Monday, March 21, 2011

Miami Dade County Insanity, on the 18 Mile Stretch to the Florida Keys ... by gimleteye

The Florida Keys and Miami-Dade County are linked by one of the most controversial stretches of highways in the United States; the strip of US 1 called the 18 Mile Stretch. Why controversial? Because for decades the mainly two lane US 1 acted as a bottleneck for growth and for hurricane evacuation; a point of conflict within state land use planning and emergency management that kept the construction and development lobby at a high boil during an era of intense real estate pressure on fragile natural resources in the Keys. The battle whether or not to widen the 18 Mile Stretch finally concluded in 2009; the environmentalists lost and were sued to pay court costs of the government.

The widening of the stretch is nearly finished but the indignities are not. Now there is THE FENCE. The cyclone fence. The fence is an abomination. First of all, the fact of the fence, at all. One of the glories of driving down to the Keys was to be able to see free and clear to the public lands to the east and west; this is the only stretch of the Everglades that is visible anywhere along US 1 that once ran the length of the eastern Everglades in its entirety.

The land is barely above sea level, so the question that arises first of all why a cyclone fence at all? The answer, one suspects, is that some lobbyist in Tallahassee representing "The Cyclone Fence Cartel" inserted FDOT contract language requiring a cyclone fence to "protect the public". That is the first level of indignity, where no fence had been needed or wanted, before. Here is the second level: on the section of fence on US 1 in Monroe County's portion of the 18 Mile Stretch, the cyclone fence looks about six feet high. I'll say it twice so you keep this in your memory. On the Keys side of the 18 Mile Stretch the fence is about 6 feet high. It is stupid and unnecesary, but generally speaking "stupid" goes right well with decision makers in the Florida Keys. Here is a photo of what the Monroe County side of the fence looks like.



But stupid doesn't begin to describe the Miami-Dade section of the fence, twelve feet high AND TOPPED WITH BARBED WIRE. WTF? Why six feet in the Keys but twelve feet in Miami Dade plus barbed wire? Is this because fence vendors in Miami Dade are better organized than in the Keys? Because business in platted subdivisions sucks, they found a way to sell more fence by building a twelve foot fence and added a frosting of barbed wire to top it off?

It is an incredulous feeling, first distracted by the puke aquamarine concrete barrier that looks the color of a Miami Subs sign, then driving along the stretch that makes you feel like you are being funneled into an adult correctional facility. That's "progress", by Jove. Here's a photo to prove it:



Wasn't there someone, anyone, anywhere in government aware of the insult to intelligence they were authorizing, with the fence topped with barbed wire? Apparently, if there was, no one had the guts to stop it. That's pretty much the case in the dismantling of government everywhere these days: no one has the guts to stop the Republican nuts. Isn't this David Rivera's Congressional district? Or Ileana Ros Lehtinen? Doesn't one of them have the guts to tell them to tear down the freaking fence? For a hundred years we didn't need a fence on the 18 Mile Stretch and now we do? Because there is some danger lurking that the fence will stop? Maybe Democrats and trial lawyers. Or perhaps it is the teachers' fault. Anyhow if I am a visitor to the Florida Keys I'm thinking: what the hell is going on here?

I bet the fence is a business deal, a quid pro quo with a campaign contributor/fence mfg, and the barbed wire represents the expression of latent hatred of Miami Dade County politicians for the Everglades. Like Pepe Diaz, the county commissioner who owns part of a trailer park/future gambling destination bordering Everglades National Park wetlands in Key Largo. They hate government agencies who protect the Everglades and water quality and so they need the barbed wire to remind all the drivers on US 1. I expect they believe drivers need to be protected from alligators crawling up the cyclone fence. I suspect they believe all the do-good'ers who stopped the widening of the 18 Mile Stretch need to be fenced out from putting IED's in the roadway. I suspect the latent hatred springs from the not-so-latent desire to pave over every last scrap of land in South Florida whenever it becomes profitable.

But why, six feet tall in Monroe and twelve feet tall with barbed wire in Miami-Dade? The answer for that? Idiocy, pure and simple. Tear down the fence!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not positive, but I think the primary purpose of the fence is to prevent wildlife (crocs, panthers, otters, racoons and such) from crossing the roadway and becoming roadkill. There are wildlife crossings beneath the road at intervals, and the fence is supposed to funnel the critters to and through them. The height difference and barbed wire may be explained by the fact that there is more marshland on the Dade side, which attracts ATVers. ATVs have trashed large areas of the South Dade Wetlands, so the taller fence and barbed wire helps to keep them out - I guess.

Anonymous said...

Write to your District 8 Commish and voice your opinion!

Miss Lynda's all ears (and no action)!

Gimleteye said...

I am unaware of any ATV use in these wetlands through access from US 1. Where do you put the trailer, without being discovered? As far as wildlife is concerned: I haven't seen any otters scaling 12 foot fences lately. Or crocs. Or deer. Certainly not panthers: didn't Miami Dade County in permitting Atlantic Civil's Florida City Commons project successfully argue that there are no panther using this area? As for the rest of the wildlife, is wildlife behavior different, between Monroe and Miami Dade to warrant barbed wire topped fencing in Miami-Dade and none in Monroe, twelve foot high fence in Miami-Dade but six foot fence in Monroe? Why not put gaps in the median for wildlife to find its way through? Or more underpasses if that is the problem. And how many crocs, btw, are crossing US 1 on the 18 Mile Stretch? In 30 years I've never seen one.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if you've seen it or not. These (roadkill of T&E Species and ATV use/attractive nuisance)were two of the key arguments that DERM and private environmental groups used in trying to get the project killed, and so they had to be accounted for somehow. The most likely reason for the differences in the fencing has to do with differences in the County Codes. Miami-Dade requires use of the South Florida Building code while I have no idea what code (if any) Monroe uses.

Gimleteye said...

For perverted, twisted logic: that wins the prize. So now we have a design to accomodate enviromentalists who opposed the widening; making the 18 Mile Stretch look like the entrance to a prison protecting wildlife from drivers, or, drivers from wildlife? And btw, WHAT wildlife? The scarcity of birds in the Keys and the Everglades is shocking. It is an ecosystem in collapse, and so the response of FDOT is to shield us through a barbed wire passage? It's the environmentalists, fault?

Anonymous said...

It's the architectural style unique to South Dade County known as Barbed Wire Vernacular.

oliver said...

ugly fences make good neighbors where the wild things are.

Geniusofdespair said...

Don't insult the blogger- one rule on this blog.

miaexile said...

I go down to the Keys at least twice a month and have often wondered if I was the only one who thought the fence was ridiculous - glad to know I'm not alone. It's a travesty - the only thing they didn't do was electrify it..wonder what it all cost and what the "their" reason truly was, on paper, somewhere, no doubt. Pull the fence down!

Anonymous said...

Its even siller than the Anon above posts. I never stopped there, but many families used to take advantage of the shoreline along the 18 mile stretch, near Lake Surpise and the bend just south of the marina.

This is just another example of the public right of access to the bay being taken away. I never heard of an accident or incident to rationalize this newest example of fencing off natural access.

Florida is rapidly becoming the "pay to play" state.

Why can't the State and its sub-entities ever allow people to enjoy our natural areas? Governments seem to be too quick to either fence it off, sell it to private use or simply render it unuseable through spoilage.

Anonymous said...

Some roads have fences to protect wildlife. People in Miami like to pull of the side of the road to fish, pee, litter, and cook roasted pig.
The true animals are the Miami Dade residents.

Gimleteye said...

If the planners really cared about wildlife, they would never have allowed Florida City Commons on the drawing board. But the Corps and USFWS said, no problem with panthers only a few miles away. So why, the 12 foot fence with barbed wire? If the planners really cared about wildlife, they would have created a different design for the concrete barrier to allow crocs and whatever else to cross. The result is horrible and for visitors to the Keys, coming by car, you couldn't imagine a less inviting introduction. What they came up with, is a perfect reflection of Miami Dade County.

youbetcha' said...

There are several prisons on the west side of the highway, along there, including high security

Anonymous said...

Really Anon, the real animals are the Miami-Dade residents? Are you sure or is it only the ones migrating from Cuba?

What's wrong with fishing and cooking a cooking any type of pig on the side of the road (I assume they cook all kinds of pigs, not just 'roasted' pigs). Even peeing. Heck, under your friend Bell, we will allow the corporations to 'pee' their litter and corporate waste onto our lands and into our drinking water once we excise the Dermites from 'regulating the jobs outs of Miami-Dade county.' Both Gen Patton and Prime Minister Churchell pee'd into the Rhine river. That was not what hurt the Germans.

My point is that someone from a less favored ethinic group having reasonable enjoyment of a beautiful area is not offensive. The real offense is fencing off our natural areas to the benefit of the highest bidder and allowing obvious exploitation and spoliation of our natural areas by corporate thugs.

Gimleteye said...

Prisons? When was the last escape that would have benefited the public from a 12 foot high fence with barbed wire? Here is what happened, is my best guess. The Corps and State beat down the environmental groups so hard, that by the time it was over and there was planning, no enviro had the appetite to sit down in the truant's corner while the planning agencies decided with "community input" how to deal with the divider and the fence. Somehow that 12 foot fence with barbed wire got in there, after everyone was exhausted. And if you don't think there was a fence manufacturer cheering from the sidelines with a bucket of campaign money going somewhere, think again!

Anonymous said...

Triana Fence, maybe?

Friends of Bell, no doubt.

youbetcha' said...

I was referring to the higher fence with barbed wire... if they have an escape at the prison (and they did a few years back) they can block off the access road and know if the mosquitoes and gators don't get the bad guys, the fence will slow them down... that is why the angle of the top barbs goes inward... to keep the people over there with less man power.

Although, a gator running on his hind legs can be pretty tall, so maybe they will be slowed down too.

Anonymous said...

Gimleteye, you misunderstood my post from this morning. I was not trying to "blame" environmentalists for the fence. I happen to be an environmentalist and a DERM employee. What I was trying to convey to your readers was the observations I have made over many years of public service over how business on projects like this get done. In the past (the 70's and 80's) when Earth Day was more than just a feel good event, but a message for change, concerns for the environment, impacts to wildlife, etc. could stop a project like this, or at least delay it for a really, really long time until a less harmful alternative came along (although, I must say, as part of this project, the proposed wildlife corridors and increase in flushing from culverts appeared, on the surface, to be an improvement over the original road design). However, in more recent years, the engineers and consultants who are charged with designing and permitting these projects have gotten smarter with "negotiating" those concerns away. I see it all the time. A bad project gets through because of "conditions" of approval that are meant to offset such concerns. Hence DERM and environmental group's comments/concerns relating to T&E roadkill and possible increased ATV usage from the new roadway were offset by the promise of an access limiting feature (i.e. fencing), even if there was no data to support it.

Anonymous said...

Somebody told me Wyland was paid $25,000 just to select this offensive color, tell me it isn't so!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me whether there is an organized effort to get this abomination torn down?

Anonymous said...

Know this is an overdue comment but check out ALL OF THE suspect fencing since 2008 along main Hwys and interstates in the US ussa

Anonymous said...

Are you really this obtuse? Highways and other areas all over the country are being fenced, walled etc. It's for the coming martial law,check points and implementation of agenda 21, nwo and round ups. You need to seriously wake up, quit thinking small little local their trying to keep us from peeing mentality. They're getting ready to take your freedom away, what tiny bit you still have. Go educate yourself. Google and YouTube agenda 21, that will lead you to the real truth step by step.