Will Miami’s Metrorail shade a linear park?
Written by John Charles Robbins on June 18, 2014
Imagine a linear green oasis extending miles through the county, from the urban core southwestward to Dadeland.
One group has not only imagined it, members are hard at work to see that it becomes a reality.
The Friends of the GreenLink met with Miami city commissioners to explain what the GreenLink proposal is all about. They left the May 22 commission meet with overwhelming support for the venture.
Working with Miami-Dade County Parks and Transit departments, the Friends of the GreenLink are driving the initiative to transform the land underneath the Metrorail into a contiguous 10-mile walking/ biking/ exercise path and linear park, from Brickell Station to Dadeland South Station.
“We want to be a catalyst for a world-class linear park and trail,” said Meg Daly, founder, president and director of the Friends of the GreenLink. That entails starting with the ambitious goal of creating a 10-mile trail and linear park, then finding other connections throughout the community to link into a network of greenways, she told commissioners.
The Metrorail system is a 25-mile dual track, elevated rapid transit system.
The friends group wants to “transform” the land under the Metro, she told the city commission, starting with the stretch from Brickell to Dadeland South.
Friends of the GreenLink is a non-profit with 501(c)3 status. Members share the common goal “of making our community more connected, beautiful, and healthy, while responsibly growing its future economic base.”
The friends group says its members include leaders in the Miami-Dade County Parks & Recreation and Miami-Dade County Transit departments, architects and urban planners, biking advocates, public relations and marketing experts, professionals in law and accounting, real estate developers and more.
Ms. Daly said her group has received a lot of community support, which is “exciting” to see.
“We struggle in our urban setting to expand public parks,” said Commissioner Francis Suarez, who supported a resolution backing the GreenLink plan. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do more… and this may help make that vision happen.”
Chairman Wifredo “Willy” Gort and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff also spoke highly of the plan to green the Metro corridor.
Mr. Gort called the plan “dynamic” and said he’d like it expanded north through Overtown and Allapattah neighbors bisected by the Metrorail. “Those areas need it more… I’d like to see you expand it,” he said.
The city’s resolution supporting the GreenLink initiative says it will “provide a world-class mobility corridor with widened, straightened paths and improved crosswalks that protect the users.”
The resolution mentions benefits to be realized by the project, noting that similar initiatives such as the High Line in New York City saw property values adjacent to the once-abandoned rail greatly increased.
Land contiguous to the Metrorail is of lesser value than properties just two blocks off the rail line, says the resolution, “and introduction of a linear park greatly improves the value of contiguous and adjacent properties.”
The GreenLink will attract and boost ridership along the entire GreenLink track and attract more riders to the transit stations within the city, says the resolution.
And finally, the commission recognized that economic, social, health and environmental benefits could be gained from the GreenLink.
The City of Coral Gables also recently endorsed the GreenLink.
Stated goals of the friends group include:
•To increase Metrorail ridership – by enticing and encouraging auto commuters to use Metrorail as a healthy, economical and efficient alternative to driving.
•To encourage exercise – 400,000 residents within one-half mile of the G-Line will be able to safely walk, ride and recreate in an urban environment.
•To increase public green space – by transforming currently underutilized land or “Red Fields to Green Fields” into regenerated natural, native habitats and new public assets.
•To provide an economic impact – an estimated $800 million annually.
•To reimagine US 1 – from a congested road just for cars into a corridor that moves people from their homes to business, whether driving, riding Metrorail, walking or biking.
•To connect communities – with a safe, accessible and beautiful greenway along one of Miami-Dade County’s most-heavily traveled roads.
•To collaborate openly and transparently with county residents, public servants, donors, stakeholders, volunteers and vendors.
The University of Miami School of Architecture offered university resources to develop a conceptual plan, the friends group said.
The organization said it is seeking both public and private funding. Members aim to get the planning phase funded first, then construction. Eventually the group plans an endowment for maintenance and programming of the GreenLink.
Details: firstname.lastname@example.org and http://thegreenlink.org.