- Addition of bike lanes
- Addition of on-street parking
- Removal of most private, on-site parking
- Addition of tree-planted median (and more shade trees for sidewalks)
- Addition of oval-shaped traffic circle at the intersection of Day, Tigertail, and 27th
While earlier renderings more often centered around parking controversy, the newest lightning rod is the traffic circle. Several citizens and business owners still don’t believe the traffic circle will work.
”You have to remember people don’t like change, and this is something that’s foreign to them,” - Delfin Molins, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Public Works Department.
It’s true - many Groveites are terrified of change. However, I’d be surprised if most are not fully supporting this project by the time the final draft is unveiled. I really think this project is quite progressive for Miami/South Florida standards in the way it focuses more on improving the pedestrian realm than making the street a traffic sewer.
As for the concern about the traffic circle, I’m pretty confident it will be beneficial to Center Grove residents and visitors alike. As long as it’s engineered by the specs public works has planned, it should do a pretty good job mitigating congestion on 27th and Tigertail while not compromising easy pedestrian crossings. The shape and design of this “circle” should ensure that cars cannot speed through it. People shouldn’t worry about it becoming a wild “free-for-all”, because it is not designed to be a large rotary similar to the Cocoplum Circle at Le Jeune and Sunset in Coral Gables. Miami drives can be dumb…and crazy, but even they can handle a traffic circle this simple. Plus, Day Ave should not experience an appreciable increase in thru-traffic as long as it changes to one-way eastbound.
My biggest disappointment with this project, however, is that the intersection of 27th Ave and US-1 is being ignored. The sidewalk and bike lane improvements are great, but this intersection is one of the most hostile in all of Miami for pedestrians and cyclists. Without design upgrades to improve safety and aesthetics at this intersection, the Grove Metrorail station remains effectively alienated from the wonderful 27th Avenue improvements. It’s a classic example of Miami’s seemingly inextricable fragmentation - especially when it comes to transit and land-use planning.
This last Wednesday, the Planning Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend the City Commission not approve county-drafted zoning standards for the project. According to Chairwoman Arva Parks Moore, the standards for the project site were too general in that they did not include maximum limits for square footage or a minimum for residential units. Certainly the Grove NIMBYs were elated by the PAB’s vote, given their fervent contention that the two proposed mixed-use buildings were either way out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood at 19 stories, or missing key standards. While I am all in favor of high density development on this site, as well as adjacent to all metrorail stations, upon closer examination this project will be a disaster if built according to current specifications.
And no, I’m not referring to the height of these buildings - I’m referring to the massive amount of proposed parking. This project, proposed adjacent to a metrorail station and billed as a Transit Oriented Development infill project, is set to have a 611 space garage, 500 space garage, and 201 surface spaces. That’s over 1,300 parking spaces! Throw in the 204 surface spaces in the Grove Station’s park n’ ride lot, and you have over 1,500 parking spaces adjacent to a metrorail station that is two stops from downtown. Logistically, this is almost unfathomable. How can we expect anyone to ride transit in Miami when we keep building so car-oriented? Not only does this oversupply of parking induce travel to this location by automobiles and bastardize transit, it significantly increases the cost of the project and eliminates thousands of square feet that could have been used to build more affordable housing units.
It’s simple - as long as these kinds of projects keep getting built, especially next to transit stations, the likelihood Miami realizes its potential to become more sustainable, more pedestrian-oriented, and more transit-oriented is slim.
- Sidewalks: It appears that after years of embarrassing pedestrian-infrastructure, the county is planning on implementing sidewalks on both sides of 27th avenue in a uniform manner along the entire stretch of road south of US-1. It’s sad that I have to even mention sidewalks, given that they are as fundamental a part of a city as any piece of infrastructure, but in Miami this is never a given. I am a little disappointed that the new sidewalks are only proposed to be six feet wide; I would like to see 10-12 feet sidewalks throughout the avenue.
- Bike Lanes: Groveites, as well as any Miamian who frequents the neighborhood, should be very happy to learn that bike lanes are proposed for both sides of 27th Avenue south of US-1. This will be one of the first avenues anywhere in Miami or Miami Beach to get real bike lanes, which is quite a mystery given the fantastic riding conditions year-round. Now bicyclists who ride transit will have dedicated lanes to get to and from Grove Station and the neighborhood’s business district.
- Traffic Circle: One of the most contentious aspects of the plan is the proposed traffic circle at 27th, Tigertail, and Day Ave. The county is proposing an irregularly shaped traffic circle for this intersection, which would allow for the removal of traffic lights. Predictably, Day Avenue residents were concerned that traffic would increase significantly on their street. However, the county is planning on changing Day Avenue from one-way westbound to one-way eastbound, meaning one cannot enter Day Avenue from the 27th Avenue traffic circle. This will be ensured by a continuous portion of curb that will jut out just enough to make the turning angle onto Day Ave from the the circle impossible without going over the curb. I like this idea, because it will force cars to slow down considerably at this awkward and dangerous intersection. It will eliminate the need to wait for red lights to cross, as well as also making pedestrian crossings shorter.
- On-Street Parking: It looks like 27th Avenue will finally get on-street parking. The county plans on implementing 90 on-street spaces along this segment of the avenue, which would look similar to the set-up on Grand Avenue. The plan would have called for more on-street parking, but it wasn’t possible due to the ridiculously large number of driveways on the avenue. These on-street spaces are of the “cut-out” variety, meaning no current capacity will be taken by parking as the spaces are “carved” out of the sidewalk.
- Right-of-Way-Acquisition: Perhaps my favorite part of the plan was the proposed elimination of many parking swales (or parking lagoons) that line the avenue on both sides. These swales equate to such bad urban design for so many reasons, hence my appreciation for their removal. For one, they are just ugly to look at. A high quality pedestrian environment is certainly not define by any space flanked by automobiles. Also, these spots are small, so often times cars are parked on segments of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to slalom the cars (sometimes requiring movement into the road) to traverse the swales. Also, this provides way too many free parking spaces along what should be a transit-oriented thoroughfare. As long as an abundance of free parking is available throughout the city, especially in close proximity to transit stations, induced automobile demand will remain high and transit ridership will not realize its ultimate potential. Moreover, these swales are just dangerous. They often require backing into the road, or other maneuvering within the swale that breaches the sidewalk. Lastly, these swales have always been located within the county’s right-of-way, and therefore people were parking for free within illegal zones. Therefore, the county is only retaking what is already theirs.
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