Just this past week two more crashes occurred on Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. That brings the total crashes to three in the past ten days and 14 in the past two years. Ten days ago I reported about a crash that occurred near NE 54th Street and several MiMo residents sent emails to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and to Commissioner Sarnoff. You can read their emails here. I wonder if they received a reply from either gentleman?
Ignoring the problem of the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard is no longer an option. It is only a matter of time before a fatality occurs and it is clear that something needs to be done. Biscayne Boulevard isn’t safe for pedestrians, cyclists or drivers, nor is it a business-friendly street.
This situation will only get worse if the flawed high-speed design of this road is not immediately resolved. Fourteen crashes, in a two year period, within a twenty-five-blocks isn’t an acceptable safety standard.
Please send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for everyone. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.
Check out how Biscayne Boulevard should look. Can you imagine a business and pedestrian-friendly MiMo with on-street parking? Wouldn’t it be nice if cars moved slower through the historic district? This is all possible- a team from the University of Miami developed three alternative streetscape designs for Biscayne Boulevard. Which alternative do you prefer?
- Commissioner Sarnoff realizes that being green makes green:
“A recent report by the Earthday Network ranked Miami 71 out of 72 major American cities based on environmental policies, the benefits of taking part in a Container Deposit Program, both financially and environmentally are too great to ignore,” says Commissioner Sarnoff. “The City currently spends more than $4 million dollars per year to clean storm drains which are full of bottles and cans, this would dramatically reduce that cost.”
- Ricky Williams may be pondering retirement - I hope he stays in Miami. I’ve always liked Ricky, especially since a 2008 interview where he extolled the virtues of walkable urbanism:
Well when I was living in Toronto I was living downtown and I could walk pretty much anywhere. There was a nice homeopathic shop on the boulevard I used to walk to and that was nice. Right where I lived there was a lot good restaurants. There was a good Tai food place. Across the street was a little corner store where people were really nice. And our neighbors became really close friends. So kind of just miss the community feel and all the great people that I got to meet that lived around where I got to live.
- Gables Parking study shows oversupply: Commissioner Sarnoff (who has become known for his anti-urban demand for more parking) should read through this recently issued report that shows that downtown Coral Gables, known as one of the most vibrant and economically healthy places in town, has an oversupply of parking. Wonder why? Duh…everyone is walking around.
- Kudos to Commissioner Francis Suarez, who has been on the rise as an ally in advocating for transit, cycling and smart growth. He recently attended Bike Miami Days, and has been a proponent of the new bike lanes on SW 16th street, between 32nd and 37 Avenues (next to the ugly new wall), as reported at the March BPAC committee. He also recently held an event to distribute free transit passes to seniors (thanks to the PTP), and has been very active in engaging remaining issues related to Miami 21 implementation. Other Commissioners - who shall not be named - could take a lesson from Commissioner Suarez, and his green awakening.
This afternoon I stopped by Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove to check out the new fitness area which was completed in January. Take a look at the pictures below; I think you’ll agree that the $24,500 investment has paid itself off already. The fitness area was packed with people of all ages. Again congratulations to Commissioner Mark Sarnoff, for allocating quality-of-life funds for this initiative. The fitness area is undeniably making our community healthier.
Transit Miami would like to give Commissioner Sarnoff a shout-out for bringing a free bayfront gym to Coconut Grove. The new exercise equipment at Kennedy Park includes benches, cross-trainers, parallel bars, leg presses, a horizontal ladder and rowing machine. The money came from Sarnoff’s quality-of-life funds and cost $24,500.
This is a great idea; by providing a free gym it should attract more people to use this beautiful park and thereby encouraging a healthier Miami.
According to the article in the Miami Herald, Commissioner Sarnoff got the idea from his trainer, Aida Johnson of Equinox Fitness Club, who helped create a similar program in Chicago. Personal trainers from Equinox, the Downtown Athletic Club, Paradise Gym and 24 Hour Fitness will also be at the park next week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to provide free instruction. You can find more information about when the trainers will be available here.
Remember: No pain, no gain; get out there and work it! Transit Miami wants Miami looking fabulous.
A plan is in the works to beautify and significantly enhance
A plan is already underway to beautify and realign the Boulevard from
The new proposed project further south, would mimic the successful design elements incorporated up north. The removal of the surface parking would significantly alter the width of the boulevard, making the menacing 8-lane behemoth a bit more manageable for pedestrians. Eliminating the useless (eyesore too, we might add) median parking will also provide about five extra acres of public space, which, if landscaped with shade trees will prove to be a boon to Bayfront Park and the River Greenway.
”This is as close to a no-brainer as you’ll ever find,” [Commissioner Marc Sarnoff] said. “It’s just wise and prudent for us to pursue this as quickly as possible.”
Other plans apparently appearing on an upcoming study of downtown
Via Homee’s Panoramio…
”Now, people go to cities because they have an interest in seeing what the life of the city is like,” he said. The problem with downtown today, [Bernard Zyscovich] said, is it’s “not the kind of place you’d ever want to come back to, by and large.”
The incorporation of more public green space and pedestrian friendly design elements is only the beginning of a much needed downtown overhaul which should be well in the works. Over the next two weeks, we’ll address how these improvements will spread west throughout the city’s central core, riverfront, and into the design district, creating a city that is navigable for people and more importantly creating abundant public spaces…Stay tuned, Miami’s pedestrian transformation is only one piece of the puzzle, which when combined with streetcar, bike, streetscape, and shading improvements, will make Miami’s urban core one of the most accessible (and desirable) places to live and visit…
Update: Critical Miami presents an excellent Overlay of Museum Park Plans…
Jorge Perez spoke out today at the City of Miami Commission Meeting clearing the names of Miami city officials who purchased condos in his affordable housing projects in downtown. He and city officials were recent targets in a Herald article which criticized the actions of related and city officials alike…
Personally, I’d have to agree that the buildings are out of context with their surroundings, but then again so are Mercy Hospital and the Grove Isle trio of towers. The traffic impact has likely been grossly miscalculated seeing that this is the equivalent of placing a skyscraper in suburbia, the only reasonable link between it and the surroundings will be vehicular. As for the visual impact, I think Vizcaya’s views will be pretty much unhampered. Mercy Hospital is currently visible from the grounds, as are the buildings on Brickell and Key Biscayne and yet they don’t seem to adversely impact the tranquility of the Gardens.
Since the last time I wrote on the Mercy Project, I still haven’t been able to come up with an valid enough stance either in favor or against the project. I lean against the project mainly because it continues the decentralization of skyscrapers that is so prevalent in Miami. Ultimately, I believe the towers would be better suited elsewhere, either north in the Brickell area or south in the Coconut Grove Business district, rather than in the Mercy site where they will forever be relegated as suburban towers only accessible by vehicles and disjointed from the bustling hubs to the north and south…
The U.S. Green Building Council South Florida Chapter and University of Miami School of Architecture present:
MIAMI STREET CAR UPDATE
7 pm. Refreshments at 6:30 pm, Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center Stanley and Jewell Glasgow Lecture Hall, Dickinson Drive, University of Miami, Coral Gables Campus. and open to the public.
Mary Conway, P.E., Chief of Operations, City of Miami
In recent years, the City of Miami has seen an unprecedented wave of urban infill and redevelopment in a compressed downtown core area, and in adjacent neighborhoods. Miami Streetcar Project has emerged as one essential component of a transportation network that will entice Miami motorists out of their cars, into convenient mass transit, and onto city (and County) streets. Miami Streetcar Project is a direct response to the challenge to provide improved mobility options for users of the transportation network throughout the downtown core. This presentation provides an update on the Miami Streetcar Project, and an overview of the roles that streetcar systems play in shaping cities, by fostering pedestrian-friendly urban environments, and re-invigorated downtowns across the United States. This affordable mode of mass transit is emerging as an increasingly popular application, because of its cost-effective and time-efficient construction, its financial affordability, and its ready adaptability to active pedestrian-focused environments. City of Miami has responded to the local mobility challenge by pursuing multi-agency partnerships and innovative project delivery methods to build the single transit investment that could make a profound difference in re-shaping downtown Miami, in record time.
Mary H. Conway, P.E., currently serves as the Chief of Operations for the City of Miami and is a prominent Civil Engineer and Project Manager with more than 18 years of experience in the industry. studied briefly at Harvard University and the United States Naval Academy before earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Miami. was the recipient of the “Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Graduate” award from University of Miami as well as a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, engineering honor societies. Prior to joining the City, Mary worked with the Florida Department of Transportation for over 10 years, where she oversaw major transportation projects in Miami-Dade County as well Broward to Indian River Counties. She also worked with FPL as a service planner and Beiswenger, Hoch and Associates as a production and project manager. served as Director for the City of Miami Capital Improvements and Transportation (CIT) Department for approximately two years. Mary’s hard work and results were recognized and she was promoted to Chief of Operations and is now responsible for overseeing the following Departments: Parks and Recreation, Solid Waste, General Services Administration (GSA), Public Works and CIT. Mary has also continued her involvement with CIT,responsible for overseeing the planning, coordination,implementation and monitoring of all construction related capital projects and transportation projects in the City of Miami. projects include street infrastructure and flood mitigation; park improvements; public facilities including fire stations, police and other city buildings; marinas; the Orange Bowl; and a state of the art urban streetcar transit circulator project. City’s current Capital Improvement and Multi-year plan encompasses over 1100 projects valued at over $675,000,000 through the year 2010 and will certainly increase as Miami continues to grow. experience, professionalism, dedication and drive have earned her the respect of her peers in the City, with other government agencies and within the engineering community at large.
- 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.
- FDOT planned to remove most of the palms on
Biscayne Boulevardto replace them with shade trees such as Oaks, in order to enhance the pedestrian experience along the boulevard and to improve “safety” along the corridor in a new ROW acquisition.
- The FDOT plan was met by stiff activist resistance, opposing the removal of any trees and opposing the plans by the FDOT.
- To date, 135 palms have been removed, approximately 2/3 of the palms along the corridor which were planted over 80 years ago to commemorate the Veterans of all Wars.
- Trees continued to fall, as recently as February 6.
- On February 7th, the FDOT agreed to stop further destruction of the Royal palms, claiming that the trees removed the day before were either sick or part of the ROW acquisition.
- Today, after the lobbying of Commissioner Sarnoff and Mary Conway, the FDOT has finally agreed to end the destruction. The
Biscayne Boulevardcorridor will now feature much more foliage than had been previously planned, including more Royal Palms and various other shade trees.
It’s difficult to swallow the “pedestrian enhancement” bull the FDOT is throwing at us when the trees are being removed to further enhance the traffic flow along the corridor. As the herald article noted,
The bigger picture I’d like to point out is while one local agency works to make our streets more pedestrian friendly, our city commission is out approving a monstrous structure with 1,700 parking spaces in the immediate area. Note above: the pedestrian friendly streets of yesteryear featured not only pedestrian friendly foliage but streetcars as well. The approval of 2222 Biscayne is a dark reminder of how far we still have to go to improve the urban culture of our city. Any structure on an existing or planned public transit route should feature far less parking than the city code currently calls for and certainly far less than the 1 space/250 square feet offered by this eyesore…
The LRT along the FEC corridor appears to be the favored alternative transportation choice of those in favor of and against the
Count them. Not one, or two, but three independent studies call for increased density along the US-1 rapid transit corridor.
21 studies, Miami-Dade Watershed Studies, and Coconut Grove planning studies all encourage increased density along US1 and near Metrorail stations. Miami
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing better than some cold hard facts to combat the closed minded NIMBY thought process:
“Rush hour is already a nightmare; this will make things even worse,” said Kenneth Newman at a recent meeting between the developer and Grove Residents. “A lot of people are saying that it’s not going to work because rich people don’t ride the Metrorail…they have nice cars and they want to drive them,” says one Grove activist [Mr. Nimby] who wishes to remain nameless.
However, studies conducted by the transit department reveal a pattern that seems to have less to do with income level and more to do with urban design.
We needed a study to reach that conclusion after 20 years!? You could have looked at just about any other city in the world to see that we were doing things backwards.
Dadeland South and Dadeland North, the two southernmost Metrorail stations recorded the seconded highest weekly ridership averages of more than 6,500 boardings each. These two stations are not located in high poverty areas.
I wonder, perhaps, by how much the daily use of metrorail is going to increase once the units at Downtown Dadeland, Toscano, Colonnade, and Metropolis come fully onto the market. Let’s not forget about the upcoming
As Ryan showed below, the city is planning on investing millions of dollars to transform the area along
All is silent over at CGG…
My lengthy reply to Mr. Frank Rollason:
It’s great to finally get some discussion going on this critical issue with some of Miami’s more prominent individuals such as yourself. I followed the election closely and was hoping that your campaign would have taken you a bit further.
The streetcar issue is a difficult situation to address. I’ve given this idea much thought and have tried to analyze its’ impact from all different angles. In the end, I concede that I am a bit of a realist when it comes to this sort of development but I find it difficult to think otherwise especially when I’ve witnessed and studied similar projects rise flawlessly around the United States and the World.
Placing cost the cost of the streetcar aside for a second, I’d like to first discuss the impact that the streetcar would have on the city, its residents, and the future of both.
As I mentioned previously, the streetcar would serve as an economic engine for the city, steering development along its corridor. You informed me that residents are against further development, a fact which I have come to understand from their perspective, seeing that all upcoming development within their neighborhoods is likely being improperly constructed to suit the needs of urban living elements such as the streetcar (see: New Urbanism.) Their stance isn’t unwarranted, seeing how terribly these buildings were designed and then approved by the hapless commission. Growth, however, is inevitable in every city. A stagnant growth stance by any municipality will in the long run lead to further economic strife for both the city and residents. I get the feeling that much of the anti-growth sentiment can be attributed to the lack of reasonable transportation options to offset the increase in traffic, general regulatory abuse by the city commission to approve every building, and overall disregard by the developers. Not building the streetcar, the area we’ll continue to witness truly devastating projects (ie. 2222 Biscayne, Bayview Market) rise throughout the district. A streetcar combined with the appropriate rezoning would severely alter the type and context of the development which will inevitably continue in the area. By placing better constraints on development within a close boundary of the corridor, I feel that the area citizens will fully benefit from the streetcar, truly creating an environment (detailed in this herald article from 2002) where people can live without the burden of owning an automobile. (Note: the constraints that I speak of are used in various municipalities and include: minimal parking requirements for buildings within a stated distance of the transit corridor, required building/street interaction elements like covered porticos and ground level retail, on street municipal parking, pedestrian-only zones, etc.) I would not endorse the streetcar if such constraints were not enacted simultaneously in order to guarantee its success.
The streetcar is much more than simply another form of transportation; it’s a critical piece of Miami 21 and a vital method of reconstructing our city in manner which caters to humans rather than vehicles.
Going along with the constraints I mentioned above, the economic benefit that the streetcar would provide the city is well worth more than its initial costs. Placing constrictions on developments within the corridor such as requirements for affordable housing in the form of rental units would not be unreasonable. Using principles outlined in Miami 21, the city can rezone the corridor to include areas which would favor the construction of mid-density and lower priced rental units or condominiums. The affordable housing units would be cheaper to develop given the lower parking constraints and thus construction costs while eliminating the burden of relying on a vehicle for some of the city’s neediest constituents.
The $200 Million price tag is certain to go up, a fact we can both easily agree upon. However, the state (according to recent reports) would front half the costs leaving the rest to be divided among the city and the county. The city has received $42 Million thus far from its’ share of the PTP, money which must be used for city transit options. MDT could also be sought to fund part of the streetcar. Given that a significant sum of the initial cost of streetcars nationwide is attributed to finding a facility to house and maintain the vehicles, the city could look to partner with MDT to build a joint facility which could accommodate the Miami streetcars as well as the upcoming Baylink cars, saving both agencies large sums of money in the long term. All in all, I’m not saying or thinking that any of this will be easy to accomplish, considering the limited discussion which regularly occurs between the city and county, but, it is definitely a reasonable project which in reality would not require such a grave commitment on the part of the city.
Traffic will only continue to get worse within the city, plain and simple. With the new developments rising and the plethora of interest remaining in the neighborhood, developers are going to continue to exploit the neighborhood. We’re going to continue to see buildings situated on massive parking pedestals and we will soon witness gridlock bring many streets to a grinding halt.
Running the streetcar in a lane of traffic would actually improve traffic flows along the corridors. Through improved signal timing and using technology pioneered in Toronto back in 1991 with signal priority timing, the corridor would feature advanced ITS which is endorsed by the USDOT. The Toronto study found that total corridor delay was reduced by 35% (better than with bus signal priority timing) and there were no significant impacts on side street queue delays.
The Bus “Alternative”
From the American Public Transportation Association:
The Transportation Research Board Special Report No. 1221, “Impact on Transit Patronage of Cessation or Inauguration of Rail Service” dated 1989, and authored by transportation researcher Edson L. Tennsyson concluded the following:
“Because transit use is a function of travel time, fare, frequency of service, population, and density, increased transit use can not be attributed to rail transit when these other factors are improved. When these service conditions are equal, it is evident that rail transit is likely to attract from 34 to 43 percent more riders than will equivalent bus service. The data do not provide explanations for this phenomenon, but other studies and reports suggest that the clearly identifiable rail route; delineated stops that are often protected; more stable, safer, and more comfortable vehicles; freedom from fumes and excessive noise; and more generous vehicle dimensions may all be factors.”
Click on this link, Transportation Research Record 1221, for the full text of this research report.
- Currently there are 26 existing streetcar/trolley lines operating in the United States and Canada with a whopping 61 other cities actively planning streetcar initiatives. There are over 200 municipalities vying for federal funding leaving funds scarce and competition fierce (Source APTA.)
- Since 1995, public transit ridership has expanded 25 percent (to 9.7 billion trips in 2005). From 25 in 2000, the country’s fixed-guideway (rail or bus) transit systems are likely to grow to 42 by 2030, adding 720 stations to today’s total of 3,349.
- Streetcars are experiencing a revival worldwide with new lines opening in Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Bilbao, just to name a few…
- Streetcars were not dismantled due to a lack of ridership, many were dismantled by GM to push for the expansion of roads and highways…
Like I stated at the beginning, I may suffer from viewing things in an idealized fashion but the facts to support streetcars in Miami abound. I realize it will take a large amount of municipal responsibility and government oversight (something we have been known to skimp on in the past) to fully realize the maximum potential this project has to offer the city and constituents. The current arguments against the streetcar are weak, to place it as mildly as possible. Hurricane concerns can be overcome, development can (and should) be better controlled, and construction costs should not run amuck with city’s treasury. The time has come for the city to take transportation initiatives into its own hands to better provide for the upcoming growth we will continue to experience. Thank you for your time, I hope we can continue to discuss this topic further. I have many more reasons why you should support the streetcar including environmental concerns, job opportunities, and tourism…
Let me know if I may share this discourse with the readers of TransitMiami.com…
Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal
LISTEN TO THE LATEST TALKING HEADWAYS PODCAST
Find us on Facebook
Subscribe via Email
TagsBicycle Bicycle Infrastructure bicycles bike lanes Bike Miami Days Bikes bikeway biking Brickell bus Calendar Climate Change Coconut Grove complete streets Congestion Cycling Downtown Miami Downtown Miami FDOT MDT Metromover Metrorail Miami Miami-Dade County Miami-Dade Transit Miami 21 Miami Beach Miami Dade Parking Parks Pedestrian Pedestrian Activity Pedestrians Pic o' the Day Public Transit Rickenbacker Causeway Sprawl Streetcar Traffic Transit Transit Oriented Development Transportation Tri-Rail Uncategorized Urban Planning