State may pay to narrow boulevard
Written by Catherine Lackner on July 21, 2015
Miami’s Downtown Development Authority has requested $1 million from the Florida Department of Transportation to kick-start Biscayne Green, its ambitious project to narrow a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard from Northeast Eighth Street south to Biscayne Boulevard Way.
Biscayne Green aims to reduce driving lanes to create a grand promenade with grass, trees, street furniture and other features to link Biscayne Bay and Bayfront Park to downtown.
The authority will know in about a month if the grant has been approved, said Eric Riel Jr., leader of the authority’s planning, design and transportation team.
If that effort doesn’t succeed, “We’ll look at other sources of funding; we’re making a list of them,” Mr. Riel said. They could include public-private partnerships, other funding from the state or the federal government, or contributions from private organizations that support beautification projects or those that promote pedestrian and bicyclist safety, he said. But, he added, the state’s transportation department “is our best bet.” Projects are funded in five-year cycles, and the authority can apply again next year.
Biscayne Green would incorporate some parking but shave spaces from 388 to 187, at an annual revenue loss to the Miami Parking Authority of $1.2 million. It would replace a shared bicycle lane with a dedicated one and widen sidewalks. The cost for the medians was estimated at $24 million.
A City of Miami traffic study concluded traffic impact would be minimal once the lanes were closed, authority documents noted.
For the project to move forward, the authority must get the Florida Department of Transportation to agree to reduce the lanes, then work with the parking authority to trim the parking spaces and reconfigure what’s left. The plan calls for some parking to be available at off-peak times only. The authority must also enlist the help of Miami-Dade County to redesign the intersections, develop a phasing plan, then submit construction documents to all relevant agencies. It is also the authority’s task to identify and secure funding for it all.