Posts by: Community Commentary

This post was submitted to us this morning by Patricia Peña.

Dadeland mall is probably one of the biggest landmarks that Miami has, right next to South Beach and the Triple A (well, at least in my opinion). When it first opened in the 80s, it was the beginning of Miami’s eternal love with suburban sprawl, which has resulted in Kendall, a place that most Miamians have a love/hate relationship with. You can’t wait to get out of Kendall, but you’ll rep it until the day you die, in true Miami style! Sunset Knights, wha what?! Sorry, that was a momentary lapse…

Back to Dadeland. In the last few years, they have tried to revitalize the area, rebrand it as Downtown Dadeland (it’s unincorporated Miami-Dade, let’s not kid ourselves) and try to make it into a small, bustling metropolis with multi-use buildings, restaurants and shops. And try as they might, it just isn’t happening. When my husband and I moved to the area about five years ago, we did so because my job at the time offered me a free monthly pass to the Metro-Rail, so we became a one car family and I was thrilled with the idea that I could walk to Target or Publix to get what we needed whenever he was away at work with the car. I got one of those little carts that you see old people walking around with. A lady at work offered to bedazzle it. It was fabulous, don’t judge me. So here I go, all excited to get my groceries. And then…. BAM!! I encountered Kendall Drive. Now, for those of you that are not familiar with this lovely thoroughfare, it’s a pedestrian’s worst nightmare. Think of George in the episode of Seinfeld when he gets the Frogger machine.

The Dadeland area has the potential of being a truly amazing area to live, work and play in. It’s flanked by two, count ‘em: two, Metro Rail stops. There are apartments galore, some that are still mostly empty, the mall is currently undergoing a massive renovation to add more restaurants. And yet, you can’t get anywhere walking without saying five Hail Mary’s, two Our Father’s and crossing yourself the entire time. I’ve seen old ladies, moms with strollers, dad’s dragging kids and tourists all trying to cross unscathed. As expected, this is a three-lane road, that feeds into the Palmetto (don’t even get me started on that disaster!) and speeding is not only rampant, it’s expected! Now, we all know that reducing the number of lanes will in turn reduce the speed, increase walkability, and increase traffic into stores, etcetera. But, I’m a simple woman, I don’t ask for much. I know that that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. So I’m asking for smaller things. You know what I would like? I would like a crossing light that lasts more than 10 seconds. I can’t even get halfway before the flashing hand stops! I would like the streetlights to be synchronized in a way that makes sense, so people can feel safe crossing from their hotel to the mall. I know if it makes sense, we don’t do it here in Miami-Dade County. But once, just once, can we try? South Miami did it, and look how great it’s working out for them. I would just like to be able to go the Target at the Dadeland station, without fearing for my life and getting honked at every five seconds (which is more to do with the fabulous drivers we have here, but that’s another topic for another time). Seriously, I’m not asking for much, just some good old fashioned common sense and to think of the people that are outside of the metal boxes, who are worth just as much as the ones inside. That and world peace. Oh, and some Louboutins!

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This email was sent to us this morning by a  Transit Miami reader…

 

Hello, fellow riders! I am an avid reader of your blog. It makes me feel more connected to the town, more aware of what’s going on in terms of being green, helping the environment, and being safe as a bicycle rider.

I try to do my part and try to limit the use of my car, so I ride my motorcycle to work every day (much better gas mileage!). Today I did an experiment and rode my bicycle to work. While the ride was very pleasant and took only 5 minutes more than my regular commute (I live 20 blocks away), when I arrived at my work building (Miami Center, 201 S Biscayne Blvd), I found a very resistant, rude attendant at the loading dock, which is the only place of entry I could find someone, since the garage is off limits.

The woman went on to ask me what I was doing there, which I replied, ” I work here”. Then she asks, ” Are you new?”  To which I replied, “No, I just decided to come to work in my bicycle today.”  After looking at me as if I was an alien, she went on to say that I was not allowed in the loading dock, that they do not have places to park bicycles, that I could put it next to a rail in the back, but they were not responsible for it.  Super nice experience!

I have tried in the past sending emails to the building management, to my general manager, asking him to request that we have a place for motorcycles in the building, to no avail. All the building management replies is that right now they don’t have plans to give tenants that type of facility.

I have worked at the One Biscayne Tower, where they did have a place for bikes and motorcycles, and now I resort to park my motorcycle at the 200 S Biscayne Blvd building (Wells Fargo), where they also have a reserved placed for bikers, with very nice and cordial full time security guards. I park there by using social engineering and telling them I work in their building.

Here at Miami Center we used to be able to park outside, and then one day they decided we couldn’t anymore, started threatening all of us with tow notices, and never gave an alternative.

It would be great if you could give us a voice and make management get with the program, and help their tenants be green!

Thanks

Christian

 

The City of Miami Beach will be hosting two public meetings next week (June  5 and June 7) to kickoff the process of updating the bicycle network plan (officially titled the Atlantic Greenways Network Master Plan).  The meeting will include a discussion of the update process and a presentation the Street Plans Collaborative on the latest best practices in bicycle and pedestrian street design  from all around the country. (NOTE: The time for the June 5 meeting was moved to 6 pm!)

 

You’re Invited to MIAMIBEACH’s Bicycle Summits

Atlantic Greenway Network Master Plan Update

The City of Miami Beach will be hosting two (2) public summits to discuss efforts to update the adopted Atlantic Greenway Network (AGN) Master Plan. The summits will focus on obtaining input from Miami Beach residents on the bicycle component of the adopted AGN Master Plan in order to assist the City in updating the plan.

Summit 1
Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Time: 6:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
Place: North Shore Park and Youth Center,
501 72 Street
Miami Beach, Florida 33141

Summit 2
Date: Thursday, June 7, 2012
Time: 5:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Place: 1755 Meridian Avenue Building, third floor conference room
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Contact: Jose R. Gonzalez, P.E., transportation manager, 305.673.7080

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The City of Miami is talking parks, and they want your input.

Come out Tuesday, May 1, 2012, to José Martí Park (along the Miami River, in the heart of Miami) — time and location information below.

Ensure that your voice is heard as the future of our city’s park system is considered. Your input will help inform the park component of the City of Miami’s next Comprehensive Plan.

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Three months after Emerge Miami, Green Mobility and Bike SoMi organized a celebratation in honor of the the opening of the M-Path, the County and others have decided to throw their own shindig to celebrate the much touted M-Path. Too bad they didn’t care to coordinate with advocates in January when that ride was organized and County representatives were invited (no one from FDOT or MDT responded to invitations). This plans to be a gathering of folks who will probably never use the M-Path.  Yet another example of the disconnect between decision makers and the rest of us.

 

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We need your help now to protect the Everglades.

Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is planning to expand the 836 Dolphin Expressway west toward Krome Avenue and then south to Tamiami Airport. This project would accelerate westward development, threaten agriculture, and threaten Everglades restoration.

Please email written comments to tgarcia@mdxway.com by this Friday, January 27, 2012.

Here’s a sample comment to cut and paste or put in your own words.

I ask the MDX board to remove the 836/Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension (project 83618) from its 5-year plan. I question the necessity of the this project and am concerned about the impacts to residents, agriculture and America’s Everglades.

I believe this road is unnecessary and will actually will increase, not alleviate, congestion on SR 836. Commuters currently have the option of taking several highways into downtown Miami. The existing 836, the Florida Turnpike, the 874, the 878 and the 826. Most of these roads have been or are currently being rebuilt to handle greater capacity. Future and existing toll revenues should be used to maintain these roads and provide for public transit alternatives, not to build new roads into environmentally sensitive areas.

The project will threaten Everglades National Park and nearby federally-protected wetlands. A new layer of highway extending away from the city will fuel sprawl because of its proximity to the Urban Development Boundary. This highway would attract development of agricultural and wild lands buffering the Everglades and pose a direct threat to the $12 billion federal-state Everglades restoration project.

Name
Adrress
Phone number
Email

Tell MDX that this project will waste natural resources and exacerbate sprawl and traffic.

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Do you love the Everglades? If so, then come to a meeting tonight.

Miami Dade Expressway Authority plans to use money from existing toll roads to expand SR 836 toward Krome Avenue and south to Tamiami Airport. This puts the Everglades and the natural and agricultural buffer lands in great peril. Imagine it’s the 1950s and the Palmetto Expressway is on the drawing board. The Palmetto is built in 1961 and almost immediately the land around it is converted from farm and woodland to development. SR 836 expansion is our generation’s Palmetto. If the UDB is a development fire suppressor, this highway is an accelerant.

We need buffer lands to protect and restore the natural Everglades. Come to the meeting tonight if you can. Express your concerns about the highway.

Whether you can make it or not, stay engaged. Send us an email, give us your phone number, volunteer your help.

You are the Everglades Protector.

Details:

What: PUBLIC REVIEW TO SOLICIT INPUT ON PROPOSED FISCAL YEAR 2013-2017 WORK PROGRAM

This 5-year plan includes SR 836 Dolphin Expressway expansion.

Where: MDX Headquarters, Lehmann Building, 3790 NW 21st Street Miami, Florida 33142

Date: Tuesday, Jan. 24

Time: 6-8 PM

For more information, contact Jon Ullman at jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org or 305-860-9888

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A series of FDOT meetings were held on this week around Miami-Dade County.

First the SW 1st St Bridge reconstruction to connect East Little Havana to Downtown over the Miami River was held at the Historic Miami River Inn. The discussion included options to rehabilitate the existing bridge or replace the current 4-lane metal deck structure with a 3-lane concrete deck structure including wider sidewalks and a bike lane. This important connection will link downtown to East Little Havana. FDOT is also considering options to connect the new bridge to the existing historic footbridges that currently connect to the  Miami River Inn, a National and locally designated historic building. The new bridge will be shifted slightly north, away from the Inn,  and will include railings, lighting and a bridge tender house with historic details.

Second a new bridge is being designed to replace the Tamiami Canal Swing Bridge over the Palmer Lake entrance to the Miami River. One of only operable 3 swing bridges in Florida, the existing bridge will be relocated to Fern Isle Park to connect the park to the recent acquisition at the Police Benevolent Association. The new Delaware Parkway Bridge will connect the Miami Intermodal Center to the 2 city parks further south and will be part of the Miami river greenway network in the future phases. FDOT will be expanding the bridge to a single leaf bascule bridge including 4-lanes of traffic and NO BIKE LANES. We question why there would be no bike lanes of an expansion project between destinations. Please tell FDOT Thank you for relocating the historic bridge and please find a way to add bicycle lanes across onto Delaware Parkway.

2 Beach routes were also heard this week.
The construction of the West Ave bridge will include travel lanes, sidewalks and bicycle facilities. This is envisioned as a small scale bridge primarily for bicycle and pedestrian access.
Second, the much discusses Alton road project is the subject of major controversy as it has led the city of Miami Beach to challenge state statute 335.065 which requires FDOT to consider bicycles in their plans. This could have HUGE implications for bicyclists all over the state. We need to come together and work with FDOT to support a preferred alternative that includes bicycle facilities before we return to the stone age of having no alternative but to ride on 4′ sidewalks.

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An unreliable* Transit Miami source has informed us that an “unofficial and temporary” FEC Greenway has been inadvertently developed over the past few weeks. We received an anonymous and unverified email this past weekend with pictures of the unofficial FEC Greenway.  Our untrustworthy source tells us that he/she rode from Midtown to Downtown on a mountain bike along the FEC rail line that is currently under construction due to the Port of Miami rail expansion. Here’s an excerpt from the email we received:

 Riding from Midtown to Downtown on the FEC Greenway was an excellent and joyful experience. I rode without fear of being hit by a car. Can you imagine how great it would be if families with children could ride from midtown to downtown without fear of being run over by a car? People could even ride their bicycles to the Miami Heat games safely! An FEC Greenway would also deter crime and homelessness along the rail line as cyclists, walkers, joggers and parents with strollers would self-police the greenway. An FEC Greenway would have a transformative effect on our city and would encourage less experienced cyclists to commute to work.”

Wouldn't this make an awesome greenway?

Can you envision an FEC Greenway?  We sure can. That being said, we desperately need passenger rail service on the FEC line.  Rail is the priority, but we think there is enough right of way (100 feet) to add a permanent and official FEC Greenway. We can only dream. By the way, a greenway would be great PR for the FEC. The FEC would be wise to jump all over this opportunity and support a greenway.

Imagine arriving to a Miami Heat game by bicycle.

Our unconfirmed source suggests riding the FEC Greenway on Sundays as the FEC workers are off on this day or after 5:00pm. Also beware that riding or walking along the FEC is considered trespassing.  He/she suggests riding the FEC with a mountain bike and only intermediate riders should attempt this ride.

Single track through the city.

*We cannot confirm if these photographs are authentic or if they have been photoshopped. Perhaps we just need to get out there and find out for ourselves. Happy trails!

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Managers of Biscayne National Park are seeking public comment on proposals that could have dramatic impacts on how visitors can use park waters, including a no-fishing zone in shallow reefs off Elliott Key as well as larger no-motor and slow-speed zones across the park.

The first of three meetings will be held in Miami from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Miami, 950 NW 42nd Ave. Others follow on Wednesday at Florida City Hall, 404 W. Palm Dr., and on Thursday at Holiday Inn Key Largo, 99701 Overseas Hwy.

The public also can comment through a National Park Service website detailing the alternatives or by mailing written comments by Oct.

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We love trains and bicycles here at transit Miami. Since the FEC is currently making improvements to the existing rail line that will connect the port of Miami to an inland port in Hialeah, why not add a patch of gravel and create a greenway from midtown to downtown? This can be done very inexpensively.

Wouldn't this make a great greenway to connect midtown to downtown?

Come on FEC help us out on this one! Let’s make this happen together.

Friend of Transit Miami Brad Knoefler jumpstarted this idea a couple of years ago, but the momentum subsided. We should not allow this idea to die.

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The below article come from the spring issue of the Brickell Homeowners Association newsletter:

Residents and business owners who have heard of plans to close the left turn from Brickell Avenue to Southeast Sixth Street are not pleased with the notion. FDOT is steadfast in their intent to close the median, despite the objections raised by many who live and work in the area. Residents of 500 Brickell already have problems with motorists cutting through their valet area under their building to make a quick exit from Brickell and head west. For those at 600 Brickell, the proposed median closure at Southeast Sixth Street looks disastrous.

No one has been successful at influencing this FDOT decision — and no one has authority over FDOT locally —despite citizens’ objections and support from our local officials.

“Our position continues to be that FDOT has to listen to residents on closing Sixth Street,” Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said. FDOT representatives reported in June, however, that after studying potential alternatives and conferring with their Central office, the recommendation for the median remains unchanged. Those outside of FDOT had not seen the traffic studies leading to that decision; FDOT agreed to make the studies public.

Ever since the Brickell Avenue construction project began, Downtown Development Authority has been facilitating regular meetings with Florida Department of Transportation, Miami-Dade County and City officials and other interested parties to discuss construction issues. The goal of the meetings is to bring the different government entities around the table regularly since the roads have overlapping authorities. Each agency has their own construction and rehab projects going on in the area, but there was no coordinating body.

Stakeholders asked FDOT about the potential impact to Fifth Street as a result of the median closure. FDOT said it was not in their jurisdiction or part of the project scope to consider or study that, however, they said they would “consider” the request. The only concession by FDOT was that their plan to lengthen the Brickell median cut in for left turns at Fifth Street was scrapped. The plan had created a public uproar as they were planning to remove a mahogany tree, considered a Brickell landmark.

For now, commencement of these Phase II changes is on hold, targeted for December 2012.“Clearly differences of opinion remain, such as the closure of the median onto Sixth Street, that may have to be resolved by other means,” said Javier Betancourt, deputy director of the DDA.“We did get FDOT to agree to provide their traffic studies to all interested parties, and to continue to work with our agency in resolving obstacles to the DDA-funded decorative crosswalks all along Brickell Avenue.” BHA will continue to follow the progress of these projects and report on the latest developments.

 

While Miami’s political attention is on County charter changes, Miami-Dade County residents should consider a change that would reduce our second-largest cost of living: transportation.

Our largest cost of living, housing – at least the portion directly determined by County government, i.e. property taxes – is overseen by an official that we recently decided that we should elect.  Now any Property Appraiser must improve the lives of a majority of County residents in the area of property taxes in order to be re-elected.

This technique should by applied to the area of transportation, changing the County charter to create an elected County Transportation Director with the power and responsibility over all modes of transportation.  This would insert into County government one person whose sole political interest is to move as many County residents to destinations that matter to us.

Any candidate for County Transportation Director would have to convince a majority of voters that he or she is best able to come up with plans, and implement them, for saving us time and money by extending facilities, increasing capacity, and reducing waste.   An elected County Transportation Director would have to improve the lives of a majority of County residents in the area of transportation in order to be re-elected.

Creating an elected County Transportation Director would also address issues with the current system in which certain modes of transportation, or certain facilities, are overseen by separate County departments.  For example, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, because it only deals with toll highways, has an interest in not losing revenue to rail or buses.  Separate departments may act against such interests out of benevolence, but it would be better to remove temptation.

Transportation investment and maintenance decisions should be made on the basis of how many people could benefit, regardless of mode or facility.  An elected County Transportation Director would have every incentive to make decisions in such a way, improving mobility for all County residents and reducing our cost of living.

Submitted by Andrew Frey.

Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center is seeking community input regarding FIU’s 2005-2015 Campus Master Plan. The center is soliciting feedback as part of its evaluation of the plan.

Dario Gonzalez, a research associate with the center, has set up a Facebook discussion board to encourage an open exchange on this plan and to help develop and identify major issues, http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=19278722584&topic=16413
This discussion board will encourage comments on a new topic every few days. Gonzalez will also post related questions concerning the topic.

The Campus Master Plan provides a vision for the future development of the university and reflects the planned growth of the physical spaces at Biscayne Bay Campus, the Engineering Center and Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Metropolitan Center researchers are tasked with determining, in part, its efficacy.

“We’re working closely with the university’s Worlds Ahead Strategic Plan as part of this process,” says Gonzalez. “Now that the strategic plan has set the goals for the university, we need to make sure that the Campus Master Plan will take us there.”

“Comments can begin their own conversations. As long as they’re relevant to the topic, we encourage them,” says Gonzalez. “The goal is to inform and be informed by the FIU community.”

The first topic for discussion is housing. FIU currently houses close to 10 percent of full-time students on-campus. The number of full-time students is projected to grow by 5-6 percent annually for the next decade. Currently, the Campus Master Plan has a goal of providing housing for nearly 7,000 students by 2015. Gonzalez wants your perspective on this question: What obstacles could keep FIU from reaching this goal?

Gonzalez says every comment will be noted. Later, the comments are grouped by theme. After that, personal interviews with university leaders will be conducted. The feedback will culminate in an urban studio scheduled tentatively for fall 2011 that will be open to everyone.

In addition to Facebook, you may leave comments at the end of this news post that pertain to this discussion.

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 An expensive, unnecessary planned project:  widening 157 Avenue from two to four lanes (with raised median) from SW 152nd St. to SW 184th St. 

This lane-doubling project is an ill-advised use of a further $11 million of CITT funds. Benefits claimed for this project, like the provision of north-south connectivity, are already available now, with no investment at all.  Traffic moves without congestion the whole day, including during morning and afternoon rush hours, as can be verified by site visits. This project is in the 5-year plan presented for CITT approval today. The CITT should amend the plan to remove this project. 

The Public Works Department [PWD] plans to conclude contracts this year for utility relocation and for construction.  The CITT memo accompanying the 5-year plan recommends for this project, “that traffic studies be updated prior to immediate commencement of construction.” This is not a promising step.  It sounds like the decision is already made and the traffic study is window dressing for starting as soon as possible.  In reality, the 2006 traffic study specifically indicated comfortable traffic levels far below capacity, but that did not deter Public Works, the County Administration, and Commissioner Moss from advocating this expensive road expansion. None of the official presentations of this project to the CITT communicated that the whole west side of this road segment is agricultural land outside the Urban Development Boundary [UDB].  This bordering on the UDB makes this segment different from the already improved segments of SW 157th Ave. to the north, which pass through populated areas on both sides of the road.  By omitting this information on the UDB, the presentations withhold information needed for an intelligent decision by the CITT. 

It defies common sense to change now to a super road whose usefulness will depend on moving the UDB further west, a development which this project clearly advances.  Miami-Dade, and especially the far southwest of the county, do not need more unfinished and unsold housing.  If, sometime in the future, the UDB in this area is moved and intensive outlying development is planned, then the County already owns the land for the widening to four lanes.  Also, the County could then negotiate with developers for their contribution to the cost of doubling the lanes.

Traffic counts, valid benefit/cost analysis using a social discount rate, common sense, and site visits all support not going ahead with this project at this time. 

Here is a further word on site visits. In 2003, the first year of the CITT, member Lt. Col. Antonio Colmenares visited proposed project sites.  In District 13, he found a road widening proposal that seemed unneeded.  Commissioner Natacha Sejas, who had included the project in the People’s Transportation Plan [PTP], agreed it was a mistake.  She proposed amending the PTP to remove the project, an action which was approved by the CITT at one of its first meetings. 

Current CITT members and staff would benefit from visiting this project site on SW 157th Ave.   

So far, no one has taken up my offer to drive anyone there at the peak morning or afternoon rush hours.  Perhaps members and staff have visited there on their own and will reflect their experiences in tonight’s discussion of the 5-year plan.  Or just check with me after this meeting. On April 5, I drove to the SW 157th Ave. site.  At 5:31. p.m. I drove the northbound 2.3 miles (with two stop signs) in 3.25 minutes.  I then drove the same southbound segment at 5:36 p.m. in 3.37 minutes.  Rush-hour traffic was moving faster than the 40 mph speed limit.

As the proposed 5-year plan indicates, many key PTP promises to the public are now cancelled or delayed for decades because of the federal and local financial crises.  Because of this the CITT and County staff must exercise discernment in setting priorities and in the selection and timing of PTP projects, including those suggested by Commissioners.  Commissioner Dennis Moss and his staff originally wanted to widen SW 147th Ave. instead, but the affected residents objected.  In the rush  to define projects for the PTP, the widening was transferred to this southern portion of SW 157th Ave., but this was not at all an original priority.  The CITT could amend the 5-year plan to remove this low priority project before it is even put out for construction bids.

Newer CITT members should know that in May, 2006, the CITT on a 5-3 vote first rejected the contract for the engineering study for this project.  A month later, after a questionable procedure, the CITT reversed itself and approved the project on a 6-3 vote.  I believe the consternation in the County Government caused by the initial rejection was not because this 157th Ave. project was crucial, but because the County Government was shocked that the CITT would reject a contract.

Please contact your commissioner and let them know this is NOT A GOOD USE OF PTP dollars!

Ted Wilde, CITT member 2003-07, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee & of the Project and Financial Review Committee

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