Showing posts with label Miami-Dade County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miami-Dade County. Show all posts

3/16/07

News and Updates

Well, it's been a busy last couple of days with planning news...
  • Three bills proposing to give the Marlins a $60 million dollar subsidy to bridge the funding gap for the new stadium easily made it through the state Senate and House committees on Thursday. While the baseball fans in Miami-Dade and Marlin stakeholders should be excited by early popularity of the proposed bills with the state House and Senate, it appears Broward legislators have a bad case of sour grapes over the stadium location. Broward senators are leading the charge against the stadium funding because they're upset the proposed stadium sites are not located in the suburbs near county line. Speaking of the stadium site, there still has been no settlement; however, it appears the Orange Bowl plan is unfortunately still gaining steam.
  • FDOT is planning on making major "improvements" to I-95 between Ft. Lauderdale and downtown Miami. The proposal calls for the replacing the current HOV lanes with two HOT lanes (High Occupancy Toll) in each direction. Newly installed computer sensors on the highway would measure traffic volume and average speed, which would allow the system to increase or decrease the toll fees in the HOT lanes based on how much congestion there is. Drivers wishing to use HOT lanes would use a prepaid toll card like the SunPass. I've never been much of a fan of these "Lexus Lanes", but I'll let Gabe elaborate on the issue as he is the resident transportation engineer of the group.
  • Miami-Dade Transit director Roosevelt Bradley was forced to resign last night. Apparently, Bradley is one of the first casualties of Mayor Alvarez's new powers to hire and fire administrators at County Hall. According to the Herald, Bradley, who took over Miami-Dade Transit in 2002, was inefficient as a boss and oversaw massive deficits under his rule. We'll keep posting any updates as soon as we hear who might be the next director.

3/15/07

Ferry Close to Becoming Reality


Transit has recommended a three year, five-day-per-week pilot program for the ferry, with service from It appears ferry service may soon be a reality in Miami - at least temporarily. Miami-DadeMatheson Hammock Park in the south and Haulover Park in the north to downtown Miami. According to Jose Luis Mesa, head of the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), service could be expanded to include additional stops north of Haulover Park, such as at Aventura, if the ferry proves to be a success.

There are still several hurdles to overcome, however. First, such a service would be a form of park n' ride, which would require a considerable amount of parking spaces in environmentally sensitive, bay front areas. The last thing these two beautiful bay front parks need are massive parking allotments within them. The second major hurdle involves protection of manatees. Speed limits of just seven miles per hour are in place in several sections of Biscayne Bay to protect the "sea cows", which are endangered species. Service would be far too slow to be feasible if the ferries had to follow these speed limits. As a result, the MPO is looking into the possibility of using catamarans with sonar or hovercrafts that float over the water to transport passengers efficiently without compromising the safety of the manatees.

Also, one-way trip times appear to be a little lengthy along the northern route. While the MPO estimates the trip form Matheson Hammock will take just 28 minutes, the trip from Haulover is expected to take an hour. I would think this needs to be cut to about 45 minutes for it to maximize ridership. Access to Haulover may prove difficult as well, given that it can only be accessed by A1A and is relatively isolated from residences on Bal Harbour to the south and Sunny Isles to the north.


Upon reaching downtown, the ferries would dock at Chopin Plaza (above and top pic) at the south end of Bayfront Park, which is just one block from metromover at Biscayne Blvd. & SE 2nd St. Service would run approximately every 20 minutes during rush hour and every hour thereafter between 6:00am and 8:00pm weekdays. If the county commission's transportation committee approves the pilot, it could be running by 2009.


Photos from flickr: pixelflex, ldysteph

3/14/07

15 Seconds of Transit Fame

Go Miami-Dade, the People's Transportation Plan newsletter, is offering the opportunity for transit riders to be profiled in the next issue of the newsletter. This month's newsletter states:
"How would you like to be profiled in the next issue of Go Miami-Dade? If you're a regular transit rider, we'd like to share your story about why you take the bus or train. Passenger profiles will feature a photo and brief interview. To find out how to be the subject of a passenger profile, please contact us at Gomiamidade@miamidade.gov or 305-375-1278".

2/21/07

The State of Our Transit Stations


While Mayor Alvarez is talking about elevated HOT lanes on I-95 and the PTP adding bus routes in the State of the County address, I was thinking in another direction: it's time to make our Metrorail stations more accessible and pedestrian-oriented. This is of primary concern for stations along US-1, which serves as a barrier to anyone trying to use Metrorail from the south side of Dixie Highway.

Take, for example, the Coconut Grove station. It should serve as one of the most important transit gateways in Miami-Dade County, but instead functions as an isolated entity. Countless times I have interacted with tourists at both ends of 27th avenue in the Grove, asking me where the Metrorail station is probably because a) it is effectively cut off from the neighborhood and b) there is little urban continuity between the station and Grand Avenue that is emblematic of a place where people walk and take transit. Check out the pictures below:


Besides having to wait at least two minutes for the light to change, the man crossing the street (in front of white truck turning left in this pic) had to dodge a car turning right-on-red from southbound 27th avenue, then step in front of this line of left turn traffic, and this is just to get to the median. Once he gets across the street, he is flanked by a very large gas station and chaotic stretch of merge-lane, followed by this.

The point is, better integration between Metrorail stations and adjacent streets and intersections is critical to the success of Metrorail, as well as realizing the pedestrian-oriented urban goals for Greater Miami. I guarantee there are people who would otherwise ride Metrorail but are turned off by either the prospect of crossing US-1 or the auto-centric environment of streets leading to the stations.

2/18/07

MDT Honors Rosa Parks

Miami-Dade Transit Honors Rosa Parks for Black History Month:

"A permanent memorial to Rosa Parks will be on display above a designated seat behind the bus driver’s position, to honor Park’s refusal to give up her seat to another person. The decal reads, "Seat dedicated in honor of Rosa Parks" and is written in three languages."

2/9/07

Studies Favor Density Along US-1

Count them. Not one, or two, but three independent studies call for increased density along the US-1 rapid transit corridor.

Recent Miami 21 studies, Miami-Dade Watershed Studies, and Coconut Grove planning studies all encourage increased density along US1 and near Metrorail stations.

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing better than some cold hard facts to combat the closed minded NIMBY thought process:

“Rush hour is already a nightmare; this will make things even worse,” said Kenneth Newman at a recent meeting between the developer and Grove Residents. “A lot of people are saying that it’s not going to work because rich people don’t ride the Metrorail…they have nice cars and they want to drive them,” says one Grove activist [Mr. Nimby] who wishes to remain nameless.

Wrong!

However, studies conducted by the transit department reveal a pattern that seems to have less to do with income level and more to do with urban design.

We needed a study to reach that conclusion after 20 years!? You could have looked at just about any other city in the world to see that we were doing things backwards.

Dadeland South and Dadeland North, the two southernmost Metrorail stations recorded the seconded highest weekly ridership averages of more than 6,500 boardings each. These two stations are not located in high poverty areas.

I wonder, perhaps, by how much the daily use of metrorail is going to increase once the units at Downtown Dadeland, Toscano, Colonnade, and Metropolis come fully onto the market. Let’s not forget about the upcoming Town Center project (lame name, I know) and final Datran building which are slated to include up to six additional office high-rises in and around the Dadeland area.

As Ryan showed below, the city is planning on investing millions of dollars to transform the area along 27th avenue from the metrorail station to the CBD of the grove. The plan includes better urban planning than what we’ve seen in most Miami neighborhoods and is a great way to integrate metrorail with the coconut grove district. Grove Residents are always citing parking/traffic concerns, but, if only they would get out of their cars then perhaps they’d begin to understand what a better place the grove could be…

All is silent over at CGG...

2/8/07

Extreme Makeover: 27th Avenue

Fortunately for Grove residents as well as other Miamians, 27th Avenue between US-1 and Bayshore Drive will soon be getting a long overdue makeover. This important stretch of avenue that links the neighborhood center with Coconut Grove Station has long been in shameful condition for pedestrians.

The plan to beautify 27th Avenue is to include expanded sidewalks, tree landscaping, and a mini traffic circle at the intersection of Tigertail, Day, and 27th. Predictably, some Grove NIMBYs are voicing concerns about parking. Apparently, they’re worried that the project right-of-way on both sides of the avenue will eliminate hideous lagoon parking in front of buildings in favor of widening sidewalks. God forbid anyone takes away “reserved” parking spots to add/widen sidewalks.

Below are some pictures showing what it looks like to take a walk from the southern part of the avenue to US-1:

The first leg of the walk does not even have a sidewalk, just a series of ugly, windswept sand and gravel parking lagoons for several apartment buildings.

The sidewalk first appears awkwardly (I’m not sure that word does justice here) about 20-25 yards from the street behind another parking lagoon. If this doesn’t symbolize walking as an afterthought in this community I don’t know what does.
More discontinuity that ruins the street. The sidewalk reappears in the middle of this parking lagoon flanked by what else, cars.
Another awkward stretch of sidewalk flanked by a gas station and huge swath of asphalt, which serves one main function: allows cars an excessively wide turning radius from Bird Rd.
This enormous chunk of asphalt adjacent to EZ Kwik is such an eyesore it makes me sick to look at. The city recently put in a speed bump on the corner of Bird just keep cars from using this space to evade traffic at the light. Talk about putting a band-aid on a stab wound.
Just past EZ Kwik, the sidewalk suddenly disappears again, forcing pedestrians to walk across a sand and gravel wasteland.
After getting back on the sidewalk again, one comes to this mini office park that warns pedestrians to watch for cars. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
More discontinuity. After being steered into a jungle-like setting, the sidewalk is again fragmented by a parking strip - far from the street by the way.
After reappearing, the walk finally terminates at US-1. The trash isn’t always there, but a greater pedestrian presence would require sidewalk cleaning to be more consistent.

2/7/07

Streetcar Discussions, Part 2

My lengthy reply to Mr. Frank Rollason:

Frank,

It's great to finally get some discussion going on this critical issue with some of Miami's more prominent individuals such as yourself. I followed the election closely and was hoping that your campaign would have taken you a bit further.

The streetcar issue is a difficult situation to address. I've given this idea much thought and have tried to analyze its' impact from all different angles. In the end, I concede that I am a bit of a realist when it comes to this sort of development but I find it difficult to think otherwise especially when I've witnessed and studied similar projects rise flawlessly around the United States and the World.

Placing cost the cost of the streetcar aside for a second, I'd like to first discuss the impact that the streetcar would have on the city, its residents, and the future of both.

Development:

As I mentioned previously, the streetcar would serve as an economic engine for the city, steering development along its corridor. You informed me that residents are against further development, a fact which I have come to understand from their perspective, seeing that all upcoming development within their neighborhoods is likely being improperly constructed to suit the needs of urban living elements such as the streetcar (see: New Urbanism.) Their stance isn't unwarranted, seeing how terribly these buildings were designed and then approved by the hapless commission. Growth, however, is inevitable in every city. A stagnant growth stance by any municipality will in the long run lead to further economic strife for both the city and residents. I get the feeling that much of the anti-growth sentiment can be attributed to the lack of reasonable transportation options to offset the increase in traffic, general regulatory abuse by the city commission to approve every building, and overall disregard by the developers. Not building the streetcar, the area we'll continue to witness truly devastating projects (ie. 2222 Biscayne, Bayview Market) rise throughout the district. A streetcar combined with the appropriate rezoning would severely alter the type and context of the development which will inevitably continue in the area. By placing better constraints on development within a close boundary of the corridor, I feel that the area citizens will fully benefit from the streetcar, truly creating an environment (detailed in this herald article from 2002) where people can live without the burden of owning an automobile. (Note: the constraints that I speak of are used in various municipalities and include: minimal parking requirements for buildings within a stated distance of the transit corridor, required building/street interaction elements like covered porticos and ground level retail, on street municipal parking, pedestrian-only zones, etc.) I would not endorse the streetcar if such constraints were not enacted simultaneously in order to guarantee its success.

The streetcar is much more than simply another form of transportation; it's a critical piece of Miami 21 and a vital method of reconstructing our city in manner which caters to humans rather than vehicles.

Economically:

Going along with the constraints I mentioned above, the economic benefit that the streetcar would provide the city is well worth more than its initial costs. Placing constrictions on developments within the corridor such as requirements for affordable housing in the form of rental units would not be unreasonable. Using principles outlined in Miami 21, the city can rezone the corridor to include areas which would favor the construction of mid-density and lower priced rental units or condominiums. The affordable housing units would be cheaper to develop given the lower parking constraints and thus construction costs while eliminating the burden of relying on a vehicle for some of the city's neediest constituents.

The $200 Million price tag is certain to go up, a fact we can both easily agree upon. However, the state (according to recent reports) would front half the costs leaving the rest to be divided among the city and the county. The city has received $42 Million thus far from its' share of the PTP, money which must be used for city transit options. MDT could also be sought to fund part of the streetcar. Given that a significant sum of the initial cost of streetcars nationwide is attributed to finding a facility to house and maintain the vehicles, the city could look to partner with MDT to build a joint facility which could accommodate the Miami streetcars as well as the upcoming Baylink cars, saving both agencies large sums of money in the long term. All in all, I'm not saying or thinking that any of this will be easy to accomplish, considering the limited discussion which regularly occurs between the city and county, but, it is definitely a reasonable project which in reality would not require such a grave commitment on the part of the city.

Traffic Concerns:

Traffic will only continue to get worse within the city, plain and simple. With the new developments rising and the plethora of interest remaining in the neighborhood, developers are going to continue to exploit the neighborhood. We're going to continue to see buildings situated on massive parking pedestals and we will soon witness gridlock bring many streets to a grinding halt.

Running the streetcar in a lane of traffic would actually improve traffic flows along the corridors. Through improved signal timing and using technology pioneered in Toronto back in 1991 with signal priority timing, the corridor would feature advanced ITS which is endorsed by the USDOT. The Toronto study found that total corridor delay was reduced by 35% (better than with bus signal priority timing) and there were no significant impacts on side street queue delays.

The Bus "Alternative"

From the American Public Transportation Association:

The Transportation Research Board Special Report No. 1221, "Impact on Transit Patronage of Cessation or Inauguration of Rail Service" dated 1989, and authored by transportation researcher Edson L. Tennsyson concluded the following:

"Because transit use is a function of travel time, fare, frequency of service, population, and density, increased transit use can not be attributed to rail transit when these other factors are improved. When these service conditions are equal, it is evident that rail transit is likely to attract from 34 to 43 percent more riders than will equivalent bus service. The data do not provide explanations for this phenomenon, but other studies and reports suggest that the clearly identifiable rail route; delineated stops that are often protected; more stable, safer, and more comfortable vehicles; freedom from fumes and excessive noise; and more generous vehicle dimensions may all be factors."

Click on this link, Transportation Research Record 1221, for the full text of this research report.

Additional Facts:

  • Currently there are 26 existing streetcar/trolley lines operating in the United States and Canada with a whopping 61 other cities actively planning streetcar initiatives. There are over 200 municipalities vying for federal funding leaving funds scarce and competition fierce (Source APTA.)
  • Since 1995, public transit ridership has expanded 25 percent (to 9.7 billion trips in 2005). From 25 in 2000, the country's fixed-guideway (rail or bus) transit systems are likely to grow to 42 by 2030, adding 720 stations to today's total of 3,349.
  • Streetcars are experiencing a revival worldwide with new lines opening in Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Bilbao, just to name a few…
  • Streetcars were not dismantled due to a lack of ridership, many were dismantled by GM to push for the expansion of roads and highways…

Like I stated at the beginning, I may suffer from viewing things in an idealized fashion but the facts to support streetcars in Miami abound. I realize it will take a large amount of municipal responsibility and government oversight (something we have been known to skimp on in the past) to fully realize the maximum potential this project has to offer the city and constituents. The current arguments against the streetcar are weak, to place it as mildly as possible. Hurricane concerns can be overcome, development can (and should) be better controlled, and construction costs should not run amuck with city's treasury. The time has come for the city to take transportation initiatives into its own hands to better provide for the upcoming growth we will continue to experience. Thank you for your time, I hope we can continue to discuss this topic further. I have many more reasons why you should support the streetcar including environmental concerns, job opportunities, and tourism…

Let me know if I may share this discourse with the readers of TransitMiami.com...

Regards,
Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal

Streetcar Discussions

Sorry about the delay, I have been addressing the streetcar issue with several individuals via e-mail. With the permission of Frank Rollason, I will share my discussions with him over the issue here on the website. Here were his initial thoughts on the streetcar initiative, my thoughts will follow later today:

Gabriel,

I am contacting you just to give another perspective on the proposed streetcar project. I was an unsuccessful candidate for the commission office that Marc Sarnoff now occupies. We both opposed the streetcar project as part of our campaign platforms. My position has not changed. Previous to running for office, I was the Executive Director for two City CRAs through which a large portion of the system would run and from which the City was looking for funding. There is a huge anti-development mentality presently existing in the residential communities of Miami especially in the Upper Eastside. The proposed streetcar project would do exactly what you speak of - encourage additional development along the streetcar corridor. It’s not an issue of whether the streetcar is needed or not; it is an issue of future development and the community has said enough is enough. On top of this, one must recognize that more and more the CRAs’ funds are being siphoned off for projects deemed for the well-to-do and having no benefit for the affordable housing group. One cannot take this project out of context from the other projects for which CRA funds are being sought - increasing commitment to the new Performing Arts Center, a seaport tunnel, improvements to a park slated to house two museums, and a new baseball stadium. All of these cause huge community opposition for the use of CRA funds when affordable housing goes largely ignored. You speak in the pure scheme of planning for development and here, in the City of Miami, the development has already run amuck with little or no planning and no concern for traffic and infrastructure needs. Now, to suggest a streetcar project that mostly serves underdeveloped areas instead of already existing hi-rise residential units is looked at as another example of poor planning and will cause only what you suggest - more hi-rises along the streetcar corridor.

Nothing is as simple as you lay it out because there are always other issues which are impacted, Frank.

2/6/07

Tri-rail scored a touchdown this past weekend, attracting record setting numbers of passengers for weekend ridership. How so you ask? Likely because Chicagoans have effective public transportation back home and they probably figured we did too...

2/2/07

Super Weekend Ahead

Shankrabbit is among the many people arriving and chronicling their weekend visit to Miami for the Super Bowl, they were lucky enough to arrive on a chartered United 777 and are traveling to their hotel via motorcade. I'll be down in the mayhem soon and I'll try to bring you the responses of some of our visitors...

1/31/07

Miami Transportation Planning; Part 1


The Miami Streetcar should only be the beginning of a visionary transportation master plan to transform the City of Miami. Part 1 of this multiple part series aims to explain the map pictured above. Later, I will go in depth to explain the specifics behind route choice, design, and the benefits each will bring to the city and all residents.

Pictured above (Click to enlarge) is a rough aerial sketch of possible streetcar routes that I envisioned in a city transportation plan. Using the basis of the current streetcar plan, I extended rail networks south, west, and east in the corridors where such transportation efforts would fit well with future, proper urban growth patterns.

The red streetcar line follows the basic path already presented. The train would head east on 1st or Flagler St, heading towards Biscayne Boulevard, where the route would turn north. At NE 11th St, Baylink would merge onto the Macarthur Causeway and head towards the beach while the Design District Route would continue North on the boulevard until NE 14th St. I chose 14th street to not overlap with the metromover on 15th and to bring riders as close as possible to the Carnival Center. The streetcar would head west to N Miami Avenue, intersecting with the FEC tracks (highlighted in Black) where a transfer would occur to the LRT which would travel from Miami through Jupiter, easily accessing every major city in between. This transfer station will also grant FEC riders with a station to easily transfer to the Health district Streetcar which would travel west from this point along NW 20th St. The Design District Streetcar route would turn left at NE 29th Street before entering Midtown Miami (Note: this is Midtown Miami, our newest neighborhood, not a development, there is no need to spite our newest urban dwellers to make a point to a developer.)

The other routes could receive funding at a later point in time, once the overwhelming success of the Miami Streetcar is evident. The Blue route would exit the Brickell station heading west on SW 10th street to SW 3rd Avenue where it would turn South. SW 3rd avenue merges with Coral Way, which will guide the streetcar to the Coral Gables CBD. At 37th Avenue, the Coral Way Streetcar could head into the Gables via Merrick Way or Miracle Mile, and later head either north or south along Ponce, further into the CBD.

The Yellow or Flagler route would also terminate at Government Center, solidly defining the central core transfer station for the city. Routes would head west along Flagler to Beacom Blvd. At Beacom the Flagler route would head southwest to Eighth Street where it would continue west. The return route for this route would travel along SW 1st St.

1/29/07

Riding the Rails of Reason

I’m excited to see such debate occurring on the previous land usage post. As evidenced by the discussions you all brought up, the area and statistics of the greater Miami region are very debatable, a problem we’ve compounded by the fractioning of municipalities in the region. What is important is to analyze the density of the regions highlighted in the map. A city may have a large population, but have hundreds or thousands of miles or urbanized sprawl. What is important though however is that we address our density, building up properly on our urbanized land to create sufficient density for public transit options to actually work. This brings us to the next point in this discussion: The Miami Streetcar.

Amidst an unprecedented building boom and surge in urban dwellings and living, the Miami streetcar could possibly serve as the catalyst to properly link some of the densest regions of the city, making the urban lifestyle a reality for a greater portion of our population. The time to incorporate such a significant piece of the urban lifestyle puzzle would be now; before the condos are completed, before the urban dwellers move in, and to serve as a guide for further dense development. Unfortunately, some city commissioners are blinded, rather flat out ignoring, the true benefits of the streetcar along Miami’s most promising neighborhoods:

Sarnoff said the Streetcar was too expensive and would be used to fuel more overdevelopment in areas already overwhelmed by high-rise residential condos. He argued that a fleet of environmentally friendly circulator buses would better serve the city at a much cheaper price.

Is this guy joking? Areas overwhelmed? I’m sorry we might disrupt the calm village like quality that every CBD is supposed to embody. This is what happens when we continue to allow ignorance to exist in our local government. It’s not about providing a benefit to local developers; it’s about creating an urban lifestyle that area residents are craving. The environmentally friendly bus idea is beyond ridiculous. Let’s spend $600,000 a pop on a hybrid “circulator” bus which will a) do nothing to enhance the urban fabric of the community or route b) realize far less ridership numbers than the streetcar could easily guarantee c) make urban life next to impossible for everyone not living within a few blocks of the metromover d) be a gigantic waste of money e) be the worst idea I’ve ever heard and f) continue the terrible parking garage pedestal and further increase area traffic because countless studies always conclude that there is a permanent negative stigma towards buses in the United States.

What irks me is the desire to kill a project even before the facts have been heard. This guy is a lawyer, not a transit planner, engineer, or urban planner. He’s behind ecologically friendly construction in the city but knows little of how to actually create a greener city (here is a hint: it involves making the city denser, easier to walk, and has abundant public transit.) He ran against bad government but is suddenly the epitome of the bad government decisions we are trying to fight. Now, don’t get me wrong this isn’t a tirade against Sarnoff, but rather against the thought process, given the real facts, on the Miami streetcar…

1/25/07

Miami: South of South Florida


Well, it’s official. Miami has seceded from South Florida. Yeah, that’s right, we’re no longer part of the lump which masses together unknown suburban municipalities into a family friendly destination. That is according to the Sun-Sentinel which recently happened to removed Miami-Dade County from its news channel listings. Apparently South Florida ends at the Dade-Broward line, anything south of that is uncharted waters or a separate friendly nomenclature; perhaps South South Florida, or North of Cuba will do the trick for the rest of us down here to have a geographical identity too. I never really cared much for the Sun-Sentinel’s coverage anyway. Aside from some facts, their articles have always had a pungent distaste for Miami on top their spotty and lack luster coverage. Take their upbeat take on the opening of the Carnival Center for example. I hope if anything, the Sun-Sentinel can continue to serve us one purpose: to continue giving us the bad news of what’s happening in the land South of South Florida…

1/24/07

When NIMBYs Plan, We all Lose



The County’s zoning and planning department must not have too much urban planning experience. The board blatantly does not understand the transit oriented development concept and instead chose to bow down to the heeds of the Coconut Grove NIMBY force. In case you aren’t aware, the CCG NIMBY Coalition is against density, height, and growth, but typically still wonders why the Coconut Grove Central shopping/business district is nearly vacant and not bustling with activity. (Note: they are also against expanding the UDB for further sprawl, but refuse to allow such development that would prevent it from happening in the first place.) In an effort to prevent further traffic, the NIMBY Coalition of the Grove sought to severely scale down the density of a proposed transit oriented development at the Grove metrorail station, opting instead for shorter buildings with more parking spaces. So let’s get this straight, in order to combat further traffic issues they are fighting to bring more parking to a new development that will be adjacent to a transit station? Sheer stupidity. The US-1 corridor is primed for denser development with fewer parking spaces to force use of alternative means of transportation throughout our neighborhoods including walking. Just in case you were wondering here is the definition of a transit oriented development:
Transit Oriented Development is the exciting new fast growing trend in creating vibrant, livable communities. Also known as Transit Oriented Design, or TOD, it is the creation of compact, walkable communities centered around high quality train systems. This makes it possible to live a higher quality life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival.

Hence my initial remarks on the zoning department’s actual planning experience. Below is a copy of the story from the Miami Today:

HEIGHT FIGHT: A developer's plan to build a 250-foot, 25-story residential and commercial tower on 5 acres next to the Coconut Grove MetroRail station at US 1 and Southwest 27th Avenue is being scaled down by the county's planning and zoning department. County officials were expected to detail their proposal to limit Coconut Grove Station Development's tower to 19 stories and 200 feet at the Rapid Transit Developmental Impact Committee Wednesday (11/24). The county also wants to reduce density and increase parking for the project, which has triggered seven years of debate.
At least this comment is right on the money. Too bad reason goes in one ear and out the other over there:

Anonymous said...

Fifteen story buildings are way too short for a parcel next to a transit stop. You're not using the land efficiently. The mixed-use towers sounds like a much better plan. Having the retail conveniences so close to the station will be excellent for ridership, not to mention curbing urban sprawl and building responsibly. Dense urban infill is the way to go.

January 23, 2007 9:38 PM

MDT Leadership

I came across an interesting comment posted on The Miami Herald in response to the strong mayor victory. Apparently we’re not the only ones dissatisfied with the leadership over at Miami-Dade Transit.

Hopefully, now the escalators along the Brickell Avenue route will be fixed after more than one year out of service for "upgrades". Got a nice reply about this matter from Mr. Bradleys office after a couple of months, but still, no solution to the problem.

  • Posted by: Silvie

Perhaps if they hadn’t wasted our money replacing perfectly good trash receptacles we would have escalators and elevators for patrons to use…

Straight to the Trash


Riding around on metrorail recently, I couldn't help but wonder which public coffer was plundered to pay for the replacement see-through trash cans along every station. Look, I’m not against keeping the city secure from reasonable threats, but, I don’t think any terrorist is looking to bomb one of the most underutilized transit systems in the nation- it’s just not happening. As Rebecca noted earlier, the old trash receptacles were even removed for quite some time before the new ones had arrived. It's quite humorous actually, while standing around waiting for the northbound train, I realized where our half-penny tax was headed; straight to the trash...

1/23/07

Great Success!!!

Transit in the Tropics: The CITT

Today, I would like to introduce to you a new weekly section titled Transit in the Tropics. I hope this weekly section can come to address some of the more basic transit needs within our county and shed light on some of the more pressing issues.

What better way to kick off this new section than addressing yesterday’s streetwise article by herald columnist Larry Lebowitz. The Citizens Independent Transportation Trust was designed to allow for public oversight of the half-penny referendum approved back in 2002. As Larry points out, the Trust is not serving in the best interests of the constituents because it is not independent of county administrators and isn’t, well, particularly trustworthy.

A citizen’s oversight board is essential whenever new taxes are to be imposed; it maintains the integrity of the process and ensures that our dollars are put to the uses we originally intended. The fact that a county administrator is chairman of the trust should rouse more than just suspicions and it definitely speaks volumes of the injustices occurring in our county commission. The dysfunctional state of the independent trust is a great place to begin when analyzing the little transit progress that has been made since its’ inception. Five years have passed since the creation of the half-penny sales tax and yet county-wide transit has yet to substantially gain from any of it. I don’t know, but shiny new bus benches on suburban streets weren’t what I had in mind when the tax was imposed. If corrected now with proper oversight, budget allocation, and basic foresight the half-penny sales tax can valiantly attempt to live up to the transit corridors which were included with original proposals. Otherwise, the CITT and half-penny tax will go down as further examples of why our county government cannot be trusted…

From the CITT Website:

Who can serve on the CITT?

CITT members must be registered voters of Miami-Dade County who possess an outstanding reputation for civic involvement, integrity, and experience or interest in the transportation, mobility improvements or land use planning. They are appointed by the County Mayor, the members of the Board of County Commissioners, and the Miami-Dade County League of Cities.

1/22/07

Cleaning up the Mess, One Vote at a Time

It’s rare that I get very political nowadays on the website, but, I think it is important that we take some time out today to speak of the implications that tomorrow’s election will have on all the residents of Miami-Dade county. I decided to write this after asking someone if they were planning to vote on Tuesday to which they replied, “How can I vote, it doesn’t concern my Mayor?” Come again? What county do we all live in, he is your mayor. The ridiculous confusion that has been caused by every neighborhood incorporating to escape the typical political tyranny in our county is absolutely absurd. Palmetto Bay, Doral, Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Aventura, Sunny Isles, El Portal, Medley, Florida City, etc, you get the point; they are all blips on the radar, ask most people from these municipalities where they live and I guarantee the majority declare Miami home. Nowhere else can you find such a clutter of municipalities all bunched upon each other direly seeking to create a name for themselves in the local and even global marketplace.

Unfortunately, we’re all to blame for this mess, not because we live in Kendall or Sweetwater or some other godforsaken suburb with a cutesy name that is desperately seeking to escape the abuse of local corrupt politicians, but, for electing most of them in the first place to positions that they were wholly unqualified or just too incompetent to hold. The strong mayor reform seeks to correct the injustices caused by the political scene in Miami basically since the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter was drafted in 1957. Ok, so you’re wondering how exactly this is going to solve the problem? The strong mayor referendum is a win-win for all the citizens in Miami-Dade County, both in the unincorporated areas and swath of independent municipalities because it allows all of us to have greater oversight over our county government. Think about it this way: the way it is now, hypothetically, if the commish over in district 11 is a bumbling idiot who is accepting loads of money from developers to approve a mega project in a your district, there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. You can send them a letter, yippee. At best you can hope that said commissioner will be recalled by the constituents in his/her own district, which as we all witnessed recently is highly unlikely. With the strong mayor, yes we place all the power in the hands of a single person, but we are all within the boundaries of his mayoral rule. Also, consider the salary differences between mayor and commissioners, we’re also likely to see some qualified and dedicated individuals running for office, given that it is a full time job unlike the county commission’s 12k annual salary which essentially requires all members to seek “consulting” jobs in fields where they quite often have zero to no experience. In the end, I’m all for removing the power from the unnecessary and proven to be inept county commission. We’ve all had enough with the current state of affairs, evidenced by the recent surge of individual municipalities, it’s time to vote for a change and hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

The next best step in fixing the mess we have created thus far would be to- dare I say it- abolish all the municipalities within the county, bringing us all under one umbrella of local government. Essentially revert to what the Miami-Dade County home rule charter was originally intended to accomplish. Now, I’m not suggesting that this needs to occur, but, if managed properly (yeah, fat chance) a solitary county government could operate more efficiently than the insane bureaucracy that exists today. Cities would gain independent councils, capable of pressing for the interests of the neighborhood only. Transit wise, the agency would be able to make better decisions for the benefit of the whole county preventing bureaucratic debacles from occurring such as when Miami Beach politicians derailed (pun intended) plans to bring streetcars to the area.