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Maurice A. Ferré Park downtown has been saved from commercial development and Miami commissioners are now considering filling in the large FEC Slip next door to expand the waterfront park’s footprint.

Scores filled City Hall on April 11 with pleas to support commission Chairman Ken Russell’s resolution to protect the park and slip from commercial development. The resolution ran counter to an active city request for proposals for a marina, ship store and restaurant at the site.

The 39-page request issued Jan. 18 by the Department of Procurement, on behalf of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, which oversees Bayfront Park and Maurice A. Ferré Park, sought proposals by April 18 for lease of city-owned waterfront for “marina/restaurant/ship’s store uses” at Florida East Coast (FEC) Slip at Maurice A. Ferré Park, a former seaport dock that fronts the park’s south edge.

Commissioner Joe Carollo, who chairs the Bayfront Park Management Trust board, said he sought the proposals after a developer proposed filling the slip with floating surfaces to build upon.

A city dedication in January renamed the park in honor of Mr. Ferré, a longtime city mayor and community leader.

In a March 25 letter, Mr. Ferré opposed the request for proposals, which he said would open more Biscayne Bay waterfront to major commercial development. He also opposes a plan for a Ferris wheel at Bayside Marketplace next to Bayfront Park.

“Please reject these and future requests to further intrude by again improperly monetizing our beautiful series of parks along the waterfront and river of Downtown Miami,” Mr. Ferré wrote.

After a long commission debate, Mr. Carollo indicated he would no longer pursue the request for proposals. Then, commissioners unanimously approved an amended resolution protecting the park from commercial development, but removing two references to the slip.

The commission is expected to later consider legislation to fill in the slip. Mr. Carollo said the county is considering more dredging to deepen the seaport, and with coordination bottomlands dug up could be “free fill” to close the slip.

“It could be a win-win for everybody,” he said. “By filling in the slip we’d give [the park] the size it truly deserves and increase green space tremendously. It would make the park into a bigger crown jewel than it is today.”

He said filling the slip would add about 10 acres to the park and allow for a pedestrian pathway southward past AmericanAirlines Arena. He said the city should force the Heat Organization to follow through on a promise to build a pedestrian bypass connecting to Bayside Marketplace and push the county to make Parcel B, the waterfront east of the arena, into a full-fledged park.

Those moves could extend public access on the bay from the InterContinental Miami hotel, at the Miami River’s mouth, north to Pérez Art Museum Miami, Mr. Carollo said. “This would be what we all truly wanted.”

There are also plans for a baywalk under the MacArthur Causeway northward.

Commissioner Manolo Reyes supported the resolution protecting Ferré Park but wants the city attorney to draft a resolution to protect all parks from commercial development.

The post Miami looks at filling large bayfront FEC Slip appeared first on Miami Today.

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For more than five years now, Miami Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort has pushed for studies and programs to improve public transportation on the area’s waterways.

Mr. Gort believes that with Biscayne Bay at our doorstep, and the long and winding Miami River and tributaries extending waterways inland, this area is ripe for more waterborne transportation services.

Countless times he has pushed city colleagues, along with county and state officials, to seriously explore and create waterborne transportation, along with other methods to ease the chokehold of cars and trucks on Miami’s streets and highways.

His latest advancement for water transit came April 11 when the Miami City Commission was acting on a resolution to proceed with a partnership to build a public transit connection with Miami Beach.

The long-sought goal is to establish public transit routes from the mainland city to the island city.

As he has mentioned many times, Mr. Gort said Miami is one of the few major cities with a vast connection to water but with little to no water transport.

“There is so much water … and it’s just not utilized for waterborne transportation like it could be,” he said.

The latest legislation called for establishing a partnership among the city, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami Beach to improve regional mobility between the city’s urban core and Miami Beach via the MacArthur Causeway.

In the summer of 2016 the three local governments and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) executed a memorandum of understanding for continuing efforts to improve regional mobility between the City of Miami and Miami Beach.

The new resolution has the three governments enter into a multi-agency partnership to advance efforts in connection with the county’s Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan, adopted by the county commission, which identifies the Beach Corridor Direct Connection Project as one of six rapid transit priority corridors, for the completion of environmental, planning and engineering studies.

Mr. Gort indicated support for the move but wanted to make sure the studies also examine potential waterborne transportation routes and services.
The resolution was then approved by a unanimous vote of city commissioners.

The new partnership will be created through approval of an interlocal agreement, which would then implement terms of the 2016 memorandum of understanding.

The SMART Plan prioritizes light rail or premium transit technology along six priority corridors, and a bus express rapid transit network.

The Miami City Commission endorsed the SMART Plan in 2017.

The latest resolution states: “… the Parties wish to continue the efforts already underway to improve regional mobility within the geographic limits of the Project, which include the City and Miami Beach, and are defined by the Federal New Starts Study Project … from 5 Street at Alton Road in Miami Beach to the Government Center in the City’s Downtown, part of the City’s streetcar alignment from the City’s Downtown to its Midtown, and from 5 Street in Miami Beach to the Miami Beach Convention Center.”

The legislation says the three parties agree to fund the environmental, planning, and engineering studies, having a total estimated cost for the Tier 2 Study of $10 million, with FDOT providing $5 million, the county $3,750,000 in Charter County Transportation Surtax Funds for the project, and the remaining $1,250,000 in three equal amounts of $417,000, subject to budgetary approval.

Guiding the implementation of the overall SMART Plan is the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization, or TPO.

The organization adopted a resolution in 2016 endorsing the SMART Plan and directed the executive director to work with a fiscal priorities committee to determine the costs and potential sources of funding for project development and environment study for the projects.

The plan includes rapid transit corridors and express bus routes to increase connectivity for about 77% of Miami-Dade County residents who travel outside their residential district for employment in other areas of the county.

The post Miami-Miami Beach transit link advances, with water options appeared first on Miami Today.

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Observers of the Brexit drama playing out in Britain can be forgiven for not making any clear predictions: the situation changes daily, if not hourly, and much remains unknown.

“We see three scenarios,” said Frank Gonzalez, principal in charge of the audit department and leader of the financial institutions and SEC practices group at the MBAF accounting firm. “One, nothing happens; two, they do a ‘hard’ Brexit and break off totally from the European Union; and three, they are able to work together to agree to some compromises” that would soften the impact of Britain’s withdrawing from the European Union.

Because Britons are the second-largest group (after Canadians) of international tourists to visit Florida, and also likely home buyers here, the effects on a no-deal Brexit would be intense, observers say.

“If the US dollar becomes more valuable, it will become more expensive for Britons to come here, to buy here,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

But the complications don’t end there. Bankers here that have relationships with bankers in the United Kingdom are pondering what will happen to those relationships, and deals that may be pending between residents of the two countries, he said.

“What will the regulatory environment be? What will happen to those deals?” Mr. Gonzalez asked. “Will there be a rush to clear those transactions, and will some customers shy away from deals there? There is also concern over derivative products. We just don’t know at this point.”

A no-agreement Brexit would most likely lead to an economic slowdown in Britain, which might negatively affect South Florida, he said, so observers are hoping that some sort of compromises will eventually be struck.

“Some of our clients and customers have been bracing themselves for a year or two now, and now the feeling is that there’s so much more uncertainty,” he said. “There more confusion today than there was a year ago.”

“I’ve read a lot, trying to figure out what’s going to happen, and how it’s going to affect banks and South Florida,” said Greg Bader, a shareholder in the Gunster law firm who practices banking and corporate law.

“There will be a ripple effect, but it may be more muted” if Britain manages to avoid a no-deal Brexit, he said. “An abrupt Brexit would be a lot harsher.

There are still more questions than answers. “We may see more strength in the euro, but what happens to the pound? Does it go down and stay down, or does it recover? Over a period of time, things may change, but there will be some level of disruption.”

Britons buying and selling property here could be negatively affected, but they may find the US a safe haven for their money, as many South Americans do, he said. “There could be opposing forces at work.”

The continuing tug of war between Britain and the European Union could drag down stock markets, he added. “Markets don’t like uncertainty.”

As of late last week, it appeared that the deadline for Britain to withdraw had been postponed. “They’ve moved the goal posts out a year, which gives them more time to negotiate,” Mr. Bader said. “In talking to bankers, most are not worried at the moment. Most are hoping there will be some sort of deal to make it smoother.”

“It looks like the UK has another 12 months to finalize it, and that raises hopes for stability,” said Michael Unger, assistant vice president and investment officer at Coral Gables Trust Co. “A ‘hard’ Brexit, where the UK crashes out of the EU with no deals, would be very detrimental to trade, travel and other areas of the global economy.”

London-based HSBC Holdings, which has a significant presence in South Florida, re-assured investors on a recent conference call that it has a contingency plan in place for when and if Brexit eventually happens, he said.

Should a no-deal Brexit occur, tourists from Britain (whose numbers increased 3% last year) would be missed immediately, he said. If the pound were to falter, “It would be much more expensive for them to come here, and they might not have the ability to incur travel expenses,” especially if the country goes into an economic slump. “There would be a huge impact.”

In the real estate market, a loss of British and even European buyers (assuming the slowdown extends there) might be offset by an expected increase in buyers from the US Northeast who want to escape the federal tax burden of losing their deduction for state and local taxes, Mr. Unger said. “The SALT buyers may protect us from dips in the market,” he explained.

“Most financial markets assume the UK will avoid a ‘hard’ Brexit,” he said. “That would be the path forward with the least dramatic impact on the global economy. The vote to the leave the EU took place in June 2016, and nearly three years later, it still hasn’t happened.”

The post Brexit drama also playing out in South Florida appeared first on Miami Today.

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The Frost Museum of Science has a new home for its raptor rehabilitation center, as Miami-Dade lawmakers last week OK’d a deal with the museum to build and operate a North Miami Beach center to replace the old Vizcaya location.

The new center will be developed and maintained at a 2,651-square-foot former fire station building at Greynolds Park and provide the public with “environmental education programming… in collaboration with the park’s existing programming activities,” county Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring wrote April 9.

The museum will spend an estimated $1 million on designs, permitting, development, construction and operational costs.
Miami-Dade, Mr. Spring wrote, will pay nothing.

Commissioners forewent the county’s standard competitive bidding procedures and termination clause to approve the 10-year, $229,982 lease agreement that includes two five-year renewal options.

Commission Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson and Commissioner Sally Heyman sponsored and co-sponsored the item, respectively.

Final conceptual plans for the center – which will be renovated inside and out and include a 100-foot-long flight cage with cameras and a new parking lot – still need to be reviewed and approved by the county.

The museum’s contract with the county shows that the center will also include:
■Outdoor bird mews.
■A general clinic, surgery suite, holding space, food preparation room and recovery area.
■Radiology and necropsy rooms.
■A 24-person classroom for educational and conservational programming, including a new collaborative program with the county parks department.
■A receiving and office area, restrooms and storage space.

The Frost Museum, now located downtown at a new 250,000-square-foot facility off Biscayne Boulevard, closed the doors of its Coconut Grove location from the public in August 2015 after 55 years of operation.

But until recently, the museum continued to house its administrative offices and Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center there.

Built in 1991, the center received roughly 400 injured birds yearly, rehabilitating those it could and serving as a permanent habitat for those it could not release, including an Eastern screech owl and American bald eagle, the museum’s website states.

Last year, as the museum’s lease term neared completion, staff identified the former fire station as a possible replacement site.
Renovation, conversion and construction of the new center site, Mr. Spring wrote, will be paid by the Batchelor Foundation – the same philanthropic group that funded the original center – and be managed by Christina Salinas Cotter, parks assistant director of performance excellence.

Waiving the county’s regular bidding process, he continued, is in the county’s best interest because of the museum’s “proven track record in running a successful raptor rehabilitation center and educational conservation and preservation program,” as well as its “specialized expertise in… preservation and conservation services, their compatibility with the site’s unique facilities and outdoor natural areas, and their commitment to renovating the [fire station] at their own expense.”

Were the center not built there, he concluded, the former firehouse “would otherwise remain dormant” until the county itself paid to improve it.
Greynolds Park, officially dedicated in 1936, is Miami-Dade’s second-oldest park and was a popular attraction in the 1960s for hippies whose “love-in” gatherings there featured live music performances by popular acts like the Grateful Dead, according to the park website.

Today, the 249-acre park pays homage to that time with an annual love-in event in May.

Once completed, the new raptor center will join other amenities at the park including bike and nature trails, campgrounds, picnic pavilions, a golf course, canoe launch, nature center and playground, as well as educational “EcoAdventures” programming.

The post Museum raptor center winging to North Miami Beach appeared first on Miami Today.

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Blazing-fast fifth-generation wireless technology (5G) may be here before Super Bowl LIV, as three telecom giants are one county OK from starting to install needed antennas by February.

Commissioners in Audrey Edmonson’s Chairwoman’s Policy Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to permit Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Crown Castle to attach 5G small cell antennas to county poles on public rights-of-way.

If approved May 7, the companies will pay $150 yearly per small cell attachment on county property, including wood and metal poles, utility cables and streetlights.

The cells, which must be no more than 300 feet apart, will be made to match present aesthetics, Crown Castle Government Affairs Manager Jessica Fernandez said.

Where no poles or similar infrastructure exists, she said, they’d be “camouflaged” to look like common features like mailboxes.

Transportation Director Alice Bravo said the companies will share cells to reduce installations on county property but may erect new poles if they prove no other option exists.

T-Mobile’s Tony McDowell said FPL OK’d the companies placing small cells on its power poles but has yet to OK their use on FPL’s 12,500 Miami-Dade light poles.

5G will bring data rates of up to 1 gigabyte per second, 20 times faster than now, said AT&T spokesperson Thais Asper Keane.

Users, she said, will gain massive bandwidth and network reliability improvements, a tenfold drop in latency – the time between clicking a link and a page loading – and faster device connection and better battery life.

In addition to using existing cell towers to transmit and receive data, the companies still need approval to install fiber-optic cables via “micro-trenching,” which Ms. Fernandez said is “much less invasive” and lets “cars drive on that road immediately afterward.”

The post Super-fast 5G may be live in Miami by Super Bowl appeared first on Miami Today.

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Work is to begin the week of May 20 on a $67.2 million Florida Department of Transportation project to construct a new bridge to replace the 90-year-old bascule bridge along Southwest First Street from Southwest Second to Seventh avenues.

During the three years of construction, the bridge will be closed and a detour will be in place.

Besides replacing the bridge, the project will provide new bridge approach spans and a new bridge tender house, install new seawalls along the Miami River, provide new riverwalks under the bridge, and provide sidewalk connections to the bridge deck and Miami Greenway under the new bridge.

The Southwest First Street Bridge carries eastbound traffic into the heart of downtown. The bridge rises and opens to permit water traffic to pass.

More than 8,500 cars a day traverse the state-owned, state-operated span.

The old bridge, built at a cost of $300,000, was considered structurally deficient. Work to replace it was originally to begin in 2018 and be done in 2021. Now completion has been pushed back to June 2022.

The project will reduce the current four lanes of traffic on the bridge to three and add a 5-foot 5-inch wide dedicated bike lane between Southwest Second and Fifth avenues.

The Miami City Commission in 2015 declared four parcels of land on the river surplus and authorized the city manager to convey the land to the state at no cost for the bridge project.

The total contribution to the city from fees and other considerations from the overall project could reach about $118 million, Daniel Rotenberg, director of the city’s Department of Real Estate and Asset Management, said in 2015.

The city resolution said the land was sitting vacant, representing a maintenance cost and liability to the city.

The state is responsible for relocating the existing storm sewer outfall pipes at its expense.

The bridge is one of several bascule bridges on the river. It’s a companion to the West Flagler Street Bridge one block to the north, which carries westbound traffic out of downtown. Eastbound traffic on West Flagler Street is separated at Southwest 24th Avenue, through Little Havana, and ends at Biscayne Boulevard.

The Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled two meetings to answer questions about the bridge project. The first is from 5 to 7 p.m. April 23 at the Miami-Dade County Main Library, 101 W Flagler St. The second is 6 to 8 p.m. April 24 at the Miami-Dade County Hispanic Branch Library, 1398 SW First St. Parking is free for both meetings.

The post Bridge replacement to cause three-year detour appeared first on Miami Today.

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Pedro Agustín Valencia, Colombia’s general consul here since February, sees technology as integral in servicing the high demand for his services.
The consulate at 280 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables feels the demand. On a typical afternoon, each cubicle is booked, with 11 employees meeting with nationals applying for Colombian documents. About 20 more wait, among 300 to 350 who visit daily, the consulate says, most bearing to three requests.

The consulate provides a range of services to 15-plus Florida counties. Nationals can vote there in presidential elections; apply for their cédula, an identification document similar to a social security card; and order a standard passport for $145 or emergency passport for $116.
Civilians from countries from which Colombia requires a visitor, migrant or residential visa also frequent the consulate. Cecilia Tirado Abad, who oversees travel visas, says Cubans residing in the US and Haitians come for visitor visas, though US citizens don’t need a visa to stay less than 90 days.
Colombian consuls general stay here a maximum of four years, during which Mr. Valencia plans to improve service as he sees “where the gaps exist and how can we close those gaps.”

The immediate next step focuses on readjusting operating hours. He also plans to encourage more visitors to come by appointment, registering on the consulate’s webpage, as opposed to just walking in.

“People that do not come with an appointment tend to wait two to three hours, depending on the amount of appointments,” he explained.
The two-year goal is to kick start Más y Mejores, or More and Better, an online service that lets visitors apply for certain documents through a webpage administered by the consulate as opposed to traveling there, saving, for example, a 6½-hour roundtrip from Sarasota. He also plans to allow more services to be paid with debit and credit cards, decreasing the use of money orders.

“I want to leave the consulate with a solid structure and control, a satellite that is easy to govern,” Mr. Valencia said. “Second, I want to convene the community, that we Colombian nationals living abroad and working together can have better results.”

Mr. Valencia will be looking at results of the 2020 US Census as a marker for crafting further strategies, to gauge what Colombians residing in Florida need. He’s urging all Colombians, even the undocumented, to reply to the census, which is confidential, even barring US government agencies or courts from seeing an individual’s responses. The Census Bureau confirms it uses the information solely for statistical purposes.

Americas Community Center founder and Colombian national Fabio A. Andrade predicts the census will report 1 million Colombians dwelling in Florida, with about 20% undocumented. He said he understands from a recent poll that immigration is a major problem among current Colombian residents.

“That tells us that there is an immigration issue due to the fact that it is not popular to talk about the undocumented,” Mr. Andrade said. “We have an issue with narcotics and persecution and the terrorists in Colombia continues to pursue people [yet] it is no longer recognized by the United States as political asylum. They are in limbo in regards to their immigration status.”

Consulate officials also report a growing trend of Colombians having dual Venezuelan citizenship and trying to renounce their Colombian citizenship, assuming that as Venezuelans they’ll be granted political asylum.

Mr. Andrade says that assumption is wrong: “I did not know that was happening. It has been identified at the consulate. That is a concern that we have, to make sure people understand that is not really going to be a given that you are going to be a Venezuelan and that you are going to get political asylum, because Venezuelans are not getting political asylum. They are getting a temporary delay on their process to be able to do it.”

Mr. Valencia looks forward to an accurate census headcount next year, but in the meantime looks at how to best marry technology and consular services. He looks at the examples of other consulates in Miami, listing up to four field trips thus far. He searches out consulates that have a high number of visitors and technological services.

“The purpose,” he said, “is to learn how they offer their services, what good practices we can adapt from them, and what good practices we can share with them.”

The post Colombia’s envoy in Miami eyes technology appeared first on Miami Today.

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Miami Today by Miami Today - 3d ago

Below are some of the FYIs in this week’s edition. The entire content of this week’s FYIs and Insider sections is available by subscription only. To subscribe click here.

NO AIRPORT CLUBS VOTE: A 10-year lease agreement between Miami-Dade and American Airlines for two VIP clubs at Miami International Airport isn’t yet final, as county commissioners last week deferred an item, sponsored by Rebeca Sosa, to approve the new deal with the air carrier and retroactively expand its Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge at the hub’s North Terminal gates D-15 and D-30. Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt wrote in an accompanying memo that the airline needed to expand its space by more than 52% to accommodate its clubs’ offerings and “provide a more elegant and modern customer experience.” The lease terms provide that American will pay the county no less than $80 million in rent over a decade as well as 18% of monthly gross liquor sales revenue, 10% of gross sales from other amenities not directly provided by the aviation department and a 35% “opportunity fee” charge for non-member passengers who buy day passes to the clubs. No date is listed for when commissioners will next consider the item, which last month cleared the county’s tourism committee by a 5-0 vote.

TACKLING SALES TAX: The Florida House last week approved a proposal that would make it harder to raise local sales taxes. The House voted 69-44 to pass a measure that targets local sales-tax referendums. Under the bill, sales-tax ballot proposals would have to be approved by two-thirds of voters, up from the current majority. Also, such referendums would have to be held at the time of general elections instead of in lower-turnout elections.

NO “PERSONAL FAVORS”: When an elected official asks a city employee for a personal favor, he or she is “exploiting” his or her official position, according to probable cause findings by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust against El Portal Mayor Claudia Cubillos. According to an April 10 release from the office, Ms. Cubillos’ request that a village code enforcement officer use his personal vehicle to move a piano being donated to her private daycare center was an ethics violation. “Because the ‘favor’ occurred after hours and did not involve the use of village property, Mayor Cubillos stipulated to probable cause and agreed to waive a hearing,” the release stated, adding that while the commission dismissed the complaint, it ordered Ms. Cubillos to pay $500 in investigative costs and accept a letter of instruction.

GAS PRICES UP: Miami gas prices rose 3 cents per gallon on average last week to average $2.79 per gallon on Monday,  according to GasBuddy price tracking service. That’s up 11.8 cents per gallon in the past month and 10.9 cents per gallon in the past year. AAA-The Auto Club Group said prices are now at their 2019 high.

The post FYI Miami: April 18, 2019 appeared first on Miami Today.

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No Miami-Dade corridor suffers more hours of intense traffic than the Mac-Arthur Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach. Think weekends and late nights, not just rush hours. Nowhere is need greater for rapid transit.

So Miami commissioners’ vote last week to join Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County to create cross-bay rapid transit was on point. That need has been apparent for decades. After all, ways to cross the bay are few.

To quote one government report: “A light rail line operating between the Cities of Miami Beach and Miami will offer both transportation and development benefits to the area. Transportation benefits will accrue to both residents and tourists/convention attendees.”

Miami Beach issued that report 31 years ago this month. And for 31 years, almost everyone has agreed something must be done, right now, to link the two cities with reliable rapid transit.

Even the decision to unite faltered three years ago, when Miami Beach fiercely pulled out of an agreement and decided to go it alone, then found it couldn’t and sheepishly wandered back into the fold.

Now Miami has signed on, agreeing to work with the county and Miami Beach. With all on board, all that remains are simply to decide where the route will go, what the transit method will be, where the money will come from, who will own and operate the system, when it will be built, and how it will link up with all the other modes of transit to make travel from one area to another as seamless as possible. In this case, “simply” is anything but simple.

Moreover, the Miami-Miami Beach route isn’t alone. It’s one of six corridors in the Smart Plan to stitch the county together with rapid, modern transit. And Baylink, to use the old nickname, isn’t at the head of the line: the Transportation Planning Organization, which plans mobility in this county, has voted to start with South Dade.

That’s fair enough: the South Dade connector will run on a current busway, so nobody has to agree on a corridor and government already owns it. Starting there is easiest.

A major difficulty with six corridors is that they could have transit modes that don’t mesh with one another or with the county’s existing transit. That makes seamless seem less likely.

Whether or not the routes connect, reaching agreements that go beyond the need for a link from Miami to Miami Beach and into the more difficult choices of transit modes, routes, costs, financing options, rights of way and timing will be prickly. Every commissioner and mayor in both cities and the county knows the “right” answer to most of the questions. It’s just that each one has different answers. So do many residents.

Think about mode of travel alone. Is it to be light rail? Express bus? Monorail? At grade or overhead? Personal rapid transit carrying two to four passengers per vehicle? Over land solely or partly over water? Lots of choices, all with proponents.

Probably lots of “right” answers, too.

But it has to be one choice for everything from mode to route to financing to ownership to timing. Then we have to consider the fragile bay environment, and the right of way that transit will share with the causeway’s auto traffic.

And on the Beach side, what happens when transit reaches Alton Road at Fifth Street (the preferred entry)? Does the line keep rolling north to the Miami Beach Convention Center? Or farther up the Beach?

All these points will be talked to death, as they have been for three decades plus. Which is why we didn’t have Baylink shortly after the 1988 Miami Beach report called for it. If we’d built it then, it would have been used for three decades already and be fully paid for.

Instead, traffic grows worse and worse, new attractions on Watson Island aren’t served by transit, Miami Beach parking is choked, a new convention center isn’t properly served, and we’re just getting around to formally agreeing to unite to find a way to meet an ever-growing need.

We can’t undo history, including the years that some on Miami Beach didn’t really want transit because it might bring in too many people – which happened anyway.

Now we need to build on near-total agreement on the need for better mobility.

The best way is to accept what might not meet everyone’s ideal picture of the “best” way to link the Beach and the mainland.

Other than connectivity, we’d accept a second choice of mode, route, financing or whatever rather than wait for an ideal choice that for decades has always been lurking just down the road.

The time for waiting is long gone. We know better technology will come along in a decade. Maybe by that time the Chinese will want to build us a system (or by then it could be Koreans or Germans or you name them). Maybe by then the US government will be funding 95% of every mass transit project.

If we wait, any of those things might be true. Or they might not. But one thing would certainly be true: we’d have lost another decade in the interim.

Waiting time is over – it should have been over in 1988. With everyone on board with the concept, it should be full steam ahead to a solution.

And, no, we don’t need dozens of town hall meetings or 20 resident surveys as to what they want or more charrettes or three more planning firms or to ask “Mother may I?”

Studies are already piled up, including the 1988 Miami Beach report, which wasn’t half bad. Why can’t the Transportation Planning Organization give itself, say, four months to make firm choices of basics and move forward? Even so, it would take years to have a Baylink, but we have to start sometime if we plan to have one ever.

Either that, or in 31 years someone will be looking at last week’s vote in Miami and asking pointedly why nobody ever did anything.

The post How much longer before we actually start to build Baylink? appeared first on Miami Today.

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Miami Today by Miami Today - 3d ago

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