Last night’s meeting with FDOT regarding the upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project went pretty badly. Transit Miami reader Ned does a wonderful job summarizing the meeting.

“That was a miserable meeting. Few things in life are as frustrating as taking time out of your life, to plead for sanity, to people without power to effect change, representing a bureaucracy on autopilot. There is no sense that FDOT even knows which problems a reconstruction of Brickell Avenue should solve. Their proposal does not appear to target substantive improvement in any of the myriad problems with the design of the roadway (unless perhaps its drainage?). It is obvious that the agency has no strategy in place to identify, evaluate and implement inexpensive, innovative, proven effective techniques for mitigating roadway contention among various modal users. Indeed, implicit in the whole presentation is the sickeningly 70s refrain that roads are exclusively for cars.

What is perfectly clear is that FDOT is not capable of designing a kick ass Brickell Avenue even if they wanted to. There is no more powerful indictment of that futility than for this agency to seriously propose the project as it is currently designed. It is completely irrelevant to the needs of the community. I almost feel sorry for FDOT. They are too dumb to know what to do and too proud to do what they’re told. They build the same roads today that they did 50 years ago, but can’t figure out why it doesn’t work anymore.

Miami cannot afford more bungling from FDOT. This city must have a modern infrastructure to survive, and after decades of neglect, we are now beyond the tipping point. People and businesses are staying away or leaving on the basis of Miami’s ineffective transportation network. The car monoculture is every bit as bankrupt as GM was that built it.

I would support a statewide, five year trial referendum, granting localities the option to vote, by a super majority, for a no build alternative and tax refund on FDOT projects. As it is, FDOT is not accountable for their design decisions and have no incentive to pursue alternatives. As acute as the need on Brickell Avenue is, it is better to do nothing now and hopefully something good later on, than to waste millions doing practically nothing now and nothing later either.”

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7 Responses to FDOT Totally Unprepared to Design Complete Streets

  1. Sonia says:

    Well summarized, yet I’m sorry to hear how badly the meeting went, and at the same time I’m not entirely surprised. It’s really a shame how close minded FDOT can be. Their influence is so great, yet they refuse to be influenced by the arguments of individuals who represent nothing more than improving the quality of life for the residents of Miami, specifically the hundreds, perhaps thousands who walk and bike during work and non-work hours on Brickell. It’s unfortunate that these “improvements” are really nothing more than an upgrade of bad practices that do not reflect basic human design of safety towards the pedestrian, and in that sense, technology per say, is not in balance with our needs. “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity” -A. Einstein

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  2. […] At this point, I started to feel for these FDOT employees, surrounded by vocal, angry, informed customers. Some people got really, really angry. Others attacked these people’s employer or their chosen profession with, well, some pretty effective verbal ammunition. It seems that as long as Brickell Avenue is known as Highway US-1, there will always be a conflict between those who want a safe, clean street and those who feel compelled to the single rote reply: “We can’t, that’s not up to standard.” Then again - how can we forgive those in power who do bad things, all the way just explaining,… […]

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  3. It takes such energy to keep pushing these people within the system to take to heart the incredible opportunity and responsibility of their profession. They are so tied to their cushy jobs, they forget that with power there is an obligation to do the right thing. It’s very sad, at times exceedingly frustrating and always dumbfounding.

    The people who work for FDOT are responsible for creating a safe, community-enhancing public space where thousands of children are growing up and tens of thousands of people live, work and play in everyday already. But all they see are ‘highway’ standards. It’s almost inhuman - but I disagree that it is hopeless.
    Like I wrote in my post above, even these people have to cross the street sometimes. They must know some children even if they don’t have any. I wish I could take them to San Francisco, Chicago, NY or even just Delray Beach and have them walk around Downtown. I also wish I could get them to ride a bicycle down Brickell Avenue. FDOT: I have bicycles that you can borrow and I’ll even teach you how to ride if you want!

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  4. M says:

    I think Ned was insightful in stating that FDOT does not have any incentive to pursue alternatives to their current model. Yes, a lot of people on Brickell Avenue may be complaining, but in reality that has not bearing on what FDOT does or does not do and there is no one to hold them accountable for not doing what citizens want. The statements taken at the public meeting are recorded and filed as FDOT is required to do, but is FDOT required to act on those statements? If FDOT were a corporation, customers and stockholders would ensure that FDOT changed its model and became innovative. As it is, government agencies and politicians don’t like to put extra pressure on themselves to either work harder/better or ultimately be responsible.

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  5. Tom says:

    Miami is the first metropolitan area in Florida to attain the density where autocentric transportation begins to fail. Most of the rest of Florida still adheres to rural and suburban models where the car reigns as the first logical choice.

    Thus, we are the pioneers for implementation of urbanism on a block by block, project by project basis. That’s why the suggestion in Ned’s last paragraph is so attractive. Our interests no longer align with the interests of the rest of the State and therefore we need something other than the sleepy old Florida Department of Transportation.

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  6. Eli says:

    M, you raise an excellent point. Because Brickell is a state road, FDOT has complete autonomy to do whatever it wants. They answer to their superiors in Tallahassee, not the residents that are directly affected by their work. We don’t elect FDOT, we can’t vote them in or out, and we can’t approve or reject their plans. As such, they’re not accountable to the local residents — they’re accountable to Floridians on the whole.

    There is no doubt that, if this was a city or county road, Brickell would look much different than what FDOT has envisioned. I noticed that Commissioner Sarnoff had a representative at the meeting last night to support the residents’ concerns. His support has been echoed by Mayor Regalado, as well as Representative Luis Garcia.

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  7. Eddy Stevens-Torrealba says:

    FDOT should rename itself the Florida Department of Resurfacing and Drainage. Those are the only two things their projects seem to be about… Well, and expressways.

    Definitely too narrow of a scope to be a full DOT.

    Transportation includes walking, bicycling and mass transit… A simple concept many of us in this community understand, but which escapes FDOT’s grasp.

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