If traffic engineers and transportation planners were to learn one thing in the last sixty years, they should have learned that we cannot build our way out of traffic congestion. That is to say, expanding roadways with additional travel lanes only induces demand for ever more road space, which gets us back into the exact same situation of congestion.
At what point will the omnipresent negative externalities of more traffic congestion, pollution and noise cause the people of South Florida to revolt? Highways in San Francisco, Milwaukee, New York City and Boston have all been replaced with human-scaled surface boulevards. Do you think they miss their freeways? How about the traffic?
All signs point to no.
Well, according to the FDOT road building cabal and this Miami Herald article, the people of South Florida are not ready yet, but they may be getting close.
The controversial expansion of the Palmetto Expressway/ Bird Road interchange project chronicled by the Herald as the second to last in a twelve part plan for expanding the Palmetto Expressway. Specifically, Bird Road is set to get fattened to eight lanes, like a nicely plumped Thanksgiving turkey.
Commissioner Souto had this to say about the imminent Bird Road expansion, when it went from four lanes to six.
“It created an expressway in the heart of a community and brought more traffic, more speeding and drag racing along Southwest 40th Street,” said Souto, who still hopes to halt the project. “It eliminated the entire green space and tree canopy along Bird Road, making it one of the least attractive corridors in the county.”
Despite resident and Commissioner opposition, FDOT officials will likely persevere, albeit with a few concessions made to those affected property owners and area stakeholders.
The concession of choice?
Probably a nice series of beautiful uber-beige sound walls!
There really is nothing like ghettofying an already unpleasant, traffic dominated suburban environment with yet another expensive wall to protect resdients from what should not have happened in the first place. In this regard, I am under the long term impression that most traffic engineers have very little respect for their fellow human beings.
According to the Herald article, the expansion project is really all about safety. Alice Bravo, director of transportation development for Florida Department of Transportation had this to say, “It’s important that we alleviate congestion. When you have so much congestion, the congestion itself turns into safety concerns.”
May I counter this with the prospect of cars, when not stuck in congestion, will travel ever faster due to the wider lanes on Bird? How about residents attempting to cross 8-lanes of high-speed, freeway exiting and approaching traffic to reach Tropical Park? Oh, and those pedestrian refuge islands that help the humans across the existing six lanes, those will have to go to. In the name of safety.
With a price tage of $177 million for this project alone, might I suggest rethinking this “safety” measure for one with an incredible record of performance?
Mass transit. Not only is it more efficient from a life cost, energy, people moving perspective, but you never have to widen the tracks!
How about it FDOT?
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