The Florida Department of Transportation plans to rebuild a small section of Brickell Avenue to improve safety for cars in 2012. True to their autocentric focus, they are actually making conditions for those of us that walk on Brickell Avenue more dangerous. These so called “improvements” will include longer left-turn lanes and elimination of left turns at Southeast Sixth Street. Other “improvements” highlighted in a Miami Herald article include:
• Closing the median opening at Southeast Sixth Street, preventing left turns at this “high crash spot”
• Increasing the lengths of the left-turn lanes on Brickell Avenue for northbound traffic at Fifth and Seventh Streets
• Increasing the lengths of the left-turn lanes on Brickell Avenue for southbound traffic at Seventh and Eighth Streets
• Converting the northbound outside lane at Eighth Street from an exclusive right-turn only lane to a through and right-turn lane
• Installing new signs and traffic signals, and optimizing signal timing
The FDOT fails to recognize that by closing the median opening at Southeast Sixth Street they are reducing intersection density. Reducing intersection density does not calm traffic; in fact it has the opposite effect. It will only encourage more speeding on Brickell Avenue. This is the last thing we need.
The closure of the median at Southeast Sixth Street also eliminates the opportunity for an additional crosswalk. We need more crosswalks on Brickell Avenue. So far FDOT has committed to adding 2 or 3 additonal crosswalks on Brickell, this isn’t nearly enough. We have identified nearly two dozen locations that badly need crosswalks on Brickell Avenue.
According to an FDOT study there were least 82 accidents on this segment in 2008, including 62 sideswipes and rear-end collisions. Twenty were caused by northbound cars making left turns without yielding to southbound traffic. Lost in this study is the fact that a pedestrian was killed in this very same area several years ago. This statistic is not highlighted in the FDOT study and nothing is being done by FDOT to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety here or anywhere else on Brickell. Safety conditions for pedestrians in this area are obviously not a FDOT priority.
Meanwhile, our local elected officials have promised more safety improvements for Brickell Avenue. We here at Transit Miami have high expectations from FDOT and our elected officials. Please do not disappoint us. We don’t consider this a safety improvement. Nice try.
You can find the preliminary, non-finalized FDOT drawings for this project here.
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