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Front Page » Government » Trying again for grand promenade on Biscayne Boulevard

Trying again for grand promenade on Biscayne Boulevard

Written by on April 19, 2016
Trying again for grand promenade on Biscayne Boulevard

Turned down in October for $1 million in Florida Department of Transportation funding for the Biscayne Green project to build a grand promenade on Biscayne Boulevard, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority has re-applied to the department, said Eric Riel, Jr., leader of the authority’s planning, design, and transportation team, at last week’s authority board meeting.

But authority directors are frustrated that so little progress has been made on the project, which has been on the drawing boards since 2010. Biscayne Green aims to reduce driving lanes from eight to four or six from Biscayne Boulevard Way to Northeast Eighth Street and replace them with grass, trees, street furniture and other features that will link Biscayne Bay and Bayfront Park to downtown.

“Can we get some sort of game plan?” asked board member Richard Lydecker, who is senior partner of the Lydecker-Diaz law firm. “We have studies, but no results. I don’t feel we’re moving forward.”

The authority has hired local and Tallahassee lobbyists who should be able to cut through the state agency’s red tape and get the project going, he added.

“We talk and talk, but nothing is accomplished,” said board member Alan Ojeda, who is president of Rilea Development Group. “We do another study. I think this is a big problem we have; I don’t see things getting done.”

“We’re an authority with no authority,” said Alyce Robertson, executive director. She acknowledged that the state transportation department is “not easy to deal with,” but said that part of the fault lies in government agencies, which don’t communicate well.

“I’d be happy if we just got a ‘no.’ Then we could stop talking and take it off the list. But we’re not moving down the field at all,” Mr. Lydecker said.

Actually, Biscayne Green didn’t get a “no” in October but was outranked by other projects that were chosen for funding, said Ivette Ruiz-Paz, spokesperson for the transportation department’s District 6, at that time.

“After an intensive evaluation process in collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Evaluation Committee, the Biscayne Green project ranked No. 16 out of 34 applications received from local agencies in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties,” she explained.

“Our role at the DDA is to be the squeaky wheel,” said authority Vice Chair Neisen Kasdin, who is office managing shareholder of Akerman LLP, at last week’s meeting. “We need to get in the agency’s face. It takes pursuit, follow-up, and documentation. Staff needs to push the boulder uphill.”

Mr. Kasdin, who chairs the authority’s Flagler Street Task Force, said the long-awaited project finally broke ground this year because the committee demanded updates from the City of Miami every second week.

“This is clearly too slow,” said authority Chair Ken Russell, who is a Miami city commissioner. “We need to have a point person, and we need a bullet list” to determine where the bottlenecks are, and who to contact to get around them.

“This is primarily a staff function,” Mr. Kasdin said. “But if we’re paying a lobbyist, use them.”

5 Responses to Trying again for grand promenade on Biscayne Boulevard

  1. DC Copeland

    April 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

    I don’t have to be an “expert” on any “authority”– especially an “authority with no authority”– to know that removing just a single lane of traffic from Biscayne Blvd is madness. May I suggest this plan instead: Remove the center rows of parking and extend Bayfront Park westward using the same amount of space that was once allotted to parking. Here’s a picture of Bayfront park as it is now: This is how it would look with the parking removed while still keeping the same amount of traffic lanes: In this plan, you have given the park more acreage and shielded it from the sounds of the street with berms and, most importantly, stunning royal poinciana trees.

  2. Elliot Adams

    April 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Downtown Miami is FULL of “eyesore streets and thoroughfares” that are begging to be repaired and improved. Biscayne Boulevard as it is today stands as a gem when compared with almost all of Downtown Miami’s streets. I hate it when the so called “leaders” in this town find ways of wasting money on unnecessary projects. To our so-called civic leaders: “Biscayne Boulevard is not broken, so don’t call yourselves trying to fix it”. Downtown Miami has many, many eyesore priorities that can use that money.

    • David

      April 21, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      So true! Fix our public transportation and traffic issues. Reducing driving lanes that are already landscaped is not the answer. Biscayne Boulevard is US1, a major thoroughfare through our downtown. 2 lanes of traffic in each direction will not solve our traffic nightmares. Taking people and cars off the streets will. We need smarter politicians

  3. Oscar

    April 22, 2016 at 2:37 am

    We don’t need to get rid of lanes. What kills walkability there are the lack of crosswalks and the atrocious surface lots in the middle of our “grand” avenue. Add a crosswalk at each intersection and replace those lots with activated green space, some of which can be dedicated to a bike lane. This plan, along with the renderings presented last year, seem to overcomplicate the project and set it up for failure. It’s my understanding that the surface lots are under city control so we wouldn’t even need to go through the state for anything except maybe the crosswalks.

  4. Dave

    May 18, 2016 at 8:25 am

    All great cities have their grand boulevards.
    The ‘Champ de Elysee’ in Paris or ‘La Rambla’ in Barcelona. This project could transform Miami’s downtown waterfront into an amazing destination.