Last Thursday night at 6:30PM, it took me an hour from Coral Gables into downtown Miami. Brickell / South Miami Avenue is a disaster zone. This week's rain didn't help. New construction will add thousands of cars and trucks to roadways that can't possibly meet existing demand.
In two weeks, visitors will arrive after a year's absence to Art Basel -- the kind LVMH and Craig Robins are counting on to boost the average visitor daily contribution to the local economy. Many won't even be able to get out of their cars to spend foreign dollars in the way that keeps the Miami economy afloat.
The traffic irritation factor is so high that last year I went to the venues as early in the morning as possible. And now, with closures on Alton Road and Collins, world travelers to Art Basel will return to their homes telling how traffic in Miami is like Bangkok.
If traffic turns out to cook Art Basel's golden goose, no one can say that blogs like Eye On Miami didn't see it happening.
While I'm on the traffic complaint cycle (a place we've returned again and again in the past seven years), I went to Cocowalk the other night for the first time in six months.
Cocowalk -- the mall in the Grove -- has been more or less on my route since it was first constructed twenty years ago. Then, it spelled the end of the Grove character that made the place famous. The neighborhood hung onto the Taurus watering hole until that, too, disappeared in waves of euphoria during the last building boom.
Despite new owners, new marketing spiels, Cocowalk remains the well-lit emblem of what is wrong with land use planning in South Florida: take a gem (the old Coconut Grove) and mash it with development that is out of scale and out of character to place and to people.
The best thing for Cocowalk, for Coconut Grove and for Miami would be demolition. Why is it that every scheme to build over what was badly planned in Miami in the first place, just puts something worse in its place? Here is the answer to that question: citizens with a civic interest in sensible planning and growth -- and no personal profit motive -- get a seat at the table, but their seat only has three legs.