Currently viewing the tag: "I-595"

The FDOT (The Department of Streets and Highways) is seeking approval of transportation planners in Broward and Palm Beach Counties to approve five-year plans for road and “transit” projects. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

“A total of $2.37 billion will be spent in Broward County and $916 million in Palm Beach Countyfrom 2012 through 2016.”

Wow, pretty cool, eh? With over $3 Billion in spending we’ll surely be zipping along the FEC corridor from Miami to Jupiter in no time. Perhaps we’ll be able to ride the Ft. Lauderdale Wave Streetcar from my downtown office to the Broward General Medical Center. Heck, maybe we’ll be commuting on some new flashy BRT routes throughout both counties. Nope. This is FDOT we’re talking about - there is only one right way to blow $3.3 Billion.

“Major highway projects in Broward and Palm Beach counties are moving from the top of wish lists to reality.”

Oh Joy! Christmas has come early!

“State officials are including money in the latest plan to build an interchange for FAU’s new stadium in Boca Raton, widen State Road 7 in southern Broward County and expand the last two-lane section of Andrews Avenue in Pompano Beach.

It’s a dramatic turnaround from two years ago when the state had to delay numerous projects because of a decline in gas tax revenues and other resources. The state couldn’t keep up with the rising cost of land and materials to build roads.”

That’s right, we need more interchanges and lanes. Silly me. How could I forget how effective incessantly widening highways to meet ever growing congestion needs has been? For all their faults, the FDOT will be investing some money in Transit. Just what exactly? I’m so glad you asked:

“The county will study improving mass transit on its busiest routes — Broward Boulevard, Oakland Park Boulevard, State Road 7 and U.S. 1. The improvements could range from pull-outs so buses don’t hold up traffic to special equipment that allows buses to pre-empt traffic signals so they stay green longer so they can get through intersections.

Another study will look at improving State Road 7 from northern Broward into southern Palm Beach County, by improving mass transit and adding lanes.”

Wouldn’t want those buses to get in the way of all those cars now would we? Now, let’s get this straight. FDOT suddenly has $3.3B more to spend between 2012 and 2016 in Broward and Palm Beach. So the logical solution is to pump the money into projects already underway? And, for safe measure, to cover their asses and pretend to be serving the best interest of all transit modes, they decided to invest a pittance into transit studies?

“The new projects are in addition to work that already is started or will begin next year, such as the extension of the I-95 express lanes to Fort Lauderdale that will begin next year, the I-595 construction and I-95 widening in northern Palm Beach Countyunderway and construction of a new Eller Drive overpass connecting I-595 to Port Everglades that will start in 2011.”

I know what you’re all thinking. C’mon, 95 Express - dude its a transit project, kinda - we’re getting buses to use those routes and whisk passengers across highways to their destinations quickly and effectively. After all, one of the main selling points of the 95 Express HOT Lanes was the ability for transit buses to access the tolled lanes free of charge, providing transit riders with a cheap alternative to driving alone and simultaneously improving the commute time of “regional” service buses. In theory this plan works. In theory. But we lack the sufficient density to make BRT along our highways effective; and, congestion hasn’t reached the point to justify the time it would take users to park-and-ride.  Plus, BCT and MDT lack the funds to keep these buses operating:

“The Broward County Commission will hold a public hearing at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December  14, 2010, at the Broward County Governmental Center, Room 422, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, for public input on proposed changes to the 95 Express Bus Service.  The proposed changes would become effective on Monday, January 10, 2011.”

The proposed service changes are:

  • Discontinued service to the Golden Glades Park & Ride stop
  • Discontinued reverse commute trips from Miami during the morning peak hours
  • Discontinued reverse commute trips from Pembroke Pines during the afternoon peak hours

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The Not-In-My-BackYard syndrome rages on in Broward County. If there is one facility that seems calm, sedate, and most likely to be desired in one’s backyard, it would be a shared use path for bicycles and pedestrians. No engine noise, no fumes, no rushing traffic. Just some neighbors going for a leisurely stroll or a quiet bike ride. It sounds pretty relaxing, right? Apparently residents in Plantation Acres don’t think so.

The Sun-Sentinel reported last week that some residents near a proposed multi-use path that is part of Broward County’s Greenways fear it will cause a rise in crime. One resident even offered a long list of things that were recently stolen from cars in his neighborhood. The article points out some data supporting that bicycle paths do not cause rises in crime, but fails to point out common sense.

First, if there’s crime now, that doesn’t mean a shared-use path will increase the level of crime. If crime went up after a path was put in, it would be a post hoc fallacy to assume that because of the path the crime went up. But the residents’ reasoning doesn’t even go that far! The residents are talking about a future project and doing nothing more than expressing their paranoia. They are seeing a rise in crime in their neighborhood now. Naturally, this is creating a little nervousness for them. They happen to see a project that might bring outsiders into their neighborhood, so their nervousness increases. Normally there might be something to it, but not so if you stop to think about it.

How are crimes committed? How do criminals get away with the loot? Generally, not by bicycle or on foot. If they want to steal electronics and weapons from cars or houses, they will need a vehicle to stash the goods. It ensures a quicker getaway without attracting attention. So where could anyone even get the idea in their head that a path for bicycles and pedestrians will make it easier for criminals to enter their neighborhood?

I honestly cannot figure out why the Sun-Sentinel even bothered to publish an article based on the opinion of a few paranoid people! To make it even more ironic, they point out that Plantation Acres is an equestrian community. Broward County’s Greenways page makes it clear that the paths are for equestrian use as well as bicycle use. These people will have a chance to ride their horses across the county on this and connecting trails, yet they still rise up against it.

It looks like FDOT will be installing fences to quell the fears of these residents. If the residents have any sense, they will take the time to install their own fences now to avoid the crime issues that are happening now. Their crime problems are happening now, and they have no reason to take out their frustration on one of FDOT’s better projects.

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While plans move forward to expand I-595 in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin County commissioners are working on a plan to bring east-west Tri-rail service along the beeline expressway. The commissioners hope to one day use the existing CSX rail tracks to link research and biomedical facilities in the works in both counties. Unlike their Broward counterparts, these commissioners see the financial advantage of not widening roads and instead using our money wisely:

“Koons estimated that widening the road to accommodate development could cost $1 billion…”

“Many of those developments are running into traffic concerns because parts of SR 710 are getting congested. Future development could be prohibited if the highway isn’t widened. Using commuter rail could reduce the need for widening, Koons said, and help solve affordable housing problems.

“You can afford more housing if you have to spend less on transit,” he said.”

Nice to know someone sees it…

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