Currently viewing the tag: "Tunnel"

The New River and sailboats are inseparable. With naught but drawbridges in their way east of I-95 and Tri-Rail’s New River bridge, sailboats frequent that part of the river. Even the mighty US-1 bows to the sailboats by tunneling beneath the river.

A threat looms on the horizon, however. Passenger rail service on the Florida East Coast (FEC) corridor could mean a 55′ bridge over the New River, limiting the height of sailboat masts. According to a Sun-Sentinel blog post, Mayor Jim Naugle, a supporter of the FEC project, laid down the law, saying, “Thou shalt not restrict navigation.”

I fully agree with his desire to protect boat traffic. I was at a public meeting for the Sunrise Blvd. Bridge over the Middle River and saw the majority of attendees voice their support for a drawbridge to replace the current low fixed span. Despite the added costs, I would agree with them as well. When you see all its canals and rivers, you can understand why Fort Lauderdale claims the title “Venice of America”. But if they do not keep these canals open to boats, they cannot accurately keep the title.

Fort Lauderdale should vigorously protect the navigation rights of boaters. They must realize, though, that it comes at a cost. Just as a tunnel was constructed on US-1 at a much higher cost, a tunnel could be constructed on the FEC tracks for passenger service. The thing is, when the state cannot foot the bill for it, the city must be willing to pay for the expense. Throw another tax on the rich sailboat owners if you must. I’m sure they would rather pay more and keep their river open.

Photo by Flickr user scottlenger.

Tagged with:
 

Consider the following excerpt from the Herald:

Miami-Dade voters strongly oppose spending tax dollars on a baseball stadium and other projects in a $3 billion public works plan, but would back spending on local schools, a new poll shows.

The survey of 800 Miami-Dade registered voters suggests the public is reluctant to spend local tax dollars for ”luxury items” during an economic slowdown, said Sergio Bendixen, whose Bendixen & Associates conducted the poll.

I’m going to go ahead nip this one in the bud before anyone grabs it and runs with it.  The money (Note: vast majority, not all) earmarked for the Miami Megaplan is allotted for the sole use of the intended individual projects.

If Miami does not utilize the $500 million FDOT is providing for the tunnel project, the funds cannot be diverted to education, healthcare, or any other sector.  FDOT will simply reallocate the funds to another or various transportation projects in other counties within the state.  Our loss.

Now about the stadium.  That funding, 90% of the county’s share according to County Manager George Burgess, is coming from the tourist and convention development taxes.  Tax money, which once again, can only be used for programs that will stimulate more tourism within the Miami-Dade County area.

CRA Money?  Care to take a guess?  Yep.  This money can only be used for the improvement of the redevelopment districts.

Now, before we start crying foul about the Miami Megaplan or any other infrastructure upgrades in these self imposed difficult economic times, perhaps we should stop and consider where this funding is coming from and what we are permitted to do with it in the first place.  I find it rather irresponsible of Bendixen & Associates to perform such a rash survey without considering the complex funding restrictions.

Bendixen noted that the poll didn’t ask voters’ opinions of the projects, just the funding mechanism. ”Voters aren’t saying they don’t like the ideas, they don’t think these projects are good investment for tax money,” he said.

And clearly failed to consider how exactly these funding sources work…

Voters were even more opposed to paying for construction of a new museum park at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami. The poll found 66 percent of respondents found it a ”bad investment” for the county; while 29 percent considered it a “good investment.”

Guess what folks?  We had the chance to vote on this one already.  We approved the bond deal that enabled its funding.  Besides if we’re in such a dire need to improve our education, why not build these institutions of higher learning?  Every great city has large museums to compliment the classroom components of learning…

In 1911, an innovative tunnel opened in Hamburg, Germany beneath the Elbe River which featured very unconventional (and impractical) car elevators to access the passageway. The tunnel is still fully operating today, but mostly serves as a pedestrian passageway and tourist attraction. Check it out:

Tagged with:
 
City of Miami Commissioners will be voting today on ponying up their paltry $50 million share of a nearly Billion dollar plan to tunnel from Watson Island to the Port of Miami, providing direct highway access to the facility. We’ve discussed (See: Port Part 1, Part 2) how we prefer a rail option to be sought for the port first, however, given the strength of the trucking lobby it’s only natural that plans move ahead for a vehicular tunnel. The tunnel, rail or not, is a vital link to Miami’s second largest revenue generator and a necessary piece of infrastructure to help reform downtown Miami’s streets. The sidewalk cafe, pedestrianized urban environment will be completely impossible to achieve unless we remove the thousands of trucks and buses which currently traverse the downtown streets.
I received an email with a different opinion:

“The tunnel will take noise off the streets but add noise to the water, thus ruining the experience along the bay walk and Bicentennial Park. Imagine the noise of the trucks as they climb the incline as they leave Watson Island and move toward and past Bicentennial Park and the Carnival Center. This elevated noise will travel over water and neighborhoods ore then the street noise now.

At the least, sound walls would have to be studied and installed if the tunnel was to go forward or the bay walk and Bicentennial Park will be a flop as no one will want to experience the noise traveling over the open water.

I would be far better to create a tunnel cap over all of Watson Island instead of having a cover just over the portion of the new truck tunnel as it comes up out of the ground on the east end of Watson Island. That way Watson Island becomes quiet and an elevated park can be created on top of the tunnel way, linking the north and south sides of Watson Island.”

- Steve Hagen

A Sound wall on a bridge? This is the problem with suburban thinking in an urban setting. Steve clearly has never visited an urban park. I cite the serenity offered by Brooklyn Bridge park which is wedged between two high traffic bridges (Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge) leading to New York City:

Alesh Brings us the Port Tunnel Commercial…

Write to the commissioners and tell them you’d like a new, cleaner downtown free from port traffic:

TRegalado@miamigov.com

AGonzalez@ci.miami.fl.us

FCastaneda@ci.miami.fl.us

JSanchez@ci.miami.fl.us

SWright@ci.miami.fl.us

MSpence@ci.miami.fl.us

  • Tri-Rail Ridership is up 15% for the first six months of 2007. Making it the third fastest growing transit system in the Nation.
  • MPO suggests running a commuter train from Dadeland North to Metrozoo along the unused CSX tracks (finally!) The plan also calls for two express bus lines to travel down Kendall to 167th avenue and the other along 137th avenue from Kendall to FIU.
  • The FDOT is working hard to salvage the Port of Miami Tunnel plan after the city of Miami commissioners sabotaged it recently by not contributing their measly $50 Million share.
  • A new 45 story tower could soon be rising in the CBD…

Tagged with:
 

Seattle metro tunnel, originally uploaded by Adam Holloway.

The newly renovated Seattle Transit tunnel will reopen to the public next Monday. After a $94 Million renovation and retrofitting, the final phase of the tunnel will be complete in 2009 when the Sound Transit LRT begins to fully utilize the tunnel instead of the current buses. Due to the reconstruction, a revolutionary precedent was set along Seattle’s downtown third avenue:

“Meanwhile, Third Avenue, which became a bus-and-bike street at peak hours during the two-year tunnel closure, will remain that way. More than 20 downtown surface routes will be shifted to Third Avenue, replacing 18 bus routes that will enter the tunnel.”

Miami-Dade County Approved the funding for the Port of Miami Tunnel…

The 9-3 vote of approval wasn’t without some misdirected and unwarranted criticism due to French construction giant Bouygues Travaux Publics’ ties to Cuba. Of course, some of our elected officials had their priorities out of order, instead voting for what was best for Cuba than Miami:

”This project is morally wrong,” said Miami attorney Nicolas Gutierrez, who represents the descendants of a Cuban family whose property was expropriated by the Castro regime. One of the resorts that the Bouygues affiliate helped construct is on the family property in eastern Cuba.

But in the end, only Commissioner Javier Souto, a Bay of Pigs veteran, specifically mentioned the firm’s ties to Cuba in casting his vote against the deal. Also voting against the deal were Commissioners Natacha Seijas and Rebeca Sosa.

Last time I checked we elected our officials to do what was best for Miami-Dade, not Cuba, the US embargo is only applicable to US corporations, none of which were the low bidders for the port tunnel project to begin with. (Side note: last time I was in Europe, I drank from a Pepsi can which offering chances to win a “voyage for 2 to Cuba…” Where is the sense in that?) Their reservations about Bouygues Travaux are unwarranted when its a foreign company operating under foreign jurisdictions and policies and is further evidence that our commissioners tend to vote without knowing the pertinent facts…

Like I mentioned previously, the port of Miami tunnel appears to be a botched solution to the accessibility problems facing the port; designed to purely benefit the routes of the trucking industry. As some of you concluded, I believe some of the congestion issues we now face could have been alleviated earlier with the use of the at-grade FEC tracks which run directly into the port. A freight train could easily haul many containers out of the port to an inland port facility (Hialeah rail yards, ROW exists and is owned and operated by the FEC.) The inland port facility would then transfer the containers to trucks, placing the truck distribution closer to many of the warehouse destinations and reducing the number of trucks traveling along our highways and downtown. As someone duly noted, the train tracks also traverse the downtown, which would likely cause a great deal of congestion if these trains were to be operated during rush hour. Therefore, the trains would serve a more limited role, with travel times scheduled after downtown activity subsides but before the morning commute (ideally from Midnight to 5 am or so.) A point I’d like to emphasize is that the rail option should have been considered, heck used on a trail basis for part of the past two decades while a more permanent solution was found, at a mere fraction of the cost of what we’re going to face with the tunnel. The port is now looking at the idea of floating barges up the river with containers to be unloaded at the river facilities. I’d like you to take note of the traffic tie-ups which will be caused as a result of the more frequent use of the drawbridges under this scenario…

Meanwhile, the city of Los Angels is currently working on a plan to use existing tracks to transport goods from the port to an inland facility. The plan is projected to remove a large percentage of the 22,000 daily trips caused by the seaport daily. The $1.7 Billion project aims to revitalize a neglected airport for cargo uses, while creating an inland intermodal cargo facility.

After writing the first article, I obtained a copy of the latest MPO Freight Access report produced in February 2007 by Cambridge Systematics. In looking through the report briefly, the study covers all alternatives including: Port Truck Tunnel, Freight Train Tunnel, at grade train crossing, 6th street highway viaduct, and River option. The study also analyzes the aforementioned LA port inland facility currently underway. Before I can draw any further conclusions on the Port Tunnel Project or the feasibility of rail or water options, I will review the study and report my findings back at a later time…

Tagged with:
 
Before last Wednesday’s article in the Miami today, I was working on an article discussing the woes of the port of Miami container movement situation, which we’ll get to later. As many of you may know, a tunnel is in the works to connect the Port of Miami with I-395 via Watson Island, spanning the length of a mile beneath the Port’s main channel. The POM tunnel is a $1.2 Billion joint development project involving the FDOT, POM, MDX, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami. The project, in the works since the early 80’s, aims to remove some of the downtown congestion by directly connecting the port with the highway, no longer making it necessary for trucks and buses to traverse downtown streets. The idea isn’t half bad, considering the necessity which has evolved out of the downtown construction boom; however, I feel that we once again failed to properly evaluate all of our options, especially considering that it has been in the “works” for the better part of the past two, almost three decades. Take a few minutes and analyze the image below, found on the POM Tunnel project website and is presumably the same image our planners have been staring at for the past few years. There’s a striking port access option which, I fear, has been gravely overlooked:

Any guesses? I’ll be back with the second part of this article later today; the answer is certainly far simpler than the convoluted light barges up the Miami River option

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Tagged with:
 
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.