Currently viewing the tag: "Miami Dade county public works department"

This was the scene this afternoon on the corner of NE 56th Street and NE 2nd Avenue. The sidewalks on both sides of the streets were closed to pedestrians today. The CPWD has got to be effing kidding me right?  There is absolutely no consideration given to pedestrians here. Zero. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Nil. A complete embarrassment. The pictures speak for themselves.

Criminal

Unacceptable

This type of shoddy planning during CPWD projects seems to be par for the course. Transit Miami sources have informed us that the same half-assed effort is currently on display at the ongoing Coconut Grove/27th Avenue resurfacing project.

The pervasive anti-pedestrian/anti-cyclist culture at the CPWD needs to end. The time has come to  “Think Pedestrians and Bicycles”, not only cars.

Disgraceful.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the lack of initiative the CPWD showed during a recent resurfacing project on South Miami Avenue from SW 14th Street to SE 13th Street. After the CPWD finished resurfacing the intersection on SW14th Street they only replaced the one and only existing crosswalk instead of painting all 4 crosswalks at this intersection.  County Public Works Department Director Esther Calas responded to Transit Miami:

The Miami-Dade Public Works Department (PWD) had an ongoing drainage, milling and resurfacing and striping and signage project on South Miami Avenue, which was interrupted at the request of the neighborhood merchants with the City’s concurrence due to the Florida Department of Transportation reconstructing Brickell Avenue North of SE 15 Road. Although both projects had non-overlapping maintenance of traffic vehicular routing, the merchants were concerned with the combined traffic impacts.

When we halted our drainage project, only one block was completed, between S 13 Street/Coral Way and S 14 Street. The project began on that block because it had the worst roadway drainage conditions. As a part of work stoppage, the contractor only replaced the single crosswalk at 14 Street that was originally present. The City has offered to continue the drainage work on Miami Avenue in coordination with their drainage project for the intersecting neighborhood streets.

We agree that additional crosswalks will improve Miami Avenue. Therefore, in the interim before drainage work is reinitiated on Miami Avenue, we will resume our effort to stripe crosswalks, stopbars, bicycle lanes and shared use “Sharrow” markings along this corridor between S 15 Road and S 6 Street without further delay.

We appreciate your bringing these concerns to our attention.

We are happy to report that the CPWD not only painted three additional crosswalks at the South Miami Avenue and SW14 Street intersection, but also in the process added bike lanes on South Miami Avenue from SW 13th Street up to SW 15th Street.  The CPWD has also taken the extra step to add crosswalks at other intersections on South Miami Avenue. Needless to say we are extremely pleased, but there is still room for improvement. Please see the below photographs for our praise, critiques and suggestions for improvement.

Sweet!

Awesome!

Kick Ass!

Nice bike lane!

 

The SW 12th Street/SE1st Avenue/ South Miami Avenue intersection a complete clusterfuck (Pardon my French). Serious attention needs to be given here.

New zebra crosswak on SW 12th Street South Miami Avenue. I love zebra crosswalks. Every crosswalk in the urban core should be a zebra crosswalk.

The SW 12th Street/SE1st Avenue/ South Miami Avenue intersection gets a new zebra crosswalk. Did I mention how much I love zebra crosswalks?

The boys at the CPWD hard at work. Thank you gentlemen!

SE 11th Street and S. Miami Avenue. Not sure if CPWD is finished here, but this intersection must have four crosswalks. Let's give the CPWD the benefit of the doubt.

SE 11th Street and S. Miami Avenue. The new stop bar must extend the entire width of SE 11th Street. A second stop sign must also go up. The manager at Rosinella told me today that he has been managing this restaurant since 1998 and sees on average 5 accidents per year at this intersection. More must bee done to calm traffic on South Miami Avenue. Too many idiots speed down S. Miami Avenue on this stretch. Enforcement isn't the solution. We must design a complete street that discourages speeding.

 

SE 10th Avenue and S. Miami Ave. Looks like the CPWD is putting zebra crosswalks here too. I think the rain stopped them from finishing the job.

 

Mary Brickell Village. Is a raised mid-block zebra crosswalk to much to ask for? Probably. We can only dream.

SW 9th and S. Miami Ave. Hopefully the CPWD will put zebra crosswalks here as well. Please give them the benefit of the doubt, I don't think they're done yet!

Well done Ms. Calas and CPWD!  Your department singly handedly just made the Brickell area safer for those of us that walk and bike in the area.  Let’s make it even safer!

You can find the Bicycle/Pedestrian Mobility Plan For the Miami Downtown Development Authority Area here: http://bit.ly/rsVYEb. There are plenty of great ideas in this document. The Miami DDA has also developed a streetscape plan for South Miami Avenue. You can find the study here:http://www.miamidda.com/pdf/South%20Miami%20Avenue%20Master%20Plan%20FINAL%209-17-10.pdf

Please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email thanking her and her department for their effort thus far. (ecalas@miamidade.gov). 

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure to meet several members of the Dutch delegation that came to Miami for a two-day ThinkBike workshop. The purpose of the ThinkBike workshop was to learn from the expertise of Dutch planners.  They came to teach us how we could improve downtown Miami’s bikeability. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the actual workshop, but I was able to make it to the post-seminar cocktail hour. Over a couple of Cold Stellas I spoke with several members from the Dutch delegation, a gentleman from the County Public Works Department, as well as citizens all of whom participated in the seminar.  The feedback I recieved was extremely positive.

Those that participated in the seminar were invited to ride a bicycle through the streets of Miami on Monday afternoon, although not everyone chose to ride.  Those that opted not to get on a bicycle included several FDOT officials; I sincerely wished they had taken the opportunity to ride the streets of Miami. Nonetheless I consider it a huge success that four FDOT District 6 officials attended this seminar.  This is a big step in the right direction and a huge success in and of itself.

On Tuesday attendees were divided into groups. Each of the groups was invited to design a bicycle lane on a designated street within the city with the help of Dutch planners.

The Orange Team came up with a bike lane design that will actually be implemented on North Miami Avenue.  Although the plans haven’t been finalized, North Miami Avenue-from NW 14th Street to NW 36th Street-will likely see bike lanes as wide as 6 feet in some sections, with a 2-3 foot soft buffer and perhaps travel lanes as narrow as 10 feet. The County Public Works Department quickly came up with money and support for this project after the plans were presented.

Source: Streetsblog

The Blue Team was assigned the task to design a bicycle lane for 14th Street, from North Miami Avenue to the Health District. One of the ideas the Dutch presented for a section of this project was to separate the cycle track from the cars using parallel parking. This is a successful technique already used in New York City, San Francisco and Portland.

Montreal's cycle tracks attract 2.5 times as many cyclists as comparable streets with no bike lane, and have lower injury rates, a new study shows. Image: Bicycle Canberra

It should be noted that some attendees were at first skeptical that bike lanes could be implemented as initially proposed by the Dutch.  By the end of the seminar even some of the skeptics had a change of heart. The FDOT has already been in touch with Dutch delegation and they have thanked them for the seminar. Apparently, it was very informative for the FDOT.  Hopefully the Dutch were able to change the FDOT mindset a bit, to “Think Bike” rather than only cars.

Thanks to the initiative of the Dutch Consulate we have been bestowed with a kick-ass bike lane in the heart of the city. This is a major North-South bike connection; this is awesome, but a bit concerning at the same time.  Why does it take a Dutch delegation to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to get a bike lane installed in Miami?  Not to sound bitter, but we here at Transit Miami, as well as the South Florida Bike Coalition, Green Mobility Network, Miami Bike Scene, MiMo Biscayne Association, and MiMo Business Improvement District have all been advocating for more and safer bike lanes for quite some time. Transit Miami’s recommendations are very similar to what the Dutch have proposed. Unfortunately, progress has been very slow.  We are ecstatic to finally get a world-class bike lane.  Unfortunately, we shouldn’t have play international politics to resolve a very local and relatively simple issue. Perhaps the Dutch brought the spark that will light up Miami with properly designed bike lanes? I hope so, because it is desperately needed here in South Florida.

We are very grateful for what the Dutch have done for the cycling world; including everything they accomplished in Miami during their short stay here. It sounds like the City of Miami and the County Public Work Department are willing to consider innovative bicycle infrastructure in future projects.  Let’s just hope their can-do attitude doesn’t fizzle in a couple of weeks. Let’s also hope that the FDOT begins to consider some of the ideas the Dutch have presented. The world is changing in front of our eyes. Gas prices are rising and people are driving less. We can’t continue to design roads to move cars faster; bicycles need to be part of the transportation mix.

The Dutch have set the bar for cycling infrastructure.  We should aspire to make cycling as safe as they have.  We have plenty to learn from their 40+ years of experience in designing bicycle infrastructure. As the Dutch say “Think Bike”. Hopefully the County Public Works Department, the City of Miami, and the FDOT will pursue innovative projects like the Dutch have already proved to be successful.

Dank u! Denk Fiets! Kom spoedig terug! (Thank you! Think Bike! Come back soon!)

It seems like every time a cyclist or pedestrian is killed or seriously injured on the mean and incomplete streets of Miami the knee-jerk reaction by our politicians is more enforcement. This happened on the Rickenbacker Causeway after Christoph LeCanne was killed a year ago.  Miami Dade Police enforcement increased significantly after cyclists pressured County Commissioner Gimenez to do more. Enforcement lasted about two months.

This same old sold song and dance also took place on Brickell Avenue a few months ago. After residents and business rallied for a more pedestrian-friendly Brickell Avenue, Commissioner Sarnoff was quick to ask for additional enforcement on Brickell Avenue in order to address speeding on this poorly designed road.  The crackdown by the Miami Police Department lasted about a month. The FDOT paid lip service by reducing the speed limit by a paltry 5 mph; still excessive for a road that cuts through the heart of Florida’s most densely populated neighborhood. The combined actions of the FDOT and Commissioner Sarnoff seemed to calm some of the outrage, but the FDOT did nothing to address to actual design speed of the roadway. Even with a 5 mph reduction of the speed limit drivers will continue to speed until the actual design speed of Brickell Avenue is addressed. Enforcement is basically fruitless.

Sounds like our elected officials have a winning formula to address voter indignation when someone is killed or critically injured on South Florida streets-temporary enforcement. What a joke. This is slap in the face to everyone that accepts this expensive and infective remedy that politicians ram down our throats as the silver bullet that will change driver behavior.  Enforcement is a temporary solution that doesn’t have a lasting effect.  In order to change behavior we must change the design of our streets. In the short term redesigning our streets may be more expensive (they should have been designed properly in the first place), but in the long term we can prevent deaths and injuries with better designed roads. The impact will be felt immediately; less deaths, injuries and need for enforcement.

Enforcement is Unsustainable. Why must we pay police to enforce traffic laws when they have more productive things to do? This burden falls upon the taxpayers; we have to pay police overtime or hire more police to enforce crappy roadway design. This is preposterous.  When we hire more police to enforce our traffic laws it becomes exponentially more expensive for our municipalities. We are forced to pay the long term costs associated with additional police pensions and healthcare, as well as equipment to enforce the traffic laws (uniforms, speed guns, weapons, patrol cars, motorcycles, gas, etc.). The list goes on.  On the other hand, good design doesn’t require enforcement; a well-designed street polices itself.

Enforcement is Ineffective. Enforcement may temporarily change driver behavior, but motorists know where to expect enforcement and will regress to their bad driving behavior as long as poor roadway design encourages terrible driving manners. As long as we have roads that encourage speeding the “war” against bad driver behavior through the use of enforcement is futile. Theoretically enforcement could work if we had police at every intersection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We all know that ain’t happening and it shouldn’t.

Our elected officials have to realize that we cannot police and enforce ourselves out of a poorly designed street. Our streets will only become safer if they are designed to accommodate all users (pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists). Commissioner Sarnoff, County Commissioner Gimenez, and Mayor Regalado are not doing enough to ensure our safety.  It’s about time they deal with the fundamental problem; incomplete and autocentric streets.  They need to force the County Public Works Department and the FDOT to design complete streets. Enforcement is deceitful at best. It gives the public the impression that our elected officials are acting in our behalf and interest. If they were sincere, our politicians would be lobbying for fundamental changes in the way we design our streets.

Our elected officials must be honest with the voting public. I do think some enforcement is better than no enforcement, particularly on the poorly designed streets in the urban core. But in order for it to be effective there needs to be a consistent (unsustainable) police presence. There must be a serious commitment of police resources until we get the FDOT to design a proper street. It can’t only be a two month crackdown.  Currently we have no enforcement at all around Brickell and the area has become virtually lawless for motorists.  This will certainly change once someone else dies or is critically injured.  It’s just a matter of time.  Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle with no end in sight. I challenge our elected officials to step-up to the plate. Will they accept this challenge? If we can put a man on the moon, we can design complete streets in our own backyard.

You can find our suggestions for improvements below.  We will not be satisfied until these recommendations are implemented. Anything less, will be considered a failure.

Brickell Avenue

Rickenbacker Causeway

Observe what happens when streets are poorly designed and there isn’t enforcement.  Watch as the two ladies almost get hit by the red Cadillac around 20 seconds. This situation could be entirely avoided if we designed our streets with pedestrians in mind.  Due to poor design we put pedestrians into a harms way, and then we create the false expectation that bad driver behavior can be addressed with enforcement. Through bad design we’ve essentially created a need for enforcement.  We should not  design our streets to be enforced.  Good design discourages bad behavior and eliminates the need for enforcement almost entirely.

All of the pedestrian crosswalk signals at the Brickell Avenue and SE 13th Street intersection are broken. It’s been a month. I’m not sure whom I need to speak to.

I first noticed that the crosswalks signals were out of order about a month ago. I decided to conduct an experiment to see how long it would take the County Public Works Department to fix the signals.

After witnessing a couple of scary close calls, I decide to end my experiment and dialed 311 to report the malfunction. It was just a matter of time before a car would hit a pedestrian. I was issued case # 1155595.  About two weeks have passed since I called 311 and the crosswalk signals still remain broken.

Pedestrian Frogger on Brickell Avenue February 24, 2011

This intersection happens to be the FDOT’s staging area for their autocentric resurfacing project that is currently underway.  During the course of the past two months the FDOT employees and contractors have swamped the Brickell area. In addition, the County Public Works Department has been noticeably present as well.

I’m not sure who deserves the blame, but I’m left questioning…

  • Was there a breakdown in communication between 311 and the County Public Works Department?
  • Has no one from the FDOT or the County Public Works Department noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are not functioning?
  • Do my fellow citizens not know to call 311? If this is the case, the County is doing a poor job educating the public about 311.
  • Or do my fellow citizens call 311 and get no results like I did?

This is a MAJOR intersection with a tremendous amount of pedestrian traffic. There is absolutely no reason why these crosswalk signals should remain broken for 4 weeks, jeopardizing the lives of thousands of people every day. Yet all of us are relegated to playing pedestrian frogger with our own lives in an attempt to get across the street. We shouldn’t have to guess when it’s safe to cross this pedestrian-unfriendly intersection. This is not a video game; it’s an embarrassment. It’s really just a matter of time before someone gets hit here.

Pedestrian Frogger on Brickell Avenue March 10, 2011

It’s no wonder County Mayor Carlos Alverez’s job is on the line. If we can’t even get basic services like pedestrian crosswalk signals fixed in a timely manner, I can only imagine what else is broken in County government.

The Miami-Dade County Public Works Department informed a group of Belle Meade residents that closing off public access to Belle Meade would not be allowed at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night. In a letter addressed to Miami Commissioner Sarnoff,  County PWD Director Esther Calas had this to say:

The Manual of Uniform Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways (Florida Greenbook), developed by the FDOT provides minimum standards for the design and maintenance of County and municipal roadway systems, including pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks.  Chapter 8 of the Greenbook provides that “ All new highways, except limited access highways, should be designed and constructed under the assumption they will be used by pedestrians.”

Chapter 15 of the Greenbook provides that if traffic diverters are being installed to redirect vehicular traffic, such as a street closure, as has been in the Belle Meade neighborhood, “Bicyclists and pedestrians should be provided access through traffic diverters.

The Greenbook provisions are consistent with the Miami-Dade County Comprehensive Master Plan (CDMP), which provides that pedestrian and vehicular networks should serve as connectors between neighborhoods, while the walling off of a neighborhood from arterial roadways should be avoided.  It further states that pedestrian circulation shall be provided between public places through connectivity of sidewalks and supplements by pedestrian paths.”

Furthermore, the Pedestrian Safety Guide and Contermeasure Selection System, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, states that if a street closure is implemented, it should always allow for the free movement of all pedestrians including wheelchair users and bicyclists. Moreover, emergency vehicles should be able to access barricaded streets.  Additionally, street closures must be implemented so as “not to adversely affect access to destination in the community by pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Therefore, based on the attached local, state, and federal provisions and as stated by our Assistant County Attorney’s email, the modification of the existing barricaded streets to include blocking pedestrian access along the sidewalks in the Belle Meade neighborhood cannot be allowed. However, as an option pedestrian free movement may be provided through the installation of concrete pipe bollards.”

Belle Meade residents where quick to point out that the communities of Miami Shores and Coral Gate had completely closed off road access to pedestrians and bicyclists. Mr. Gaspar Miranda, Assistant Director of the Miami-Dade County Public Works, told the audience that both communities had been advised that the street closures had to be removed, setting the stage for a showdown between local NIMBY’s who fought for the walled neighborhoods and County officials.  The Coral Gate wall in particular was only recently completed and was strongly supported by Mayor Tomas Regalado. How can City of Miami officials, from the Mayor to the public works department be so oblivious to County, State and Federal regulations?

In October Commissioner Sarnoff told Belle Meade residents that he would support the fencing of Belle Meade and he even offered to pay for it with public funds.  He instructed the Belle Meade HOA to gather a petition of support. In response, the Belle Meade HOA went door-to-door to get signatures and a surprising 78% of Belle Meade residents supported the fencing of Belle Meade.

Interestingly, the only residents that were asked to vote were neighbors to the east of NE 6th Avenue. Residents and businesses that to the west of NE 6th Avenue were never asked if they supported the fencing of Belle Meade. I’m guessing that if a petition were circulated to them, most would not support severing public access to Belle Meade.  While the County’s statements may make the closings a mute point, in order to make the process truly democratic all neighborhood stakeholders, including those to the west of NE 6th Avenue, should be allowed to voice their opinion.

It appears that the fencing of Belle Meade may not move forward, or at the very least there is a long road ahead for everyone involved. Our readers know that we here at Transit Miami do not support gated communities; they do more harm then good. Fences divide communities and remove “eyes from the street”, perhaps the greatest deterrent against crime. The less people walk the more dangerous an area becomes. Truly vibrant neighborhoods are those that are walkable and allow residents to interact with ALL their neighbors and local businesses by foot and bicycle. Everyone, including the elderly, the handicap and the carless, depend on easy access to businesses on Biscayne Boulevard.

As the neighborhood continues to improve and more businesses come to the Upper East Side the area will naturally become safer. As a resident of Miami for many years, I have witnessed incremental and steady improvements to the Upper East Side - which is one of the reasons I moved here. Yes, more needs to be done, but severing Belle Meade from its surroundings is not the answer.

An alternative strategy for residents and businesses to help advance redevelopment would be to engage local groups like the MiMo BID and the MiMo Biscayne Association. The MiMo Business Improvement Committee is a voice for the business community and with a broad base of support could become a strong advocate for the neighborhood. Similarly,  The MiMo Biscayne Association has been promoting the area successfully for some time - they understand the value of historic preservation and are another organization which businesses and residents should support.

You might be saying, “Thats great for the long term -but how do we improve safety now??” Here are a couple of easily implementable suggestions for making my beloved neighborhood a little safer.

1. Maintain the landscaping that exist along NE 6th Court - policing by Belle Meade residents and police officers would be more effective with clearer sight lines

2.Take action on the abandoned Vagabond Hotel (tearing it down is not an option)

3. Maintain a strong Citizens Crime Watch program

4. Increase the presence of City of Miami Police

Bollards, as suggested by the CPWD, would not allow cars to access the neighborhood.

The abandoned Vagabond Hotel is cesspool #1 on the Upper East Side for crime, drugs, homelessness and probably prostitution.

Check out the new Citizens' Crime Watch sign. Belle Meade neighbors mobilized after a daylight armed home invasion in October.

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