami Mystery: Myth Busted

That guy from Transit Miami has a few thoughts on the Miami Mystery for that other guy from White Dade and his readers. Let’s begin by defining what the Miami Mystery actually is as defined by the Best of Miami, by The Miami New Times in 2002:

No one can adequately explain the day-long, perpetual traffic jam on the westbound Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) just after you pass over Le Jeune Road and Miami International Airport appears on the north side of the road. This is our Bermuda Triangle, the place where time inexplicably vanishes. There never appears to be a good reason for the sudden crush of cars slowing to a crawl -- no accident, no disabled vehicle, no construction. It just is. Could there be some unknown force field that compels Miami drivers to drop to school-zone speed (which, ironically, they rarely observe in actual school zones)? What up, Miami?

The Miami Mystery is likely the result of several highway planning fiascos which were committed when the Dolphin expressway was hastily constructed between 1967 and 1969. The Dolphin expressway epitomizes the many failures of the Florida Department of Transportation, especially at a time when vehicular traffic was seemingly increasing exponentially.

Let’s begin at 42nd Avenue. Sadly, the Dolphin expressway was never completed; it was originally slated to contain a North-South portion which would easily deposit motorists in Miami International Airport (similar in design and function to that of state road 112.) Note: As part of the Miami Intermodal Center Development, the FDOT is currently transforming part of LeJeune into a private access road, complete with express lanes which will easily (and 40 years later) connect the Dolphin expressway with the airport and Miami Intermodal Center. The implications of this North-South arterial are still evident today with widespread congestion on LeJeune (a local road) and the Dolphin expressway.

Moving to the opposite end of the major congested part of the Dolphin (72nd Avenue) we are suddenly confronted with a multitude of cluster fucks. Where should I begin? Perhaps the fact that motorists who were traveling North on the 826 and wished to travel west, would have to head east, exit on 72nd Avenue, and get back on heading west. Or perhaps it was the sudden bottleneck that was caused by merging lanes immediately after the two expressways linked? In either case, both are the cause of huge area traffic ties ups. MDX and the FDOT are currently working to finally link the both expressways properly with a new interchange. Advanced signage and lanes have already been created to stream passengers who are heading west on the dolphin to the right lanes to connect with the Palmetto heading North. The merging lanes which create the bottleneck still exist much to my dismay and are designed to be long to minimize the conflict caused by the merging traffic. I’ve come to find however, contrary to the standards published in the Highway Capacity Manual, that Miami drivers often fare worse with longer merging queues due to the aggressive nature of most Miami drivers.

So, we’ve covered the issues which plague both ends of the major congestion along the dolphin, now let’s discuss what’s in between. Sightseeing. Studies have shown that beautiful sights “entertain” drivers, causing them to slow down, leave greater headroom between them and the car in front of them, and ultimately diminish the volume of cars that can pass through the expressway. Enter Noise barriers. Ok, well not to that extent, but the barrier walls of the center median of the 836 have already been raised in height with the north barrier soon to follow. The walls will attempt to minimize the sightseeing or some cases drag racing of airplanes which are taking off. There are few conflict points otherwise in this section of the highway, however, the long merge lanes (west bound exit lane for 57th avenue and exit lane eastbound for 42nd avenue) are posing (in my eyes) as grave conflict points for the overly tenacious Miami commuter. Ever watch motorists traveling westbound on the Dolphin exit on 37th avenue only to travel west on 14th street and get right back on at Lejuene, where of course they are deposited into an exit only lane that they had no clue was an exit until they are about to enter the cloverleaf off ramp at 57th avenue?

Much to White Dade’s suspicions the 836 was renamed after the Miami Dolphin’s success in the mid 70’s. It turns out that The Miami Mystery wasn’t much of a mystery to begin with, just another case of terrible planning. The Dolphin expressway is currently undergoing a massive and much needed overhaul to replace many of the issues which I cited above. It will never be a flawless thoroughfare, given the awfully close proximity of the exits east of 57th Avenue but the changes should try and streamline the highway as much as possible (although since it’s a highway, I wouldn’t expect much of an improvement until a rail alternative is built.) In addition, it is currently being extended west to 137th avenue to further placate the needs of commuters living in sprawland. Future plans may also include managed lanes, a service where lanes are dedicated for commuters who wish to pay an additional hefty toll (like $10 each way on California managed lanes) to access “extra” lanes. Great question White Dade, if any other experiments of Miami mysteries suddenly arise, don’t hesitate to ask, the name is Gabriel…

-To Learn More about the Lejuene Improvements, click here to watch a video on the Miami Intermodal Center construction...

-Photo Courtesy of Interstate Guide.


10/10/06

Movin on up

Recent articles in the herald have covered the topic of new urbanism, a type of regional planning which I stand by, so long as it is done correctly. We all know that in the greater Miami area things are often not done this way, let alone actually planned properly, the new urbanism projects are no exception. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are much better than the sprawling strip shopping centers, single family home subdivisions, and everything else we tend to find rising in the western parts of the county, but, they still have a multitude of flaws.

Dadeland Station
Dadeland station was a prime example of the urbanization of our retail industry. It’s the first vertical big-box retail mall of its kind in our area and prime example of how we can use our land and resources much more effectively. Using just seven acres of land, we are able to easily vertically integrate five big-box stores along with smaller specialty shops, rental units, and parking garages. It’s built within a convenient distance from Metrorail too. However, here lies one of our main obstacles. The integration of Metrorail with the structure is haphazard and gives the appearance of an afterthought. It’s covered walkway, although protects pedestrians from the weather, is nothing more than a cheap tarp anchored by a couple of metal poles. The scene is just as uninviting for those visiting Dadeland mall, they are forced to cross the parking lot- a constant reminder that pedestrian needs are secondary to vehicular accommodations.

Midtown Miami
2,900 parking spaces. No public transit. Enough said. This complex thus far is looking like a nightmare for the area streets. The newly constructed sidewalks aren’t faring much better either seeing that they lack any cohesive covered portico which would make walking through the area feasible and pleasant in all types of weather (look at Miracle Mile in the Gables as a positive example.) The developer also neglected on street parking, a vital component to any real urban center.

Shops at Mayfair & Las Olas Riverfront
These are two are older attempts to create lifestyle centers in the community. We’ve seen how poorly they both have fared so far, facing a glut of retail space without sufficient amount of space allotted for residential or office components. “Parking issues” plague both complexes along with a serious need for public transit.

This article builds upon a term I have come to hate; Town Center. A town center has become in my mind a euphemism for a Nimby-like community which is giving a half-assed attempt to create an urban culture, with sufficient parking for all Mercedes Benzes of course. Town Centers build upon the urban concept without factoring in public transit, mobility, or any other neighborhood in the vicinity. They do have some advantages; making individual community centers easier to link by public transit if the funds ever become available. However, I still believe there wouldn’t be a use for the town center concept if we hadn’t abandoned our actual main cities and downtowns to begin with…

10/8/06

Mediocre Marlins Management

What a busy news weekend. Greater Miami has discovered the wheel New Urbanism. I finally got the chance to pass by the Carnival Center and I must say it is truly remarkable when illuminated at night. I’ll cover these issues and reply to some "fan Mail" I received over the weekend later this week or maybe even today, but in the meantime let’s get the week started off right: I’m going to accept the nominations I received for today’s Maricon Monday Award. Here is a letter I wrote to Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins’ Owner who has befuddled most of us lately with some of his moves…Oh, please pardon the blatant sarcasm…

Dear Jeffrey Loria,

I just thought that I would let you know that I plan on attending more games next season than the 1 game I regretfully attended this season. As a loyal fan, I often look to your dedication to the Greater Miami area as an inspiration for my writing on my website. You are a true role model to all future business leaders and an excellent example of just how to operate a major league baseball franchise. Let’s cut the BS though, that move to fire the guy who could possibly become the manager of the year was gutsy, I mean who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of people who agree with every one of your thoughts just because you are paying them to do so? I’m most interested in your stadium plans, however, since I do care most about the development issues occurring in my backyard. Yes, I consider Las Vegas as part of my backyard, I’m so glad you asked. But, you know, if Vegas or San Antonio don’t suit your needs, well, you can always use a few hundred million from Miami-Dade County to fund a stadium on some cheap rural land in Hialeah or Homestead. And, don’t worry; I’m certain that parking lot space will be plentiful so that you may wreak havoc on the local area traffic, aquifer, natural landscape, etc. Oh, and don’t pay attention to what other major league franchisees have done, building a stadium deep in the most urban part of the city has yet to prove successful for Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland, Toronto, Texas, Houston, Atlanta, or pretty much any other team in the league except Tampa. Driving for nearly an hour in congested traffic for 80 home games makes perfect sense to me as a dedicated and loyal Marlins fan. In any case, keep up the great work; I can’t wait to see the T-ballers out on the field next year…

Marlins President David Sampson reiterated last week that Jeffrey Loria refuses to sell the team. Heck, even with one of the lousiest attendance figures, the Marlins are still netting Loria $3 million a season, according to Forbes Magazine. They are still playing the “dedicated to SF” card, but the organization has yet to really come up with any additional ideas on how to close the funding gaps for a new stadium, leaving the dirty work up to us. Look, once again, I propose we build the stadium in a densely populated area without a roof. We find a couple of people/organizations who want to become minority stakeholders in the company and possibly sell off the naming rights to the new stadium (Miccosukee Indians sure do love to smear their name all over the Fins Park…)

10/5/06

Random Thoughts on Bad Ballpark Ideas

Ok, don't listen to me. We've already proven that Marlins Management is fully capable of making horrendous decisions regarding baseball; why not let them decide how to plan our cities? I mean, after all, it's not like I haven't spent the better part of my life studying transportation engineering or urban planning. I even read traffic flow analysis reports and look over project plans with my spare time, there's no way in heck that I, some random blogger would know why a stadium in Pembroke Park would be a complete catastrophe.

Some time ago, Marlins' management decided through a very unscientific study that the main reason people were not attending their games was because of the lack of a dome on Joe Robbie Stadium Pro Player Park Dolphins Stadium Huizenga's House of sports. Well, the findings were only partially correct. The other factors which they negated to analyze include: location and proximity of the stadium to the areas with the densest population, impact of the highly unpopular roster purging technique, availability of public transit, etc

I don't know how many times I'd have to say it but hopefully this one will be the charm: Baseball is an urban game; it belongs in areas with dense populations surrounding it and within easy reach of multi-modes of transportation.

Now, a park in Pompano Park would be as big of a disaster as Hialeah keeping the Marlins in Huizenga's House of sports and I'll tell you why:

  1. Although geographically centered, the site is not centered with respect to the population in the Greater Miami region.
  2. It's in Suburbia.Period.The population of Pompano Park is 5,314...
  3. No Public transit. Yeah I see Tri-rail as an option, its close enough, but its not bringing passengers right to the front door
  4. Racino? Hmm, ulterior motives?
  5. Funding. Broward commissioners (and many residents on the sun-sentinel's discussion boards) refuse to use county funds to aide construction.

If you take a look at the recent trends in Major league baseball, all the new (and old stadiums for that matter) are located in the downtowns of their respective cities (St. Louis, San Francisco, Detroit, etc.) People in these cities typically attend games after work, saving them the hassle of a rush hour commute in the afternoon or a cross-town journey to watch a bunch of minor leaguers play.

The biggest argument I hear is "well, all the Marlins fans come from Broward anyways..." Yes, and look at how many of them have been showing up recently, about 12,000 per game despite the fact that the stadium is on the way home for many of them to begin with. Many Miami-Dade residents have ceased to support the team due to the ridiculous drive north we would have to endure. A stadium in downtown would capture the local population base (the densest base in the Greater Miami region) as well as all the Broward commuters who travel south daily to work. I've heard countless business professionals saying "I'd stay in the city to watch the game, just to avoid the dreaded commute every evening..." It would also be served by the Metrorail and Metro Mover, as well as any passenger trains which begin to travel on the FEC tracks...

Look, I propose we build the stadium somewhere where population is dense, transit is an option, and vehicles are not the priority (people are.) I think we should cut our costs too and build it initially without the retractable roof, to minimize the use of public money. Then, in a few years, once the fan base returns and the team has proven that it is profitable and committed to the greater Miami community, we can add the retractable roof. If the stadium is located somewhere near the coast, the afternoon showers which form over the everglades should hardly be much of a concern to begin with. Oh, and it should be a ballpark, not some casino sports megaplex, we should have retail, office, and residential space surrounding the stadium...

10/4/06

Take a Ride on the Tri-Rail, Free

Better late than never (Via SOTP)…Tomorrow Tri-Rail is free due to a national promotion similar to the Dump the Pump Promotion we saw earlier this summer. The Sun-Sentinel reports that tri-rail ridership has increased by 36% since the beginning of the summer. I attribute the increase to either a) the general commuter is frustrated with traffic and rising gas prices or b) the completed double tracking of tri-rail has increased its efficiency and scheduled arrival times to a point where tri-rail can now become a useful and reliable alternative for the typical North-South Commuter…

10/3/06

The Sky is Falling!

  • Well you know there has to be some serious structural issues going on when one of the few Marlins’ fans gets nailed by a 4 inch chunk of concrete at a game recently. Heck, it’s not even like the stadium has been under some extenuating circumstances recently given the typical attendance of Marlins and Dolphins games.
  • Jeffery Loria is out of his mind. You don’t get rid of the guy who is arguably the best manager in the league just because you can’t get past some of your own personal issues. If Girardi is fired today, it would be yet another stain in the clubs’ history and yet another reason why I will continue to not support the franchise. With such erratic decisions, it’s easy to see why the Marlins have yet to finalize plans to stay in Miami

Carnival Center Area Revitalization, Revisited


Recent coverage by The Miami Herald has centered on the possibilities the Carnival Center will offer the city and immediate surroundings. The Performing Arts Center of Miami can and most likely will serve as a catalyst for positive urban renewal in the Wynwood district. The Carnival Center will probably reshape Miami in a fashion similar to that of the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, another city which depends on vehicles as a primary mode of transportation. However, to properly maximize the potential of revitalizing a blighted neighborhood, we should turn to Berlin and the Potsdamer Platz area which was physically divided by the Berlin wall. The Potsdamer area is also home to the Berliner Philharmonie, built in the early 1960s and served as the focal point to the area revitalization in the 1990s, a full 30+ years later. Potsdamer Platz is now home to the Sony Center; a large, $800 Million mixed use retail and office complex partly designed by Helmut Jahn. The Sony Center, with its large and colorful domed exterior is home to an assortment of sidewalk cafes, offices, hotels, art museums, as well as an IMAX and 40 screen movie theater complex. No massive parking garages. No big box retail complexes which deter pedestrian activity. There is actually only one rail line which offers access to the area and yet the plaza still experiences 70,000 daily visitors. So far, we’ve created a cultural jewel in the heart of a newly emerging part of our city, but we have failed miserably at steering positive urban growth. We should look to the success of other similar projects in other cities rather than blindly building parking garages with bright light advertisements or random condominium towers. The Potsdamer complex brought in a healthy mix of local corporations (Sony, Daimler, Deutsche Bahn), hotels, tourist attractions, cultural space, and retail. The new growth in the region has mushroomed around the philharmonic center, a park, and a new museum (sound familiar?)…

Also, I can’t help but point out the negative and seemingly bitter tone portrayed by the Sun-Sentinel recently. Instead of highlighting the positive impacts the Carnival Center will have on the whole community, they chose to focus on the cost over-runs and delays which plagued it before discussing the upcoming efforts by Orlando to build a new Performing Arts Center…Thanks for really reaching out to the Miami-Dade readers guys! Keep segmenting the counties and municipalities...


The above photo of the Carnival Center was taken by none other than James Good. It is certainly better than the picture Rick was able to snap of a new hideous Bustelo Billboard which blocks the view of the center from the south. I’m still recovering from the sight of it Rick…

To see more pictures of the Potsdamer Platz Area in Berlin in 2005, please visit my flickr account...

10/2/06

Mark Foley, now living in a Van down by the river...

So, what’s going on with all the perverts lately? I’ve seen several of the dateline specials where they’ve set up some stings here in Florida to catch sexual predators, but somehow Mark didn’t show up. But then again, given the amount of people caught in those dateline shows, I gather that it is safe to assume that they need an able body representative in congress too. Someone has to fight for the rights of middle aged perverted men with fantasies of teenage boys, right? Apparently Foley didn’t have any shame in asking 16 year old boys about their sexual experiences and other such matter that we’ve deemed to be the norm for a congressman. Not surprisingly, Foley resigned from office last Friday (with a very detailed letter of resignation) as the media coverage began to pick up and the details of his AIM chats were exposed...

I’m beginning to get the picture that many of our congressmen simply have too much time on their hands. AIM sessions? What do they have wi-fi in the congress chambers so that our reps can “keep in touch with” molest the public's kids? The story gets worse though. Apparently other members of congress were aware of Foley’s behavior and chats with 16 year old boys and well, they didn’t do anything about it. Heck guys, not even a Perverts anonymous meeting? This is pathetic; I’m ashamed that a negative media spotlight has been cast yet again on another South Florida Pervert Politician…

Blog Updates

Some of you might notice that I’ve been fiddling around with the sidebar lately. I switched to bloglines to keep things better organized and now feature blogs appearing in the order of most recent content, which is far better than clicking on random sites to see what is new. I’ve also been reading more National Transportation/Development blogs lately which I’ve decided to share with you all in the Transportation Blogs area. As usual, if you have anything to contribute to Transit Miami (Links, Articles, personal stories, etc.) feel free to e-mail me: movemiami@gmail.com.

Also, check out the Miami-Dade County MOVN website where you can share your thoughts/ideas with County Transportation leaders on the Miami-Dade site…