Currently viewing the tag: "Traffic"

Ryan is back with some firsthand experience on the vehicular addiction we’re trying to break here in Miami. Although I haven’t witnessed a friend go to such great lengths to drive a car, I can attest that his roommate’s mentality appears to be the norm around here.

My roommate has got a new job in Coral Gables. He lives in Coconut Grove. No problem, right? Wrong. My roommate is addicted to cars/driving, which is unfortunate for him because his old SUV crapped the bed recently. In typical Miami form, he’s now found a way to take an asset (close proximity to job) and turn it into a significant liability because of his car addiction.

For some background information, most of his active pursuits are located in his own neighborhood, the Grove. Whether eating, working out, or partying, he does most of it right here a few blocks away. Most of his friends live in the Grove or Downtown, an easy bus or train ride away. However, instead of buying a student Metropass for a meager $37.50, walking 2/10th of a mile to the nearest #42 bus stop, which then will take him directly to downtown Coral Gables for work in less than 20 minutes, he’s living a complicated, stressed out life completely dictated by someone else’s car. Below is an unbelievable description of his daily schedule:

  • Wake up at 8:00 am
  • Drive downtown against rush hour traffic using friend’s borrowed car to pick up his friend
  • Drive his friend from downtown all the way across the county to FIU for his work
  • Drive back home to the Grove against morning rush hour for the second time to “relax” and kill time before work at noon
  • Leave for work @ 11:30 driving friend’s car en route to downtown Coral Gables
  • Departs downtown Coral Gables @ 5:00 pm en route to FIU to pick up friend, battling fierce westbound rush hour traffic in Miami-Dade’s heavily congested central corridor (Flagler, 8th St, Coral Way westbound)
  • Around approximately 6:00 pm (after 45-60 minute drive), he leaves FIU to return downtown with friend to chill/drop off
  • Gets back home around 7:00 or 8:00 pm with friend’s car
  • 8:00 am, at it again

So as you can see, not only is the schedule itself crazy, stressful, and completely unreasonable, but my roommate now feels obliged to return such “favors”, often resulting in him joining his friend for activities that he may have preferred to abstain from in favor of extra “free time” for rest or study. Instead of waking up at 10:30 am for work at noon, he’s up at 8:00 am, facing a stressful series of commutes which he must successfully negotiate or else his kind friend who shares his car will be late for work. If he works four days a week, that’s 10 hours of sleep per week he’s losing to his car addiction. Moreover, while he struggles to pay his collegiate finances and loans, he continues saving most of his money for a new car while at $37.50 a month (for a Metropass) I’m paying off student loans early and getting a whole lot of extra sleep. It’s really sad, and if you think about it dependency on cars can parallel other addictions like smoking.

After I first told him how ridiculous his itinerary was and briefly gave him the low-down about the transit alternative, he agreed, looked me right in the eye and shrugged, “But the problem is I like driving”.

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Rick of SOTP fame led me to this informative page on the concept of “slugging.” Slugging is basically carpooling, enjoying the benefits of using the HOV lanes, with one minor exception: your passengers are complete strangers. The site claims that slugging began over 30 years ago, during the oil embargo of the 1970’s. It’s amazing how quickly we turn to easy alternatives once economics come into play. In any case, slugging puts HOV lanes into good use, requiring that vehicles traveling in the lanes have a minimum of 3 occupants, the DC area laws were written and enforced to move the greatest amount of people. Slug-Lines provides a wealth of information on slugging, including; pick-up/drop-off locations, etiquette (amazing list of rules can be found here), slug groups, and a message board. Once again, it is evident that Miami is way behind the times. Lately, I’ve heard too many complaints about HOV and how inefficient the “wasted lane” is or better yet: “solutions” on how to turn our HOV lanes in to pay as you go lanes. The HOV can be one of our best tools to combat the gridlock on our major highways daily because it is not only easy to implement but will actually reduce vehicles (and our unnatural dependency on them.) You can scream and shout about riding with strangers, the cost of building a rail system, or the ridiculous traffic, but, you can’t knock a concept that won’t cost taxpayers a cent unless you’ve actually tried it…

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What a way to waste $2 Billion. Widening Krome? Don’t be fooled, our basic transit infrastructure fell apart long ago. FDOT simply doesn’t understand the social ramifications of doing this. They claim the widening is necessary to create a safer facility for motorists; however, it will only open a floodgate to more pointless housing developments. When I spoke to some FDOT officials recently, they informed me that the money is designated for improvement on Miami-Dade roads only, if the project isn’t completed within a designated time frame, the money is simply funneled to another county in the state for a similar project. I was initially inquiring to find out the possibility of using the money for something that would benefit a wider range of people within the county, say Public Transit? No, that would be intelligent…

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  • Today at 9 am, Miami-Dade Transit will be determining just how large a proposed Transit Oriented Development may be at the Coconut Grove Metrorail station. Grove Nimby’s have promised to be out in force fool heartedly opposing any significant density in from the proposed project. A decrease in density would be a severe detriment to all Miami-Dade residents not just the people who would benefit from the transit development. The site needs to be built to maximize its potential and provide the greatest benefit to the greatest amount of people within in the county rather than the special needs of a vocal minority group. The local community cites traffic issues as their main concern along the intersection; however, they fail to realize that any development which occurs on the site will likely adversely impact traffic. The development would not only be able to maximize the use of our only urban transit system, but would begin to add some much needed density along two major corridors; US-1 and 27th Ave.
  • Kendall residents are at a virtual standstill in traffic deciding what transit options to pursue for their neighborhood. As development continues westward (like the bright idea of building homes west of Tamiami Airport) area traffic will only continue to get worse. Fearing that trains will only “exacerbate” the commutes of many drivers, the CSX rail corridor isn’t seen as a great alternative by many (who likely live along the corridor and fear a decrease in their home’s value.) Here’s a bright idea: Ride the train along the CSX corridor and you too won’t be exacerbated. Residents are also pulling for a proposed rail link down Kendall drive; however, they insist that the train must not remove any lanes of traffic. So, going by the mentality of the majority of Miami residents, they too would like transit in their areas so that other people may use it, while freeing up space for their own vehicular commutes. Good Luck. A train down Kendall drive would be disastrous unless we quickly change the way we develop the major thoroughfare. An elevated train down the median would prove to be a gigantic failure, leaving would-be passengers with at least three hectic lanes of traffic to cross before traversing the parking lots of an assortment of strip shopping centers.
  • Traffic cameras are coming to a city residential community near you. That’s right; the commuter village of Pembroke Pines in Broward is going forward with plans to install a network of intersection cameras to catch red light runners. Need I remind them though, that entering an intersection on a yellow light is legal in the state of Florida and that the driver may complete his maneuver even if the light has turned red so long as it did so after the vehicle completely passed the white markings of the intersection. As long as they cite people for the right thing and don’t abuse the camera policy, I’m all for the eyes in the sky.
  • Miami-Dade Commissioners unanimously approved the final step in the Island Gardens debacle. Flagstone development has now been given the green light by the county to begin dredging along Watson island to support the city’s first mega yacht marina.
  • Keep an eye on Transit Miami for all the latest news on Transit/Development issues in the Greater Miami area. I will be changing up the site soon as I switch to a better blogging software. As always, If you have any stories, news, or information you would like to share, please e-mail TransitMiami at…

Today, we switch gears (pun, you decide) over to I-95. The above photograph was found on a forum which I frequent and was originally posted/hosted by FTLBeachBum. The image was taken sometime in the 60’s, evidenced by the construction of the disastrous I-95 project occurring at the top of the frame. As you all may already know, I-95 was constructed haphazardly in the mid 1960’s as the first main North-South arterial. It was built to relieve congestion on Biscayne Boulevard and the few other streets which offered N-S routes. In its construction, I-95 destroyed the overtown community, displacing thousands of African-American residents and physically dividing a community. The effects of the highway on the planning in our city are still being felt today. Many things have changed since this picture was taken; the Library for example is no longer found in Bayfront Park, Surface Parking lots no longer comprise such a great proportion of our downtown land use, and apartments no longer sit above the neglected Miami Circle along the South Bank of the River…

The upcoming posts will focus on the latest proposals to enhance the traffic flow along the behemoth as well as the alternatives we can use to avoid the very congested highway…

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I just came across an old article in the Miami New Times, which discusses one of my most despised developments in Miami; the Ryder Systems Headquarters off of the turnpike expressway, on the edge of the everglades and civilization. I despise this project not only because of its location but because of what it is home to. The fact that one of the largest companies in the area and the nation would choose this site as its corporate headquarters is sickening. Its shows how little Ryder systems is concerned about Miami and how fickle its intentions to contribute positively to the urban fabric of our city really are.

It appears, much to my suspicions, that some sort of fishy land deal occurred, which allowed Ryder to sell their Doral digs and move west. The involved parties include no other than our own racial slurring state representative Ralphy Arza, as well as Shoma Homes Employees. The original plan was to develop the Ryder 45 acre parcel into, well, what would you know; a “Town Center” styled development. On top of being a complete load of BS, the development was slated to be “pedestrian friendly.” I guess these guys planned on attracting many of the pedestrians which walk from parking lot to parking lot in Doral.

Even more sickening is the way Masoud Shojaee, president of Shoma Development Corp., was able to pay off Ralph Arza $20,000 up front and an additional $30,000 once the zoning change was complete. So, now not only is Arza a racial slurring, voice mail leaving dirty politician, but, apparently his services can be purchased to influence the way our city is redeveloped. I propose we overturn the zoning changes and tear down the buildings which continue to push the development boundary westwards…

Bye, Bye, Ralph…

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Somehow, I told you so, just doesn’t quite cut it. Here is a comment I posted a few hours ago, in response to a anti-growth Coconut Grove comment made earlier:

Transit won’t solve these issues on its own; it must be coupled with intelligent growth, which definitely isn’t being supplied adequately by the Grove Activists or Developers…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way shape or form excited that the Home Depot is moving forward with its plans in Coconut Grove. It just goes to show how we end up with terrible planning in this city when the two extremes never settle upon a happy medium. Grove Activists fought the Home Depot for 2 years, while the popular home store bent over backwards in making its store fit in with the “village vision” of the Grove Residents. The store, designed by Local architect and Grove Resident (I believe) Max Strang, will probably never come to fruition, with its designated truck delivery zones, multi-level parking and stores, new Milam’s Market and Pharmacy, and Bahamian influenced design. In the end, we still get nothing but a terrible catastrophic strip shopping center in the heart of a vibrant community. All because one side never decided that in order to settle, they would have to make some concessions. Now, instead, we all pay the price of so truly terrible traffic, parking, and just deplorable planning…The Grove says no? Try again…

The Grove First website…

More info on what was GroveGate, click here…

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I’ve shared my discontent on the people’s transportation plan (PTP) on more than one occasion on this site. I’ve also spoken of the nimby-like behavior of the grove residents who oppose any project which crosses their path but at the same time complain about a dearth of parking in their area. Today, I’ve decided to combine the two issues somewhat and present a set of alternative plans that I believe would benefit our community and would satisfy the delicate aesthetic needs of coconut grove residents. Below are three quick renderings I created (please pardon the terrible quality) of the region with possible public transit routes superimposed.

  1. This plan is the simplest, least intrusive, and cheapest alternative. The plan calls for the dismantling of the Omni loop of the people mover system in downtown once the Miami Streetcar becomes operational. I’m figuring that the omni loop will be rendered useless once the streetcar is completed seeing that they essentially cover the same part of the city. The salvageable tracks, vehicles, and station components can then be used to create a new Coconut Grove Loop People Mover system. The CG loop would be approximately 1.65 miles long, just slightly longer than the current 1.45 mile Omni Loop. The loop would be able to transport people quickly and effectively from the Coconut Grove Metrorail station along US-1 to the more pedestrian friendly areas of the grove, office buildings along South Bayshore Dr., City Hall, and the vast network of bay front parks. This option would be good for bringing people into the Grove from other parts of the county, but would not prove as useful for the majority of Grove residents. The plan also concentrates the public transit on the densest part of the grove and along the bustling 27th Ave. corridor.
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, City Hall at Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair

  1. This plan focuses more on a public transit system which would service the Coconut Grove community as the southern terminus for a North-South 27th Ave. Streetcar or LRT. The proposed system would be far more useful than the 9 mile northern extension which is currently planned and underway for Metrorail because it invites better urban growth to occur at the street level along the avenue. The Northern terminus for this transit line would be at Joe Robbie Stadium (Dolphin Stadium) and would travel through Opa Locka, West Little River, Brownsville, Little Havana, and Coconut Grove neighborhoods. It would provide two links to the Metrorail (CG and Brownsville.) This plan would allow for greater development to occur along the 27th Avenue corridor bringing some much needed density to the area. The much debated and contested Carlos Rua project at the Coconut Grove Metrorail station would be one such example of the type of development we would want to encourage (with less parking.) Transit Oriented Developments such as the Rua project are essential to make our transportation networks succeed. Situated along the primary N-S route in the city (US-1), a major avenue (27th Ave.), and our only form of public transportation, this project is hardly out of context with its surroundings and what we can expect of the region in years to come (Perhaps the height is excessive, but the density is of critical importance.)
Key Stops: Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, Dinner Key, Dolphin Stadium, MDC Inter-American Campus, Opa Locka, Coral Way Corridor

  1. The last plan focuses on implementing a streetcar or LRT which would travel through Coconut Grove from the Brickell Metrorail station. This plan focuses its attention on the needs of the Coconut Grove area, bringing pedestrian traffic and growth to the areas which can support it best. It would also best serve the needs of the area residents in getting to their local town center which is already facing major parking issues. Traveling through South Bayshore Drive, the streetcar would service areas we designate as pedestrian friendly. It services the dense housing units in the area, waterfront offices, shopping areas, Hospital, and parks. A project like this would greatly benefit from further dense (not necessarily tall) growth to occur along the corridor (perhaps the Related Group’s Mercy project wouldn’t seem like such a far fetched idea.) The streetcar would service both east and west grove and create a center for the community (at Mayfair) which is easily accessible to most via the public transportation. Heading westward, the line could travel through the Village of Merrick Park before terminating at the Douglas Road Metrorail station.

Key Stops: Mercy Hospital, Dinner Key, Shops at Mayfair, West Grove, Brickell Metrorail Station, Southern Brickell, Village at Merrick Park, Douglas Road Metrorail Station

I created this above analysis to show that there are a multitude of public transportation concepts which could be implemented in the Coconut Grove area which would not only serve the needs of the area residents but would benefit the entire community. Grove residents should open their minds to development which will enhance their community (I’m not saying to fully accept the Related Group, Home Depot, or Carlos Rua projects) but they need to take a different approach when considering the type of development that will occur in their area. Bringing density to their town center and major thoroughfares like 27th Ave, Grand Ave, and South Bayshore Dr. will keep the charm of the grove intact while also providing a support nucleus which will keep places like Mayfair up and running. This will help reduce the demand for area parking once we recreate a community which is even more navigable for pedestrians rather than vehicles.

As for the PTP, I can only say that we are headed in the wrong direction. Metrorail is an antiquated and extremely costly form of public transportation. We need to embrace a cheaper form of public transit in order to be able to compete with the handful of other US cities which are also vying for federal funding. At the same time, we need to create a system which will satisfy the needs of as many citizens as possible and provide the greatest amount of uses for the community and area re-development.

And then there were none. Major local TV news stations located in the heart of our city, that is. ABC, the sole survivor of the mass exodus of media business from Miami (Proper) announced last week that they too were headed to suburbia. Not just any suburbia, Browardlandia to be precise, making it one less news station that I can actually watch (hey, you turn your back on me; I’ll return the favor.) In the quest for more studio space and more parking (for Dwight or Laurie?), WPLG has given up on their urban location just south of the Media and Arts district design district in Miami. ABC is following the relatively recent moves of NBC/Telemundo into expansive and utterly hideous suburban television studios in western Broward (surrounded by gorgeous, treeless parking lots in every direction) and of CBS in 1985 to the Doral area. NBC however, went so far as to leave us with a faux studio in the American Airlines Arena, to quell our sentiments that the station had completely turned its back on Miami and the concept of urban growth.

The impact of the misguided moves of these news stations abound. It continues to personify the decentralization which has been plaguing Miami since the early 80s and the very reason why we need to seriously rethink the way we are building our transit system and our city. The move of the news stations from the main business center is alarming as much as it is disappointing. For the time being, I’ll keep getting my news from the centrally located Miami Herald, that is, unless they too plan a move to suburbia if/when their land rezoning ever occurs…

Legitimate Reasoning:

“It also gives the station the opportunity to build studios that are equipped with both high definition technology and the latest in hurricane-proofing, Boylan said.”

Illegitimate Reasoning:

“The move will give the ABC affiliate badly needed parking space and a more central location to cover both Miami-Dade and Broward counties.”

“We also wanted to be more central for news coverage.”

And farther from the location of many of the business, sports, and criminal/justice news stories that we will be covering nightly…Now, we’ll have to drive (using the cars in that new huge parking lot) south daily to cover the stories that people actually care about…

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