Category Archives: Transportation

Miami International Airport, Expressway expansions, Metrorail and People Mover initiatives, among other transit related issues are discussed.

Biscayne Blvd. Planned Resurfacing & Uptown’s Retailization

Image: Section of Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side undergoing an extensive reconstruction.

Biscayne Boulevard is undergoing extensive work along the CBD, but the area north of the I-395 up to 36th street, represents a separate phase of Biscayne Boulevard’s enhancement, and is currently unaffected by the Boulevard’s improvement initiative. According to DDA records, the work in the Uptown section of Biscayne Boulevard is expected to begin sometime this year with completion slated for 2008. An area that is currently affected by resurfacing work is Biscayne Boulevard north of 55th Street where stores with US-1 frontage are facing bulldozers, barricades, and crawling auto traffic. There’s little doubt as to the negative effect that the resurfacing initiative is having on those businesses. As a retailer, you don’t want a construction site situated on your front door step. As a consumer, you don’t want to have to traverse through construction traffic, dust clouds, and fragmented roads unless you have to.

Image: Same section of Biscayne Boulevard as the image above.

The resurfacing is necessary and highly beneficial, but there will be a price to pay for street level retailers. The effect will be severely felt in Uptown where newly built mixed-use developments are adding much needed retail space along the Boulevard. Already, these fledgling retailers are itching for nearby towers to become fully occupied, but when the resurfacing begins, so will their real woes. Many may not be able to wait out the temporary (assuming there won’t be major delays) negative effects the resurfacing may have on their operations. Others who may be interested in opening up shop might opt to wait till after the resurfacing takes place. The retailization of Uptown, along Biscayne Boulevard, is beginning to take shape, and is crucial to the urbanization of the area, but the resurfacing will present it with a major challenge. It’s critical that the work commence ASAP and proceed as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, there will be considerable consequences to be had.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Transportation, Upper East Side, Uptown: Media & Entertainment (PAC) District, Uptown: Midtown Miami, Uptown: Wynwood Arts District

Cleared. Barely.

Here we have a cargo ship routinely passing under the Metro-mover bridge. While waiting for the ship to pass, I couldn’t help but notice that it barely cleared the bridge–by like 10 feet or so. I know the river dredging project is going to allow cargo ship capacity to increase, but definitely not the size of the ships. This one just barely made it through.

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Filed under Miami River, Transportation

City of Miami Plans for Bay Walk

The Bay Walk promenade is one of those public space projects that is a sort of icing on the cake. It isn’t necessary for the vibrancy of the urban core, but it will improve Downtown’s image, link the Bay Walk to the Miami River Greenway, boost local business activity, increase the quality of life and provide more bay access to the public, as well as add another tourist destination.

There are several major residential high rises recently built and/or under construction that are within a very short walking distance from the proposed Bay Walk. Naturally, buyers in these complexes have a vested interest in the plan’s success. Through a property value standpoint, they are to benefit the most if it is built. The DDA’s report, produced by Projects in Public Places (PPS) and in part by Dover, Kohler, & Partners, does not include how the I-395 realignment would affect the Bay Walk plans nor does it include how the added park space generated by the demolition of the existing I-395 overpass would be factored in.

Design and Functionality:

There will be several paths that link the Bay Walk to nearby attractions and venues. These are critical to enhancing accessibility for pedestrians and the overall functionality of the promenade.

Dimensions:

Approximately 15 to 20 feet wide and 3 miles long

Image: Toronto waterfront path dimensions and landscaping

Bay Walk features:

  • Pedestrian-scaled downward-facing halogen lighting
  • Landscaping incorporating a tree line canopy as well as awnings for shade in some areas
  • Multi-national flags
  • “Over look area” or observation deck with benches, plantings, kiosk, and binoculars. This deck could be cantilevered over the water and serve as a location for public art and a stop for the water taxi.
  • Benches and seating at nodes, corners, intersections, facing scenic views, around destinations and facilities.
  • Features will be bundled as much as possible: i.e.: a bench will be near a trash can, under a tree, and light.
  • Paving material other than asphalt is recommended. i.e.: crushed stone, crushed shells, small pea gravel, or other particulate material that promotes drainage, allows wheelchairs and strollers to roll unimpeded, but gives a softer feel to the foot.
  • Fishing pier in front of the Herald, which would also serve as a water taxi stop (proposed).
  • At-grade pedestrian drawbridges or floating bridges to connect Bicentennial Park to the FEC slip and to Bayside

Multi-purpose walkways:

  • Two types of walkways; One for biking, jogging, roller blading, and skateboarding, and the other for strolling.
  • Each pathway will be separated by a Belgian block border.


Image: Brooklyn’s Promenade Park

Security:

  • Security patrols on golf cart and Police patrols on bikes
  • Security Call Boxes
  • Rules of conduct postings throughout

A panel of citizens stated that they would like for the Bay Walk to be:

  • Touristy
  • Theme-park-like
  • Tropical
  • Shady and leisurely
  • Low-Key
  • A place to spread out your picnic blanket
  • Of families and children playing
  • Colorful

The Use of Parcel B behind the American Airline Arena:

This excellently situated county-owned water front parcel is directly on the Bay Walk path. There are several propositions for its use.

  • Restaurants such as outdoor bar and grill (too limited)
  • An outdoor market, farmer’s market, or collector’s market (not a bad idea, but redundant; considering Bayside Marketplace is nearby)
  • Bait and tackle shop for nearby marinas (terrible!)
  • -Dancing Ballroom and Square (Eh…I’m not sold)
  • An open area for T.V. events (like a visiting Today Show)
  • Science Museum Wildlife facility (they already have Bicentennial)
  • -Recreational activities pavilion (rent kayaks, skates, paddle boats). This would work if -Biscayne Bay were a quiet lake
  • Aquarium (this idea has been circulating for some time but is not in PPS report)

Image: Paris Plage

Accessibility:

  • Space for temporary dockage of visiting boats and taxi service
  • Additional passenger rail access via Bicentenial station
  • Shuttle services from nearby transit stations to the Baywalk

Waterfront Promenade Models:

  • Paris, Plage
  • Toronto Waterfront
  • Battery Park, NYC
  • Promenade Park, Brooklyn
  • Venice Beach, CA
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Oxford, England
  • Riverfront Recapture, Hartford CT
  • Sydney, Australia

Key factors for success:

  • Pedestrian access
  • Sight lines
  • Upgrade Sea Walls
  • Comfort
  • Sociability
  • Linkage (to the Boulevard)
  • Defined edges
  • Destinations
  • Open spaces
  • Activities
  • Maintenance

Bay Walk Track:

  • One Miami
  • Hotel Intercontinental
  • Bayfront Park
  • East of (around) Bayside
  • Under Port Blvd.
  • FEC slip
  • Pacel B, behind the AAA
  • Bicentennial
  • I-395
  • Miami Herald
  • Sealine Marina
  • Miami Women’s Club
  • Pace Park


Image: Battery Park, NYC

Potential Sources of Project Funding:

  1. Federal
    • EDA Grants (to create access to Watson Island)
    • Greenacres funding
    • Tea 21 – ISTEA
  2. State Funds
    • FDOT planning grant
    • FLA waterways assistance
    • FRDAP
    • Inland navigation assistance
    • Trail grants
  3. Local Funding Sources
    • Adopt/name a piece of the bay front/Bay Walk
    • Adopt a bench (NAPCES)
    • Banners (Corporate sponsered)
    • BBRRCT $80,000 Bay Walk grant
    • City and County bond funds
    • Community foundations
    • CRA – $1 million to fund north end
    • Development impact fees
    • Florida family foundations and local philanthropists
    • Friends groups/membership organizations
    • General Obligations bond
    • Tourism Bond Tax
    • Miami Herald $180,000 walkway grant
    • Redirect $1.5 million for the overpass to the Bay Walk
    • Tourism Bed Tax
    • Venetian Causeway toll revenue

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Filed under BoB Articles, Parks, The Big Picture, Transportation

Buses, Taxis, Cars, and Bulldozers

When a city is undergoing a transformation involving billions of dollars in construction and millions of square feet in new residential and retail space, it’s normal to have bulldozers cut you off on the road.

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Fortress Investments Acquires FECI for $3.5 Billion

New York-based Fortress Investments has acquired Florida East Coast Industries for $3.5 billion in a deal that gives the New York fund management firm control over rail lines that were originally created by Henry Flagler in the 19th Century. The rail lines pass through the urban core of several Florida cities including Miami, and are ideal for the expansion of the mass transit rail system. One of the FECI lines runs through Uptown parallel to Midtown. Armando Codina, principal of Flagler Development, an FECI subsidiary, is the biggest shareholder in the deal.


Map: Blue line represents existing FECI rail line (probable future passenger line) in M&E and Uptown area

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FDOT Plans for the I-395

Intro

The FDOT’s plans for the repositioning of the I-395 is critical for Miami’s urban core, particularly Parkwest and the M&E District. The plans for the Opus tower just north of the I-395 were canceled to ensure that the project would not be compromised, yet we hear of the $1 billion port tunnel bid being approved, but nothing about the I-395 repositioning. Let’s take a closer look at what the project will entail and how it may affect its surroundings:

Project Area:

There are 5 alternatives for repositioning the I-395

Alternative 1(No build):

This involves doing nothing. According to the FDOT, this would not alleviate traffic flow, and corridor deficiencies, not to mention the eyesore that is the existing overpass, which is an impediment for the development in the M&E District as well as Parkwest. In other words, bad idea.

Alternative 2:


Alt. 2 Image: The orange portions are the elevated highway. The red portions are elevated embankments.

(Elevated Midtown Interchange) This alternative involves increasing the elevation of the current overpass in order to make it less visually objectionable. This would also involve adding additional access and exit ramps at 4 locations. Frankly, this is a supersized version of what we have. No good.

Alternative 3 (Elevated Miami Avenue):

This provides for the expansion for the I-395 mainway to three lanes in both directions instead of two. The I-395 would be elevated as in alternative 2.

Alternative 4 (Tunnel):

Alt. 4 Image: The orange portions are the elevated highway. The red portions are elevated embankments.The green part is the tunnel between Miami Ave. and Biscayne Blvd.

This alternative provides for the expansion of the I-395 mainway to three lanes in both directions and includes a tunnel between Miami Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard.

Alternative 5 (Open Cut):

Alt. 5 Image: The orange portions are the elevated highway. The red portions are elevated embankments.The light blue part is the Open Cut tunnel.

This alternative provides for an extended “Open Cut” tunnel that extends from N.W. 3rd Avenue to Biscayne Blvd. “Open Cut” means that the freeway is dug in without a roof. N.W. 1st Avenue, N. Miami Ave., N.E. 3rd and 2nd, and Biscayne Blvd. would all cross the Open Cut freeway as bridges.

Conclusion

It appears that the Open Cut option is the most desirable as it extends farther than the tunnel in Alternative 4. Furthermore, it will be less costly than building a tunnel. The realignment will open up park space in the Parkwest area, surrounding the upstart urban neighborhood with park land to the north and west. This will make the already desirable neighborhood even more desirable. This might explain why Boymelgreen and Kodsi have snatched up so much land in the area. Furthermore, it will eliminate the overpass which is a major eyesore, security problem, transportation and development impediment.

It isn’t clear how much this project will cost, where the funding will come from, or when construction will begin, but it is clear that local and state officials are intent on making one of the alternatives a reality, and it seems Alternative Five is the most likely to be initiated.

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Filed under Transportation

Alton Road Flyover Might be Demolished

South Beach’s 5th street flyover is studied by the FDOT in order to best determine what future course of action to take with the overpass in relation to the proposed plans for the voter-approved Baylink.

This is encouraging news since not much has been said about the Baylink in recent months. The City of Miami Beach initially opposed the Baylink proposition. The 5th street/Alton Rd. flyover currently runs through Boymelgreen’s Vitri project parcel and the proposed 5th and Alton big box project to the east.

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Filed under Miami Beach: SoFi, Miami Beach: South Beach, Transportation

Big News for Miami’s Transit System

Yesterday, Miami-Dade gained federal approval for the acquisition of 114 parcels of land along 9.5 miles of the NW 27th Avenue corridor. This land was needed in order to expand the Metrorail line from 82nd street to the Broward County boundary. This expansion will make the Metrorail accessible even to those in Southern Broward. The expansion will add seven new stations:

There will also be 36 new rail cars added to the mix. Although this does not solve the lack of rail transit access for the West Dade, it indicates a historic step forward for the Metrorail nevertheless. Existing East/West railroad tracks and plans for the Intermodal Center present a tantalizing future for westward expansion of the Metrorail, but plans remain largely stalled. As Miami’s urban core continues to rapidly evolve, daily, before our eyes, connecting everyone to it, is vital. This development is the latest step forward in pushing Miami’s world class agenda.

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Rail Volution Coming to Miami

From October 31st – November 3rd there will be a Rail Volution in Miami. What is Rail Volution? Taken from their site:

“Rail~Volution is, first and foremost, a conference for passionate practitioners – people from all perspectives who believe strongly in the role of land use and transit as equal partners in the quest for greater livability and greater communities…Attending Rail~Volution is like being in the midst of a living, breathing laboratory where the best new ideas from around the country are introduced, tossed around with great fervor, researched and tested thoroughly, and then shared among like-minded colleagues. Expect to attend hands-on workshops that feature case studies and how-to discussions, symposia that provide in-depth explorations of issues facing every community, and inspiring plenary sessions that showcase some of the best livability minds in the country and the world. Attend Rail~Volution and you are guaranteed to return home with a palette of new ideas and a toolbox of new strategies for making your community more livable.”

I don’t know about you, but BoB will be attending.

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The Half Penny Tax Has a Mascot!

Earlier today, on my way to Burger King, I quickly passed by one of the many infrastructure improvement signs along Miami-Dade county’s roads, but something caught my eye. On the sign, I thought I saw a half vanilla half chocolate cookie cartoon with arms, legs, and a face. I got a bit closer. It was no cookie. The half penny tax has a mascot: the Half Penny. Obviously much thought went into its elaborate design. To say nothing else, the thing is slightly ridiculous, and I wonder how it came about. At what point did someone in the county decide that the half penny tax needed a face, and it needed to look like this:

Did the County sponsor a fifth grade drawing competition? Could this be the winning drawing? God I hope so.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Transportation