Miami Highway Plan is Completely Reckless

Will Miami-Dade County okay a 13-mile highway through the Everglades? Image: Transit Alliance Miami
Will Miami-Dade County okay a 13-mile highway through the Everglades? Image: Transit Alliance Miami

Miami is on the verge of doubling down on the bad planning decisions that have made it such a traffic nightmare.

On Thursday, the Miami-Dade County Commission will vote on whether to proceed with building a 13-mile highway through the Everglades that opponents say imperils the region’s drinking water and vulnerable coastal areas, and will help cement a sprawling growth pattern and near-total dependence on highways only to dump more traffic onto the already-congested State Route 836, or the “Dolphin Expressway.”

The proposal to extend the 836 along the western border of Miami’s developed area is being championed by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and by County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The highway will go beyond Miami-Dade’s urban growth boundary into sensitive environmental areas like the Bird Drive Basin, which was set aside to replenish the Everglades National Park.

The Expressway Authority spent $150,000 of taxpayer money to advertise the plan, but the agency hasn’t even finalized the route of the highway, plus other important details, before the consequential vote, the Miami Herald reported.

The lack of certainty about the highway’s position has neutralized protests from homeowners groups in the West Kendall area, according to the Herald. 

In addition, no alternatives to the highway extension have been officially explored by Miami-Dade. The county has only considered the highway extension in two alignments, one closer to the residential areas, and another further into the wetlands. No consideration of transit was offered at all.

Transit Alliance Miami says light rail or bus rapid transit — which would offer commuters an alternative to highway gridlock — could be built for a fraction of the proposed $650-million highway price tag. And better transportation infrastructure would spur development of walkable communities, which would delay calls for future highway widenings. 

Oppositions group including Transit Alliance, 1000 Friends of Florida, Friends of the Everglades and others have asked County Commissioners postpone the decision until alternatives have been studied.

“It’s not ready for a finally decision,” Marta Viciedo of Transit Alliance Miami told Streetsblog. “I don’t know how you are a final decision on something that’s so potentially destructive and you don’t have all the information.

“There is really no ideal solution to be completely honest,” she added. “It’s a problem of our poor planning. You can’t solve the problem by applying the same thinking that got us here in the first one.”

  • Stephen Simac

    South Florida traffic engineers have never seen a highway plan they didn’t wholeheartedly support, bigger the better. I remember being in the Florida DOT regional director’s office in the early 80’s to lobby for bicycle facilities (this is when I was still an advocate for separate but unequal bike paths, and bike lanes added to roadways=not carved from them). He had an enormous artist’s rendering of their vision for a U.S. 1 cloverleaf overpass into the Broward county airport and then non-existent I-585 expressway from nearby Port Everglades into the Everglades. Fifteen years later their vision became reality. No matter how much asphalt they pave to “improve traffic”, gridlock still grows, but they seem to have never heard of induced demand. This reminds me of Miami’s Everglades Jetport plans in the 70’s, which revitalized the south Florida environmental resistance.

  • Elizabeth F

    Miami has bigger problems they need to face… what is the predicted useful lifetime of infrastructure in this location?

    https://www.businessinsider.com/map-of-miami-when-sea-levels-rise-2014-4

  • juliosnoop1717

    This is an absolutely awful move. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” How many expressways has South Florida built with the exact same premise of “congestion relief”? How many have actually accomplished that? A region that has dragged its feet for decades on any meaningful transit expansion, or even sustainable urban planning land use policy, continues to make all the wrong moves. It’s hard to believe how stuck in their ways local officials are, and then they wonder how congestion, and lack of alternative options, got so bad. And I haven’t even touched the UDB environmental concerns, and the likelihood that this is a bait and switch for suburban developers.

  • qatzelok

    This is obviously not the best transit project. But perhaps the people proposing it really don’t car. In Montreal, we’ve been investigating mafia involvement in our construction industry. Has Miami (or Florida) ever done the same? Are these highway projects just a welfare program for well-connected highway construction “families?”

  • jcwconsult

    Since the great majority of citizens commute, shop, visit, etc. by car and not by transit because it is quicker, more private, suits multi-stop trips, and not tied to any particular schedules – it is appropriate that they are served by proper roadways.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Frank Kotter

    Quicker? Been a while since you’ve spent time in the cluster which is metro Miami, eh, Jim? I good thing you didn’t list ‘safer’. Even for you that would have been a bridge too far…..

  • William Lawson

    “Quicker” lol…..good one

  • Stephen Simac

    This particular freeway will contaminate Miami’s freshwater supplies, so not appropriate simply by environmental common sense.It will not serve the “great majority” of citizens, because few live there now, mostly grandfathered in, although they would like to edge further out into their flood zones.

  • Stephen Simac

    thanks for your link, however that map seriously underestimates what parts of Florida would be underwater with a 2 meter water rise, looks more like what a six inch increase would do.

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