At last year’s Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) Transportation Summit, Maurice Ferré, former City of Miami Mayor and current Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) Chair, pointed to a map of his agency’s current and future projects and declared that it was MDX’s “dream” — yes, that’s a quote — to realize the proliferating highway vision embodied by that map.

A major feature of MDX’s so-called dream includes expanding the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) down through the far southwest reaches of Miami-Dade County. One of the competing versions of the dream would put the newly expanded tolled highway along the Miami-Dade County urban development boundary (UDB).



Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in 2013. Source: Miami Geographic / Matthew Toro. 2014.

Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in 2013. Source: Miami Geographic. 2014.

Tolled highways are generally great, as they create an economic disincentive to single-occupant automobile use. People often respond to the price triggers of tolled highways by turning to more affordable, more accessible public transportation (bus, train, etc.), active mobility (biking, walking, etc.), and alternative mobility (car-pooling, short-distance car-sharing (Car2Go), real-time ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft), etc.) options.

In the metropolitan context of Miami-Dade County, though, these options are either underdeveloped or are just now getting started in earnest.

The Metrorail system, for instance, serves a very limited corridor.

Metrorail System 1-Mile Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. Miami Geographic. 2014.

Metrorail System 1-Mile Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. Miami Geographic. 2014.

An extensive bus system traverses most major arterial roads moving north-south and east-west, but buses carry a stigma of being either unreliable or unpleasant, or both.

Miamians are increasingly realizing that cycling and walking to their destinations isn’t as hard as our automobile-dominated culture would have us otherwise believe. Still, we’re many years away from realizing the active mobility utopia Miami has the potential to be.

In light of this shortage of viable mobility alternatives, then, one might think that the toll revenues generated by Miami’s highway dystopia would be directed toward investment in better public transportation infrastructure and streetscape amenities (e.g., wider sidewalks, proper bike lanes, etc.).

The problem with MDX, though, is that the toll monies it collects are used for increased highway development and an unwarranted expansion of roadway jurisdiction, not for the sorts of investments that would move greater Miami away from its automobile dependence.

As one of many cases in point: MDX is actively seeking to convert the only bus route in Miami-Dade County even remotely resembling true bus rapid transit, the South Miami-Dade Busway, into a highway falling under its jurisdiction, complete with overpasses and all.

Dumping more money into highways is tantamount to our community collectively signing a 50-100-year contract of servitude to stop-and-go highway hell. And that’s not to mention all of the broader economic and environmental ramifications: subsidizing the air-choking, global warming oil and gas industries; the financial crisis-inducing, and obesity-encouraging single-family real estate sprawl sector; the deforestation-promoting rubber sector in the tropics; the list goes on.

Miamians don’t have to accept this fate, though. We don’t have to sign away our city to this chain of corporate profiteers who refuse to adapt to the innovations in transportation infrastructure and human life demanded by 21st century urbanism.

The very first “Open House: Public Kick-off Meeting” for MDX’s Southwest Highway Expansion “dream” will be held in less than two weeks. This is Miami’s first real opportunity to voice its concerns about the project’s short-, medium-, and long-term impacts.

At the risk of sounding (even more?) cynical, I dare posit that these sorts of meetings are intended primarily to fulfill certain state and federal requirements to maintain minimum transparency levels, as well as to offer just enough opportunity for public input so that any future complaints made when the real impacts of such projects are felt can be expediently dismissed with the standard bureaucratic “We offered the public the chance to speak, and no such concerns were brought up then.” By then, it’s simply too little, too late.

The point is that the time to speak is now — during this preliminary Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study — not when this study materializes into an actionable plan and the construction crews are out there at the edge of the Everglades laying out a new highway.

Don’t let MDX’s highway dream become Miami’s prolonged highway nightmare. Be there and speak up!


MDX SR 836 / Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension

Open House Public Kickoff Meeting

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6:00pm - 9:00pm

Miami Baptist Church

14955 SW 88th Street

Miami, FL 33196

7 Responses to Will Miamians Allow MDX to Realize its Southwest Highway ‘Dream’?

  1. Carlos says:

    We should not continue to believe the “MDX lie” that there is no other way. Ferre sounds like a broken record every time you mention transit. “Who’s going to pay for it? Metro Rail cost $100 million a mile!” We need fresh “out side the toll lane” thinking. MDX has been too successful at the expense of real transit thinking and alternatives. Then we get stuck with the environmental and social consequences 20-30 years later. Hey, the Romans proved that if you build a road a city will rise up around it. And this holds true today. Don’t let them build the Everglades Expressway. Marjory Stoneman Douglas would not have approved of this.


  2. Diego says:

    “Miamians do not have to demand this fate?” Say who? You? I accept that fate, and so do many suburbanites who would benefit greatly from an expanded highway to the west. The problem of this vision you speak of and pursue is that it comes at the expense of a large portion of the population who want to live in the suburbs and willingly use cars. They have to deal with the hassle of going through Bird, Miller, Kendall, Killian, Coral Reef to head to the southwestern portions of the county. A large portion (the majority) of Miami-Dade will always be dependent on the car and it is foolish to ignore that fact in any urban planning.


  3. Robert Friedman says:

    So Mr. Maurice Ferré complains that Metrorail costs 100 million a mile. The 1.2 mile I-395 rebuild is 600 million that’s 500 million a mile (6 miles of Metrorail). In Broward the 13 mile I-595 rebuilt for toll lanes is 1.79 billion that’s 137 million a mile. Even up in Orlando where I live now the rebuild of I-4 21 miles downtown Orlando is 2.36 million that is 112 million per mile. In all cases the original roadway cost less. I grew up in Hialeah, think about how much money was poured into the Palmetto Expressway per mile over the years. I learned to drive in 1973 that miserable “expressway” has always been under construction. Heavy rail metro lines can potentially carry more people that any expressway. The 4 track Lexington line carries 1.3 million people a mile. I-595 is expected to carry 300,000 vehicles in 2030 max 10 lanes. The average ridership in USA interstates is 1.2 passengers per car (every 5th car has 2 people) so 375,000 people per day Considering what 4 tracks can carry on the MTA, the two track Metrorail theoretically in a busy mass transit network is capable of being upgraded to something like 600,000 per day (a train every 5 minutes like NYC). Don’t forget Metrorail is barely wider than one lane of I-595 an is elevated. I-595 occupies lots of potentially more valuable land, nor can it support high density very profitable development where people would want to live. All this info is easy to look up on line.


  4. SEFTA says:

    to say “Miami-Dade will always be dependent on the car” lies to the fact that there will be NO other options because of these decisions being made now. These new highways will be the only things moving because the rest of coast will be in a virtual stand still. Because of these decisions being made now. People along the coast will be at the mercy of MDX and their “goodwill”?


  5. Urbanity says:

    To Diego, and people like him:

    The suburban way of living is subsidized by people living in more densely populated parts of the county. The costs of infrastructure (e.g. sewer lines, roads, utilities, and services like police or fire) are so expensive to build and maintain for individual homes. This is because the number of property tax payers per mile is so low. As a result, suburbs are encouraged to expand as new development pays for the old. Dense areas, such as Miami Beach or Brickell, actually cost much less because the number of tax payers per mile is exorbitantly higher. If people want to live in the suburbs, that is fine, but they should contribute their fair share of taxes. Once that happens, I think the suburbs become a lot less appealing, especially when all the highways are clogged.


  6. B says:

    I believe a $800M signature 395 expressway bridge in downtown Miami would qualify as significantly more expensive than $100M/mile!!!

    And to make matters worse, the existing bridge is perfectly functional, and only backs up during accidents and events like Heat games, which will still happen with the new bridge.

    Re-constructing I-95 at today’s prices and land values would also come in at over $100M/mile, and the Golden Glades interchange reconstruction is also going to cost several $100M’s.


  7. IvoSan says:

    I think MDX should limit themselves to managing and improving existing expressways. Their ideas for new ways are appalling


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