Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferocious Traffic: what comes next? … by gimleteye

In Miami during the summer, traffic is a breeze compared to what comes next. As schools return and the fall weather improves, traffic turns titanic.

What is happening downtown, these days, at rush hour and beyond defies elaboration. There is only one word for the blaring horns, lane restrictions, the gridlock at successive street lights: ferocious.

The traffic is ferocious for a reason.
image at 8:21 AM

When you are stuck in Miami traffic this December, remember: you voted for the elected officials -- in the city of Miami, the city of Miami Beach, in Miami-Dade county, the state legislature and Governor's Mansion who made this happen.

Many of these public officials are still in office. Many are looking for a way back in.

Will voters ever hold them accountable for the destruction of quality of life that goes along with community-stifling, business-deadening traffic? Not yet.

There is every indication (Ludlam Trail, anyone?) that our elected officials will continue to vote for "compromises" that impose even greater traffic burdens on taxpayers and residents.

Massive construction and development of downtown corridors preceded any response by elected officials to estimate, plan and build infrastructure adequate to the need.

Sure every zoning and permitting hearing is clogged with expert consultants, using charts and graphs to show how their client's project will not increase traffic.

Complainers -- civic activists for better transit, for public parks and the environment -- are derided, dismissed, marginalized or otherwise politely pushed away by technicalities.

Builders during the boom and even after the bust are glorified. Their names get put on buildings, while the mess they helped created is absorbed as the natural order of things. Jorge Perez, for example. Mayor Manny Diaz, for example.

When you want "growth at any cost", the way the Chamber of Commerce or Club for Growth or Associated Industries or the South Florida Builders do, taxpayers are left with exactly this: ferocious traffic.

These days one begins to hear voices from the business sector in advertiser-sponsored media, lamenting we "could" kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Ex-cuse me?

For distant investors -- that describes the vast majority of owners in downtown Miami -- all that matters is that their assets are safe and secure. The rest of us -- the commuters, the downtown residents imagining they are moving into a sophisticated city -- are fuel pellets for growth.

You could ask, wouldn't it be a good idea to make traffic improvements concurrent at the same time or in advance of construction and development?

At the state level, the idea of comprehensive land use planning was destroyed by the Republican legislature after more than thirty years of work and bipartisan consensus. Was Gov. Scott held accountable for putting the Florida DCA, the agency once charged with reviewing traffic concurrency, into a capital broom closet?

As all the Miami condo canyons were being created and making mortgage investors, insurers, banks and their shareholders very wealthy on Brickell and downtown, of course they knew that the roadways would not be able to hold the traffic.

We've been planning badly for transit to accommodate growth for so long that, now, there is no elasticity whatsoever in car movement along Miami's roadways and interstates. At rush hour, any -- and I mean, ANY -- glitch in traffic flow causes a massive logjam that can easily double or triple normal transit times.

The other evening, trying to find the fastest route downtown -- imagining to be on the far side of rush hour -- I looked at my Google map and every road and artery downtown was a solid red line. It was a representation of cardiac arrest.

Ferocious traffic is not destiny. It is what we chose at the ballot box. 


Anonymous said...

Stop building giant parking garages too. It only encourages more car traffic.

Anonymous said...

It's not just downtown. New gridlock creations are popping up along Coral Way, 27the Ave and Bird Road with the new high rises. But it's not as if the new residents can abandon their cars and walk places- the sidewalks and pedestrian corridors are unpleasant and unsafe to navigate. With so many cars and inconsiderate drivers and no enforcement, pedestrians have to navigate thru unsafe conditions. I personally have experienced many near misses in walking in downtown Coral Gables and there have been numerous accidents and even deaths of pedestrians in this area.

Anonymous said...

For all the fancy charts and renderings , stararchitects and celebrity bling, Miami's built envirinment is ugly and alienating. Especially from a pedestrians perspective. The canyons that rise alongside you are out of human scale on the ground level. Dodging cars at intersections and across garage entrances feels like a frogger game. And there is no respite in a park or safe space to retreat to. No wonder Miami has the dubious distinction as the most unhappy stressed city to live in. What have we created?

Anonymous said...

Traffic is another form of pollution. Corporations that create it as a biproduct of their business, do not expect to pay for remediation of their environmental damage. To increase the liklihood of their local investment, they receive incentives that ease the burden of impact fees. Unlike Everglades pollution or devastation to wildlife that isn't overtly visible, the endless string of red car brake lights is our tangible reality.

Caffeine Clicks said...

The west side of Miami is so gridlocked. Look at Kendall. I purposely moved as east as possible to avoid having to take 836 or US1. Coral Way is definitely getting choked up at all hours of the day, I take 16th St. whenever possible.

F Garcia said...

I live in Kendall and have to commute to my business in Doral. Having to take 826 every day is a grueling, especially with all the construction just past Mall of the Americas.

Anonymous said...

What's the Plan B? I suggest creating another blue ribbon panel to talk about Miami's transportation crisis! Meanwhile, instead of traffic lights, put city and county commissioners with whistles to direct traffic on US 1! And 836! and Downtown! Oh, build more lanes, that always works! Good for the rock miners and the lobbyists! LOL LOL LOL

Anonymous said...

How does it actually work each time a new high rise submits its permitting paperwwork? Do the developer's study actually say that adding 100 new residences or whatever will not impact traffic? After Rick Scott is there even a requirement for a traffic impact study? Or any impact - How are they able to get new sewer hookups when our sewer system is decrepit and $25 Billion in needed repairs. Yes that was a BILLION in necessary infrastructure needed.

Bob Shanbrom said...

While I had the unfortunate circumstance of living in Miami I went by bike, beating traffic almost anywhere. Now there are cool electric bikes. Why not use e-bikes?

Anonymous said...

Any city which allows large scale condos projects to be built is going to have massive traffic problems. Quality of life suffers when a city reaches a certain density point. Miami Beach and Miami exceeded the capacity point about 20,000 condominium units ago.

Anonymous said...

It's happening all over the county, not just around downtown. Way out in west Kendall, what should be a relatively small suburban street, SW 120 St, is gridlocked in both directions at rush hours because it's a Turnpike exit, and the last 10 years has seen no moderation in the proliferation of warehouses and townhouse communities in the area. It's a four lane street, and there is no room to expand.

Anonymous said...

The solution is to live in the Urban Core, or close enough to it to take public transport. Not live out in the suburbs and commute to Downtown and then bitch about the traffic and blame it on construction for people who WANT to live in Downtown.
Check out the Downtown and Brickell area and Biscayne corridor after 6 pm. Young professionals and families are walking their dogs, jogging, walking to do their errands and enjoying urban living. I should know, I'm one of them. It's irresponsible and ignorant to just blame traffic on Downtown development.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the Herald silent. Guess they figured it out and abandoned ship, downtown. Money.

Dave said...

Good read on what MDTransit has in its plans to solve the problem (hint..they are planning nothing and are just trying to survive as commissioners continue to defund mass transit):

Skip Van Cel said...

Back in the 60's and 70's the county would often impose a building moratorium until infrastructure concerns were addressed. If one suggested a building moratorium now they would be accused of practicing communism and run out of town. There is no solution because there is no plan.

Skip Van Cel said...

Sometime around 2005, When I was publisher of the Biscayne Times, I was called to the city of Miami to discuss a planning update of a streetcar(electric train) from downtown up to the Design District and through Wynwood. The plan was already on the drawing board to be operating by 2011 and they were going to make some changes. City officials revealed that they were going to extend the train along 36 st to the airport. It was so exciting. Until the presenter stated that the new date was 2018. I asked, "why not finish the first leg and then do the extension." The reply was that they would save money if it was all done at once. At that moment I knew it would never happen as the people making the decisions would never ride public transportation.

Anonymous said...

We need to start the discussion with what happened to the transit tax money. Billions of dollars worth of contracts and NOTHING to show for it. We need a forensic audit to see what it was used for and who got the money.

Anonymous said...

city of south miami manager steven alexander said something like this on november 18, 2014 during his report to the city commission:
We had an audit done by the County of the PTP funds and the audit showed.. it was up to sept 30th last year for the five years kinda before i started doing the budgets here the primary objective of the audit was to insure that the surtax proceeds were used in compliance with the interlocal agreement ....when they send us the money we have to divide it up into 80% for transportation and 20% for transit .. It found that the city had under spent transit funds by a little over $163k and under spent its transportation funds by $100k that is accumulative over the five year period..What was the city doing with or using a little over $263K of taxpayer money?? FNBSM??

Is the city of Miami or Miami Dade County doing the same?
What did their audit reports indicate for PTP Funds?

Anonymous said...

The PTP dollars allocated annually to each municipal government in Miami-Dade is a waste of good transit money. The municipal allocation was used purely as bait to get people to vote for the transit tax. The City of South Miami is using the transit funding to build a few bus stops that are so poorly designed, that they can't shield people from getting soaked while waiting for the bus during a rain storm. Steven Alexander sucks as South Miami's city manager - send the jackass back to Cutler Bay; he's Mayor Stoddard's hand-picked pet, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

No way! We don't want Steve Alexander can keep him in your insane asylum of pleasant living. We have enough issues in Cutler Bay with developers and lobbyists in cozy relationships with some of our town officials. And of course what does it all revolve around? More irresponsible development that will only create further gridlock on use to be lovely and free flowing Old Cutler Rd. Boy did that bus leave the station. But wait no, there are no buses on forever two lane Old Cutler. So suck it up South Dade, north to south it's US1 the TPIKE, and Old Cutler...oh and the many small city streets that commuters now maneuver through twice daily as bypasses to gridlock. And by the way more gridlock is on the way thanks to a zoning change a developer wants from Cutler Bay to add a strip mall to Old Cutler Rd near SW 184. It's likely to pass as a result of let's just say...shenanigans. So get your books on tape ready cause the ride is only going to get bumpier. Is there such thing as work from your car?

Anonymous said...

Application No. 6

Applicant/Representative: Miami-Dade County
Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources
111 NW 1 Street, 12th floor
Miami, Florida 33128-1972
Location: Countywide
Requested Text Changes:
1. Amend the CDMP Land Use Element by revising the element’s Goal, Objectives LU-6 and LU-7, and Policies LU-6A, LU-7D and LU-8A;
May 2014 Cycle 6-1 Application No. 6

1. Revise the Goal; Objective LU-6 and related Policy LU-6A; Objective LU-7 and related Policies LU-7A, LU-7D; and Policy LU-8A of the CDMP Land Use Element as follows:
Objective LU-7
Miami-Dade County shall require all new development and redevelopment in existing and planned transit corridors and urban centers to be planned and designed to promote transit-oriented development (TOD), and transit use, which mixes residential, retail, office, open space and public uses in a safe, pedestrian-friendly environment that promotes mobility for people of all ages and abilities through the use of rapid transit services.
May 2014 Cycle 6-3 Application No. 6

Anonymous said...

On the micro level. Even our local tree hugger Cindy Lerner embraced overdevelopment. She let trader Joe's open in Pinecrest with not enough parking. They took over an old low traffic book store. The planners said no. Food stores need more parking. But she second guessed them. The opening was a fiasco as predicted. She said it would eventually be okay . To this day it gridlocks and that's with most of Pinecrest knowing to stay away.
Too bad. Both the community and the business suffer for poor planning.

Anonymous said...

We are going into the seventh year of construction on 826 and 836. SEVEN YEARS of our lives stuck because of a comatose voters and constituent.

Anonymous said...

The Transit Tax money went to employee pay and benefits for existing employees and to new hires. Many of the new hires were connected to old hires. Almost none of the money went to infrastructure improvements, like the politicians promised. Vote NO to all County Bond Referendums.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the joy being stuck in traffic, we are also paying new tolls on 836. The full length of westbound 836, from I95 to 137th Avenue, four tolls. That's four tolls on a 15 mile road.

Anonymous said...

$2.50 for the priviledge of driving on the 835 in one direction. Three tolls at .70 cents and one at .30 cents.

.70 cents for the priviledge of driving on the 112 in one direction. Two tolls each at .35 cents.

Try avoid driving on these roads.

What was the holy grail goal amount to be collected?

Anonymous said...

What the hell are you people talking about the 1/2 penny not going to projects?

Did anyone notice the metrorail goes to the airport FINALLY?

That was PTP. No Federal money in that one.

everyone over 65, no matter how much they make, rides transit for free. the metromover is free.

there are more buses in service than ever. not as many as promised but way more than before the tax.

the thing most people don't know is that a big chunk of the 1/2 penny went to road building.

fully 20% goes to cities. some use it well - like the coral gables trolley service. others not so much.

the problem with the 1/2 penny is that it wasn't enough. never was. and if you try a half-measure for a huge problem 30 years in the making and promise everyone that its the total solution, it won't matter how much better things are from when you start. it still looks like failure.

Geniusofdespair said...

We have a rule against using "you people". What are you?

Don't do it again Or you will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

3450 Contractual Services - Citywide Transportation Plan which will (NOT) include roadway, sidewalk, swales, neighborhood greenways & bicycle plan.
6490 Construction Projects –
Pinecrest Villas/Snapper Creek Traffic Calming - Design and Construction (Between 62 Ave and US1 from 78 St to 80 St) $150,000
Twin Lakes/Bird Estates Traffic Calming Construction (Between 61 AVE & 64 AVE, from 40 ST to 44 ST; & between 56 ST to 64 ST, from 62 AVE to 67 AVE) $175,000
Manor Lane Traffic Calming - Construction (Between 72 St and US1 from 63 Ave to 67 Ave) $100,000
Cocoplum Traffic Calming Construction (Between 62 AVE and 67 AVE, from 64 ST to 72 ST) (Design Concerns Under Review) $150,000
42 Street Drainage Design and Roadway Reconstruction $85,000
78 Street & 63 Avenue Drainage Roadway Reconstruction $85,000
South Miami Intermodal Transportation Plan - Study and Design (AGAIN?)$100,000
South Miami Intermodal Transportation Plan - Construction $125,000
Citywide Sidewalk Repairs$40,000
60th Place Road Resurfacing (Between 40 & 44 ST)$50,000
Citywide Replacement of Directional Street Signs & Posts$150,000
SW 62 AVE Design and Roadway Reconstruction$350,000

Under the PTP's $17 billion dollar business plan, Miami-Dade County commits to adding more buses and routes, improving service, expanding rapid transit and creating thousands of transportation and construction-related jobs over the next 25 years.
County Transportation Expansion Question

Shall the County implement the People’s Transportation Plan including: Plans to build rapid transit lines to West Dade, Kendall, Florida City, Miami Beach and North Dade; expanding bus service; adding 635 buses; improving traffic signalization to reduce traffic backups; improving major and neighborhood roads and highways, including drainage; and funding to municipalities for road and transportation projects by levying a ½ percent sales surtax whose proceeds will be overseen by the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust?

About the Municipal Program
The Ordinance creating the half-percent transportation surtax calls for 20 percent of surtax proceeds to be distributed directly to municipalities on a pro rata basis for use on local transportation and transit projects. Municipalities must apply at least 20 percent of their share of surtax proceeds toward transit uses and must submit their transportation plans to the County according to established deadlines. Florida Statute 212, Title XIV defines the purposes for which surtax proceeds may be expended.

Municipality City of South Miami
Currently Operates Circulator NO
Transit expenditures
Audited expenditures (A) $246,481
Budgeted since audit (B) $319,057
Total through FY 11-12 (C) $565,538
Budgeted for FY 12-13 $159,000

City of South Miami 9/09
Transportation expenditures
Audited expenditures (A)$1,158,426
Budgeted since audit (B)$3,610,670
Total through FY 11-12 (C)$4,769,096
Budgeted for FY 12-13 $715,000
Total PTP Payments as of June 2012 $3,186,470
Column A + Column B = Column C
Excludes Indian Village. Doral, Cutler Bay and Miami Gardens became recipients of Surtax funds in 2012.

Anonymous said...

The above listed traffic calming projects for the City of South Miami have been promised and included in the budget for almost a decade. What makes the 2014-15 fiscal year any different? At least Mayor Stoddard has some level of respectability to remove the traffic calming project for Mango Terrace, which has been promised to residents for a decade as well-but never delivered.

Anonymous said...

County Planners, with degrees in development and growth of cities along with chambers of commerce dictate and promote economic development with no respect for the "quality of life" in communities. The pressures of how fast the UDB was moved HAS LED TO THE GRID-LOCK OF OUR PARADISE LOST.

What's left of this county of Dade should signal to its leaders, "We are now listed as a "No Growth County"
and improve what is left for the futures heirs of Dade.

Anonymous said...

Ready to move to my keys house and watch the canal and bay rise around me. At least, my home could
Be my island.

Anonymous said...

Everyone wants a better situation, but it is one lie after another over and over again. Every time we trust and vote for improvements we get nothing in return, and somebody gets rich. So, we are stuck.