Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Political Event of the Year in Miami-Dade: Expansion of SR 836 … by gimleteye

The blog TransitMiami highlights what is at stake in the September 4th rollout by MDX of the expansion plan for the most congested roadway in South Florida: SR 836. "Will Miamians allow MDX to realize its Southwest Highway Dream"? The timing is noteworthy, coming a week after the election for county commissioner in the affected South Dade district.

Eye On Miami has been following the 836 expansion project for many years. In our search bar, just type in "MDX" or "sprawl".

Years ago we concluded -- with no special skill set other than observation at land ownership patterns -- that highways are political events first and foremost. If you want to know the politics of sprawl, just follow the money train to the county commissioners who approve it.

On August 26, a few days from now, the most important election affecting taxpayers in Miami-Dade is the District 8 county commission seat.

Incumbent Lynda Bell is supported by every major developer, contractor, and material supplier with an interest in the 836 highway extension. What the politicians say is that the expansion will relieve traffic congestion. What we say, is that the expansion will liberate millions of dollars of speculative land investments by politically connected developers made during the housing boom -- money that has been dead in the water since the crash.

For the same reason Bell's supporters were enthusiastically behind the Marlins Stadium deal, they are even more directly impacted by the 836 extension. Their strategy: re-elect Bell then immediately roll out the 836 extension so it can become a focal point for the governor's race.

That's why, a week after the District 8 election MDX is hosting a rollout for the highway extension.

Why is the timing important? We already know that Gov. Rick Scott will approve anything so long as he's re-elected. His supporters from the Growth Machine will be anxious to call in their IOU's, ASAP. TransitMiami's concern that this "public rollout" is a pro-forma routine is well-founded.

The 836 issue is a harder one for Crist who, when he was governor, keenly felt the pressure from the same interests. He is the candidate boxed in by the 836 rollout in early September.

Now if Daniella Levine Cava wins on Tuesday and defeats the Lynda Bell / Sprawl / Growth Machine, things could get interesting. That would be a very big hiccup for the nomenklatura.

Click "read more" if you don't know what nomenklatura means.

From our blog, March 2013:
"This is what is unfolding in the corner of Miami-Dade at the western boundary with a plan to extend the SR 836  into farmland purchased at the top of the real estate bubble primarily by top GOP campaign contributors allied with US Century Bank (on US Century, check our archive). It is a tried and true formula for wealth generation: use profits from real estate development to secure political patronage, then use political patronage to stack permitting authorities and local boards to speed the way for new taxpayer investments that will double, triple, quadruple the price of real estate, and -- if you are very very connected -- arrange for highway exits and entrances to be put right where you want them. Last February, we wrote, "Ajamil Bermello: members of the Growth Machine nomenklatura": 

"Nomenklatura: a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in all sphere's of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, engineering and infrastructure development. In Miami-Dade (and Florida) there is a parallel nomenklatura. Some key members of our own domestic nomenklatura are on parade through the effort to extend the Dolphin Expressway south on the western edge of the county, directly threatening Everglades National Park and benefiting land speculators who purchased property in anticipation of the growth of suburban sprawl: they are also key members of the nomenklatura and include Rodney Barreto, Ramon Rasco, Ed Easton and Sergio Pino."

Back in Sept. 2013, I wrote:
"It’s hard to fight off the speculators, when so little was done to hold any accountable after the housing crash. You see, the small homeowner gets foreclosed with a computer algorithm in a heartbeat. The big developers and their big loans with banks get white glove treatment in comparison. The banks are desperate to “monetize” their stale mortgage inventory. They don't foreclose (think, Jorge Perez) because they don't want their own careers marred by signing off on millions if not hundred of millions of losses. Depending on how much cash they have burned through in the recent past, the builders and developers may just want to get out at the highest price today, before sea levels rise and wash it all away. PT Barnum would have been right at home in 2013. Anyhow, one Miami Dade activist writes, “You may have the money – you may have the patience – but we can be patient too. And we will bring out all of our green shirts to fight you on this. You are out of line thinking that this will be a cake walk.” Think back to all the tax dollars you spend to support patterns of growth that clearly we cannot afford. Why should you care? As the wise woman once said, if you don’t do politics, politics does you."


Anonymous said...

Why on earth would you be against widening the highway? Do you love traffic jams that much?

Anonymous said...

Widening highways is like saying you're no longer fat because you loosened your belt.

Marc Rosado said...

Use the billions on expanding mass transit options instead expanding highways. Take cars off the roads.

B said...

Rich people want poor people to ride mass transit so they can have the roads to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on B's comment. Funny how these types always hype "infrastructure" investment but don't like anything that people may actually use. No, they want to build stuff and then force us to use it. I tried to ride the bus and rail to work and it was costing me more than driving. I did the math and basically, unless gas tips at a shade over $5.00 a gallon it doesn't make any sense. People live out west. 836 is a nightmare. I get to work a good 45 minutes early just to avoid the mayhem. Going home? Forget it. I would love to live downtown but I can't afford that either. I hate this elitist crap.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read the article? This is not about widening existing highways. This is about creating a brand new highway out west on the fringe of the UDB.

Anonymous said...

This sounds to me like you are beating a dead horse over and over again. Are you? instead of blogging about the some boring things. Why don't you tackle the situation of moving of people I never see anyone ask for every mile of expansion, why are you not building more pedestrian and cycling paths to meet the green motion of travel?

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to bet Gimleteye lives east of I-95/Rt 1? No wonder he doesn't give a damn about the traffic jams the rest of us face.

ShowMe, MO said...

Thee are two issues here. One is providing appropriate roadways for
moving people efficiently. The otheris zoning and building appropriate to the local geography, environment and natural
resources. It is job of MDX to address the former. It is the job of county government to look to the latter. Alfred Lurigados, former head MDX engineer, was a visionary who saw that roads in this county were always built after they were needed, not before. The center of population in west Kendall is a mile on either side of SW 142 Ave from Flagler to SW 152 Ave. The role of an extended 836 is to allow west Kendall traffic to head
west to go north and east easing east bound traffic and allowing BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) to use the new and other MDX roadways to take auto traffic off of the roads. BRT will only work if the traffic can move at 55 MPH or higher in regular traffic without dedicated lanes. The projected $700 Million
build out of MDX will do that. The
problem is how fast we achieve that build out. Alfred saw where we must go; the current Executive
Director and Board Chair are far off base on how fast we get there; they refuse to mitigate the rate and to understand that they cannot overburden the traveling public with the cost of rapid expansion. When discussing these matters it is helpful to understand some of the factors at play. This includes the MDX board. And the proposed Dippsy Doodle Expressway on SW US 1
is total madness and a money and power grab by MDX; extend MetroRail.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage you to do your homework before you start throwing names out there. I see you still think that "U.S. Century Bank" insiders will benefit from extending the UDB. You are showing how little you really know about the situation.

Anonymous said...

People just don't get it...Build more roads...oh wait we have and there is still traffic. The 826 is like 10 lanes and guess what? It has done nothing to improve the commute.

But you build roads and you get votes!

Anonymous said...

The core question is are we gonna build a city up or expand it beyond the UDB out. Building 826 out is only gonna make everyone's commute worse. If we build it up, we are forced to invest in mass transit and at least give us a chance to improve traffic. Its not elitist its just simple physics. The more cars out there mean more cars in general throughout the whole city, while more density could lead to more households without cars, as happens in other major cities and trends across the nation in the last 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Easing up traffic for middle class working folks is bad. Lets blow more money on bike paths for granola lickers and bus lanes for people who don't pay taxes (booze taxes don't count).