A special thank you to Andres Viglluci from the Miami Herald for reporting about the upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project. As many of our readers know, Transit Miami has been trying to persuade FDOT to make Brickell Avenue more pedestrian-friendly.
Brickell Avenue is probably the most densely populated area in the state. If FDOT can’t properly design a road for all users here, then there isn’t much hope for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the rest of the state.
Want a safer Brickell Avenue? Please sign this letter to District 6 Secretary Gus Pego.
You can find links to our articles and videos about Brickell Avenue below:
Want a job where you are accountable to no one? Apply at FDOT.
Unsuitable Brickell Avenue (video)
We owe FDOT an apology. FDOT did reply to our email in which we requested from FDOT that they reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue. Unfortunately, FDOT’s reply was flagged as spam and we found the email about three weeks after we received a reply. Mr. Gus Pego forwarded our email to Mr. Ramon Sierra who replied to our email on October 7, 2010. Please see FDOT’s response below:
Dear Ms. Moore,
This email is in response to your recent request to Gus Pego to reduce the posted speed limit on Brickell Avenue to 25 MPH. We appreciate and value your concern, as safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority too.
An average of 30,000 vehicles travel on this road daily and the area’s population density stands at about 25,000 people per square mile. Therefore, balancing the need for safety for all roadway users and adjacent property owners and preserving the roadway’s operational integrity is essential to maintain and even enhance the quality of life along the avenue.
The primary purpose of a speed limit is to provide improved safety by reducing the probability and severity of crashes. Properly set speed limits provide more uniform flow of traffic and appropriately balance risk and travel time, which results in the efficient use of the highway’s capacity and fewer crashes. Data and studies conducted through-out the country suggest that changes to posted speed limits do very little to change driver behavior, but instead increase the roadway speed differential - the speed difference between the highest and lowest speeds of vehicles using the facility. It is widely accepted within the traffic engineering and law enforcement communities that increased speed differential, not posted speed is what contributes to increased crash rates.
The Department uses the 85th percentile method to determine appropriate and safe posted speed limits. Based on extensive nationally accepted studies and observations, this method measures the speed of hundreds of vehicles and identifies the speed 85 percent of drivers travel at as reasonably safe for the various roadway conditions they encounter, regardless of the speed limit. Meaningful law enforcement is essential to ensure that the remaining 15 percent of drivers comply with the posted speed limit.
Speed data we collected on Brickell Avenue from S.E. 25th Road to S.E. 10th Street on September 16th, 2010 revealed the following:
- North of S.E. 25th Road: The 85th percentile speed was 45 MPH and the current posted speed limit is 40 MPH.
- South of S.E. 15th Road: The 85th percentile speed was 45 MPH for northbound traffic and 43 MPH for southbound traffic. This location lays between the 35 and 40 MPH posted speed limit sections.
- South of S.E. 10th Street: The 85th percentile speed is 39 MPH for northbound traffic and 37 MPH for southbound traffic. The current posted speed limit is 35 MPH.
A 5 MPH difference between the 85th percentile and posted speeds is considered acceptable. Therefore, we conclude that the current posted speed limit is appropriate along the entire segment.
The Florida Department of Transportation appreciates the time you took to express your comments and concerns. While you may disagree with the Department’s position, I hope this email helped explain and clarify the reasons we do not favor revising the posting speed limit on Brickell Avenue given present conditions.
For general information related to how speed limits are set and the effects of lowering and raising speed limits on roadway sections, you may want to visit the following websites:
Ramon Sierra, P.E.
Assistant Traffic Operations Engineer
Florida Department of Transportation
Apologies for our mistake. Nevertheless, we don’t find FDOT’s response agreeable. We still believe the speed limit should be reduced and additional crosswalks and bicycle sharrows need to be included during the upcoming resurfacing project. Please let us know what you think of FDOT’s response in the comments section. We promise to keep fighting for the residents and businesses on Brickell. After all, it seems that FDOT is the only one that believes cars should take priority over people.
This past July, we celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) which among other things prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability. A major component of the ADA mandated paratransit service to help mobility-impaired and disabled Americans get from one place to another. The ADA act is focused on inclusion - adopting standard practices in urban design that make our buildings, streets, and transit more universally designed to accommodate all. A component of the ADA act requires sidewalks to be at least 3 feet wide to accommodate wheelchairs.
Naturally, I was shocked when I came across the following site a few weeks ago when I was near Merrick Park in Coral Gables.
This is the site of a recent FDOT project aimed at resurfacing Bird Road from 57th Avenue to 38th Avenue. In this image I’m standing at the Southeast corner of Ponce De Leon and Bird Road, looking north. I didn’t have the time to measure the distance between the curb and the concrete electric pole, but in person the distance certainly appeared to be less than 3 feet wide. Here is how the FDOT describes this improvement:
This project is repaving and restriping the roadway. Work also includes widening the bridge and road shoulder; building a new sidewalk on the north side of Bird Road; upgrading sidewalks and curb ramps; installing drainage materials to alleviate water build-up in the swale area; performing root pruning and trimming; removing landscaping; upgrading the lighting and installing new traffic and pedestrian signs and signals; removing existing guardrail and installing new guardrail at various locations and installing a pedestrian bridge.
Miami’s walkability level, already fairly dismal because of our autocentric growth, only deteriorates further when we litter and obstruct sidewalks with other urban clutter. Electric poles, bus stops, lights, trees, benches, and trash receptacles all have a place and a role in our urban environments; sidewalks shouldn’t sacrifice their limited alloted space within the right-of-ways to accommodate these fixtures.
We’re going to reach out to our friends at FDOT and the City of Coral Gables to see what can be done to enhance the pedestrian realm rather than simply “beautifying” and accentuating existing barriers. And, while its probably too late to have any significant impact on this project as it was slated for completion in October 2010 - we hope we can help affect change on any future improvements to the pedestrian environment throughout South Florida.
I’m not sure if they are hiring, but…
As many of our readers know, Brickell Avenue is due for some major work. FDOT will begin a drainage and resurfacing project in early 2011. This long overdue project is finally coming to fruition, however, the only improvements FDOT is considering for this project is the resurfacing and drainage upgrade. This would be a perfect opportunity for FDOT to consider reducing the high speed limit, adding crosswalks and including bicycle sharrows. Unfortunately, FDOT does not believe any of these upgrades are necessary.
We here at Transit Miami caught wind of this upcoming project and have been busy building a coalition of residents, businesses, and other organizations to reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue. A few weeks ago we met with Commissioner Sarnoff and Mayor Regalado. We are happy to report that both the Mayor and the Commissioner support a reduced speed limit. Unfortunately, they both informed us that there is not much they can do since Brickell Avenue is a state road; therefore the city of Miami has no jurisdiction over it.
Both Commissioner Sarnoff and Mayor Regalado suggested we speak to Representative Luis Garcia. So we went ahead and did so. Representative Garcia told us that he would do everything in his power to generate a response from FDOT. (Mr. Gus Pego, FDOT District 6 secretary, received our letter almost a month and a half ago but has not responded). Representative Garcia also suggested that we meet with Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff about this issue. We kindly informed Representative Garcia that the reason we were meeting with him was because Mayor Regaldo and Commissioner Sarnoff asked us to do so.
We have reached out to all the stakeholders on Brickell Avenue and all agree with us that speeding is an issue on Brickell. We cannot get FDOT to respond to any of our emails. Last week, FDOT made this illogical PowerPoint presentation to the Brickell Homeowners Association. They essentially put the blame on the pedestrian for jaywalking. It doesn’t matter that crosswalks are few and far in between. During this presentation they explicitly stated they would not reduce the speed limit, add crosswalks or include sharrows within the scope if this project.
The following organizations support a lower speed limit and a more pedestrian-friendly environment on Brickell Avenue:
Miami Bicycle Action Committee
This damaged light pole has been lying on the corner of Biscayne Blvd and NE 62nd Street for almost two weeks. Part of the pole is actually in the street; there is glass everywhere, and electrical wires are exposed. Pedestrians have a difficult time walking around the pole as it is lying in the middle of the sidewalk. Disabled persons in a wheelchair are screwed; they simply cannot get around the pole safely. There should be a simple workflow within the city; when there is an accident a cleanup should follow. Debris from an accident should not take almost two weeks to cleanup.
FYI: This accident occurred on an FDOT designed road. Biscayne Blvd. should have a design speed of 30mph, not 45+mph. As long as FDOT continues to design roads with the sole purpose of moving cars faster, Florida will continue to hold the #1 spot for most pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the country.
Representative Luis Garcia will host a meet and greet to discuss the FDOT Brickell Avenue resurfacing project this Thursday, October 21 at Lolita’s.
If you live, work, or play on Brickell Avenue it is important that you attend this meeting. This project will have a tremendous impact on your daily lives and on businesses that operate in the area.
Every time the Brickell Avenue drawbridge goes up, traffic lights along Brickell Avenue are programmed to stay red, to prevent cars from piling up along intersections. This occurs for a few block along Brickell Avenue, as one approaches the bridge. This is a reasonable solution to a known problem - drivers tend to pile up at drawbridges while waiting for approx 10-15 minutes.
Nevertheless, in what can only be called sloppy oversight and lack of interest in the pedestrian realm by FDOT, pedestrian crosswalks, blocks away, also stay red and fail to turn green. This means that when the drawbridge is up, crosswalk lights as far away as 3-4 blocks away from the bridge stay red, indicating to pedestrians that they cannot cross Brickell Avenue or go north / south along intersecting streets.
This of course makes no sense and creates a lot of confusion amongst pedestrians. Why should pedestrians be prevented from crossing Brickell Avenue because the bridge is up 4 blocks away? Why are pedestrians prevented from crossing SW 8th St when the bridge is up? This obvious problem has probably been going on for years.
Check out the video below I took a couple weeks ago along SW 8th Street and Brickell Avenue that highlights this problem. The intersection on the video is 4 blocks away from the drawbridge, yet crosswalks stay red to cross Brickell Avenue or to cross SW 8th Street. As a result, we see dangerous conditions for pedestrians.
Why? Who knows… One thing is for sure, this needs to change ASAP.
By the way, as can be seen on the video, drivers are left wondering why the traffic light fails to turn green and therefore run the red light. One word of advice to FDOT, put some kind of indicator at traffic lights to let drivers know that the lights are staying red for a prolonged period of time because the drawbridge is up.
The Transit Miami team has met with various Brickell area stakeholders over the past two weeks. We met with the Brickell Homeowners Association and the Brickell Area Association, the two largest Brickell organizations that represent the residents and businesses in the area. Through our meetings we have determined that there is an overwhelming consensus for a reduced speed limit on Brickell Avenue. All the residents and businesses would like FDOT to enhance the pedestrian experience for everyone that lives, works, and plays on Brickell. (In all fairness, not one person disagreed with us). Everyone we spoke to understands that lowering the speed limit is good for the residents and for the bottom-line of businesses that operate in the area.
According to FDOT’s stated values, they are “Customer Driven-We listen to our customers”. The customers have spoken with one voice and they all want a lower speed limit. Another FDOT stated value: “Integrity-We always to the right thing”.
Will FDOT do the right thing? We sure hope so.
The following organizations also support a lower speed limit:
Bicycle Action Committee
Transit Miami is scheduled to meet with Commissioner Sarnoff in a couple of weeks and we have requested a meeting with Mayor Regalado as well. We trust the City of Miami will support a lower speed limit too.
If you know of any other organizations that would like to join our coalition, please let us know in the comments section.
Thank you to everyone that supports a more pedestrian-friendly Brickell Avenue.
Given the upcoming meetings regarding the latest phase of the SFEC Corridor Study I thought it would be a good time to look back to my review of the project alternatives after last year’s initial presentation. I am curious how things have changed since then. From what I hear, the integrated solution that provides local and commuter service is being tossed for an exclusively commuter service….lets hope that is not the case.
Yesterday FDOT hosted a public meeting displaying their Phase 2 analysis for the FEC Corridor. Promising stuff, although I left with a few questions and concerns. The project team was interested and excited about the prospect of bringing some form of transit down this corridor, describing a higher than average projected ridership and amazing public support, and truly explaining the pros/cons of each alternative ( a welcomed change from other FDOT meetings I have attended where there was very little choice being given to attendees as project reps simply ram the preferred alternative down your throat). Unfortunately, as one project representative said (who wished to remain anonymous) the major problem with getting funding for construction will be the federal government’s hesitance at giving over $1 billion for construction, when local officials will not commit to continue funding the tri-rail service we already have. Can’t say I blame them.
For my money, I was impressed the alternative that offered both local and express service. ‘Urban Mobility’ (Alternative B) would provide both local and express service using a combination of light rail and commuter rail, and would cost about $3.4-4.2 billion (for the full length of the 80 Miles).
Anther alternative I liked was the ‘Integrated Network’ solution (Alternative D) which would provide crucial new east/west connections between the FEC corridor and the airport Tri-Rail station. This alternative, while not as convenient for express service, was also less expensive at $2.9-3.6 billion. The cost difference attributed to building out the second track for express service.
My big concern (echoed by many people I spoke with around the room and after the meeting) is that the service stops at government center, missing the vital connection to the Port. Word on the street is that they have no intention of going to the Port because of engineering issues (which is total bs). Here we have within our reach the holy grail of Miami transit - a direct connection between the sea port and the airport - and FDOT wants to stop at the door . The FEC corridor already runs to the port - there is NO reason not to take it all the way in - not right-of-way issues, not engineering. No reason. Period. It will be a boon to the cruising industry who will be able to tell their customers that they no longer need to factor in a $50 round-trip taxi cab ride to and from the port (more money to spend on board - can anyone say more on-board revenue???)
So FDOT, listen closely. Here are my recommendations:
- Combine alternatives B and D. We need express service and local service along the same alignment (without having to go west).
- Connect to the airport tri-rail station. We want more connections - not less!
- Connect to the sea port! This project cannot should not move forward without making that vital connection. As important as the tunnel is to the seaport, imagine what a passenger connection from the airport will do for our local cruising industry.
- Move swiftly!! These are important moves you are making. Don’t delay!
The expected time line is: PDE preferred alternative chosen in the Spring of 2010, final study in Fall/Winter 2010, apply for federal funding 2011, begin design work/ROW acquisition late 2011/early 2012. Seems ridiculously long, doesn’t it? Sigh…
Just the other day I was crossing Brickell Avenue and SE 8th St on my bike with a green crosswalk light when a large SUV pulled up within inches and honked his horn. I was startled of course, not only is the sight of a massive 4,000 pound hunk of metal a bit intimidating and a loud horn deafening, but I was looking at a green crosswalk light which indicated to me that the street was safe to cross.
I quickly turned around, and pointed at the crosswalk light, but the driver yelling at me through the car probably thought I was pointing at a bird. He thought he was in the right, and I was just in his way.
Unfortunately, this situation plays out over and over and over again, every day, of every week, throughout the entire year in Brickell. An explosion of residents has translated into more pedestrians on unsuitable city streets competing with South Florida drivers who are not accustomed to pedestrians.
While the condo boom saw tremendous pedestrian oriented development in the area, the streets have not changed to accommodate the tremendous influx of city dwellers and pedestrians in the last few years. With over 22,000 new condos and a handful of large new office buildings and hotels, Brickell Avenue is arguably Miami’s hottest urban center. Just the other day, the Miami Herald ran a story titled: “Downtown Miami: The hot urban alternative to South Beach.”
If Brickell really hopes to attract the tourist dollars, it is important that Brickell Avenue get a face lift geared at making safer and more comfortable streets. Brickell Avenue is an important piece of this equation. On more than one occasion, I have seen tourists scrambling across Brickell Avenue - last year one was actually struck by a vehicle and killed. Brickell Avenue is uncomfortable and dangerous - an embarrassing combination for an aspiring “world class” neighborhood.
The truth is Brickell Avenue is ill suited to accommodate the rising numbers of pedestrians and tourists crossing the streets - and things are only going to get worse as the remaining condos are occupied, 1,000,000 sq ft of new office space are opened, and hundreds of new hotel rooms open their doors. Furthermore, when the economy does pick up, Brickell is likely to be one of the first places where construction will restart.
That is why I see the upcoming Brickell Avenue reconstruction by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as a golden opportunity to transform Brickell into a friendly, pedestrian friendly, and safe urban street — as well as a tourist destination. An opportunity to continue the progress made by city officials, developers, and urbanites in the last few years. To transform Brickell into what it should be, a destination, not just a street used by cars to cut through the city.
With this in mind, for my first article as a contributing writer on Transit Miami, I leave you with a short video filmed yesterday at the intersection in front of my house on SE 10th St and Brickell Ave, one intersection south of where I was almost hit by the SUV. I went at around 1:20 pm and stayed for about 15 min.
One can quickly see some of the obvious problems facing Brickell Avenue within this short clip. Cars that do not respect pedestrians, a missing crosswalk, long wait times, no enforcement, and an increasing number of pedestrians competing for time and space against fast moving automobiles.
This video is just one example of the kinds of things that happen every day, up and down Brickell Avenue. You will not see any sensational accident or near collision, rather, you will see a consistent pressure on pedestrians by incoming vehicles, as well as ill suited streets. At the very least, you will see why Brickell Avenue needs highly visible and marked crosswalks on both sides of every intersection, something normal in any walkable urban environment.
As a new addition to the Transit Miami team, over the coming days and weeks, I hope to show why Brickell Avenue in its current form is dangerous to pedestrians, and why its current use is counter intuitive to the long terms goals of the neighborhood, its residents, and area businesses. Together we can hopefully convince FDOT to do the right thing and ensure a more friendly, safe, enjoyable, and successful street suitable for the world renown Brickell neighborhood it represents.
With Brickell changing by the day, let us design a Brickell Avenue that looks into the future, not the past.
The below commentary was sent to us by a Transit Miami reader in response to today’s article in the Miami Herald.
As a transit advocate adding regional rail along the FEC corridor just makes common sense. We need all Transit Miami readers to show their support by attending one of the FDOT meetings this week in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade. Let’s go with one voice that tri-rail should be expanded and run along the eastern FEC line in addition to the current western CSX line. Tri-rail already has the experience, staff, trains, repair personnel, etc and adding additional options for travelers will help everyone. Having one type of train system allows one operator, less total investment, flexibility, and regional rail ties into the state system for high speed rail. Don’t let Orlando and Tampa steal all of the Florida rail money. Approving regional rail will help SE Florida’s bid to receive federal money for high speed rail.”
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold public hearings on the South Florida East Coast Corridor Study at five locations:
• West Palm Beach Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., Tuesday, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m.
• North Miami Beach, McDonald Center, 17051 NE 19th Ave., Wednesday, 6 to 8 p.m.
• Boca Raton Community Center, Royal Palm Room, 150 Crawford Blvd., Thursday, 6 to 8 p.m.
• Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Sept. 21, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m.
• Fort Lauderdale, Holiday Park Social Center, 1150 G. Harold Martin Dr., Sept. 22 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m.
There has been a bit of miscommunication and FDOT will not be present at the Brickell Homeowners Association meeting next week. My sincerest apologies for the misunderstanding.
Regardless, anyone that lives, works, or plays around the Brickell area is welcome to join our lively discussion regarding the upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project that will begin early next year. Please join the Brickell Homeowners Association and Transit Miami on Wednesday September 15 @ 7:00pm at the Metropolitan Condominium located at 2475 Brickell Avenue. We need everyone’s support in order to convince FDOT to do the right thing. We look forward to seeing you there.
We have been talking a lot lately about FDOT’s upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project. One thing that has been noticeably absent is police enforcement of traffic violations on Brickell. I lived on Brickell Avenue for a year and half and have now been working there for the past two and a half years. Not once have a seen anyone pulled over for speeding or for not yielding to a pedestrian. Personally, I would like to see more police enforcement here.
I believe FDOT needs to design a roadway that discourages speeding, but there are too many other blatant moving violations that can only be addressed by police enforcement.
Please join the Brickell Homeowners Association as they host FDOT District 6 on Wednesday September 15 @ 7:00pm at the Metropolitan Condominium located at 2475 Brickell Avenue. It would be a good idea to encourage as many people as possible to attend this meeting. If you live, work, play or visit the Brickell area this meeting is a must.
FDOT will begin a major resurfacing project in a few months on Brickell Avenue. Unfortunately, FDOT does not believe that lowering the speed limit or changing the design speed of Brickell Avenue to discourage speeding is a good idea. They also don’t believe that adding crosswalks or cultivating a more pedestrian-friendly environment would be better for one of the most densely populated areas in all of Florida. Quite the contrary, they believe that all is fine and dandy on Brickell Avenue and that speeding is not a problem. They do not share our belief that our roads are for people, bicycles and cars and they are meant to be shared safely.
Transit Miami sources have informed us that FDOT would not consider changing the speed limit if they found that 85 percent of all cars are currently traveling at or below the already much too high 35/40mph speed limit. The dynamic of Brickell has changed substantially over the last 5 years and therefore FDOT should consider this as well. You can find a list of some of our recommendations for improvements here. You can also find a list of some very excellent suggestions from new Transit Miami contributor Adam Mizrahi at What Miami. (Please welcome Adam!)
If you can’t make it, please send an email to Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary and let him know we deserve a better Brickell Avenue.
Just an FYI: The following organizations all support a lower speed limit and a more pedestrian-friendly environment on Brickell Avenue:
Miami Bicycle Action Committee
This advertising board on Brickell and 15th Street was replaced again this week. This is at least the fourth time in two years that it has been destroyed by a speeding vehicle and then replaced. Four accidents in two years doesn’t seem to be enough to convince FDOT to address the design speed of this curve, or for the responsible party to change the location of this advertising board/bench to a safer site . Since we have to laugh so that we don’t cry about what is in fact a very dangerous situation, we are taking wages as to when the next accident will occur here. Transit Miami consulted a Las Vegas oddsmaker and the current over/under for the next accident is 6 months. Below are the odds. Please place your bets in the comments section.
1 month: 6:1
2 months: 5:1
3 months: 4:1
4 months: 3:1
5 months: 2:1
6 months: Even
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