force weighs solutions to downtown traffic snarls
a tunnel beneath the Miami River, dredging the river deeper and finding
ways to reroute traffic to avoid drawbridges are among the solutions city
and county officials will consider to unsnarl downtown Miami's tangled
new $630,000 downtown transportation master plan, guided by Miami City
Commissioner Johnny Winton and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro,
will attempt to weave together disparate downtown interests to find some
task force was prompted by traffic issues created on both sides of river,"
says Megan Kelly, senior vice president for Swire Properties, who also
sits on the master plan task force.
became clear that all of downtown is in need of a comprehensive look at
traffic and transportation problems generated by the construction boom.
I think their [the task force's] scope of work is massive."
"What I think it does," Mr. Winton said, "is accomplish
something which has been desperately needed for 30 years, based on our
vision of what we think our community will look like 20 years. All the
transportation gurus say you can't develop a plan beyond 20 years out."
group issued a request for proposals for a consultant and is in the process
of hiring a consultant from among six applicants. He or she will be hired
by October, said Alfredo Gonzalez, an aide to Commissioner Barreiro.
formed a task force stakeholders in the downtown area - people who work
downtown, river people and so on - and they're going to be looking at
developing a transportation model," said David Miller, Miami River
Commission managing director and member of the group. "The task force
is looking at ways to do a better job of planning."
new Brickell Avenue bridge, opened in 1996, hasn't eased congestion along
that roadway as much as expected and has left both motorists and marine
interests dissatisfied, Mr Miller said.
lot of people felt that traffic moved better on Brickell Avenue when the
bridge was under construction," he quipped. Though the bridge was
raised about eight feet, that height difference is immaterial to most
of the large ships that pass through it, Mr. Miller said. And, through
the new bridge opened 30% less frequently than its predecessor in the
first year of operation, bridge openings continue to snarl traffic on
across the river on Southwest Second Avenue and Northwest 12th Avenue,
"the lowest bridge on the river," are now slated for replacement,
and Mr. Miller said, and hopefully will be lifted higher than the Brickell
- such as the tunnel and the dredging effort - are being investigated
as a means to solve the conflict between shipping and car traffic.
Coast Guard, in cooperation with the marine community and with the town
people, has allowed bridges to stay in the closed position during the
morning and evening rush hours," Mr. Miller said. At all other times,
the bridges open on demand. "Right now it seems to work for vehicles
but not as well with marine interests."
ships can't get out to meet the tides, "they may be delayed, which
raises their cost of doing business," he explained.
with a $75-80 million price tag, is being considered to make the river
more navigable, he said.
along the river "is very active in trying to get the river dredged,"
river is closing in from side to side and it's getting to be unsafe for
navigation," Mr. Miller said. The project is being undertaken for
both economic and environmental reasons. "There's a high degree of
contamination from petroleum products and storm water from urban Miami,"
federal government will foot the bill for 80% of the dredging project,
with the State of Florida, Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami and the
Florida Inland Navigation District paying for the remainder, he said.
Army Corps of Engineers will complete the project, which will take two
to five years and is expected to remove one million cubic yards of sediment
from the sides and center line of the channel.
long-discussed tunnel was originally planned to replace the Southwest
Second Avenue bridge, said Mr. Gonzalez, Commissioner Barriero's aide,
really too late in the process there, so they're looking at other places
along the river."
the funding was in line and the state already had a lot to risk in the
Second Avenue Bridge replacement," Commissioner Winton confirmed.
"So, with all due credit to county, state and city planners, we agreed
that the planning departments would meet and try to find an alternate,
better location" for the tunnel, which he calls "absolutely
sites are under consideration but no decision has been made he said
on dry land, the task force will also consider better signage to direct
visitors through the sometimes-puzzling maze of streets connecting to
Avenue is also U.S. 1," Mr. Miller pointed out, "So many people
who should use a different route probably get directed to Brickell. There's
a lot of room for improvement. The roadway system signage sometimes directs
you to a bridge that you don't want to go over and the one-way traffic
puts you in line for that bridge."
Commissioner Johnny Winton (305) 250-5333, Commissioner Bruno Barreiro,