Reversible lanes may be quick, cheap fix as Smart plan stalls
While awaiting lengthy environmental studies to OK Miami-Dade’s rapid transit SMART plan, the county Transportation Planning Organization is looking at reversible lanes as a quick, cheap way to alleviate peak hours traffic. Despite Florida Department of Transportation pushback, TPO Executive Policy Committee Chairwoman and County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa prioritized Southwest Eighth Street for reversible lanes.
“I’m not saying ‘no’ to getting money for infrastructure,” Ms. Sosa said, “but in the meantime, there are a lot of good ideas we can do that don’t cost millions of dollars. Using reversible lanes is the most realistic solution.”
Reversible lanes can move traffic in either direction, depending on the hour of day and direction of traffic flow. Overhead signals similar to traffic lights display either a green arrow or red cross to direct traffic. During peak traffic hours, reversible lanes can improve traffic flow in a single direction.
“We talk about getting millions of dollars for this and that, but what are we doing now? Nothing,” Ms. Sosa said.
Ms. Sosa said reversible lanes are cheap: “The only cost is to install the directional arrows where the traffic lights are. Come on.”
At the TPO committee last week, members discussed Southwest Eighth Street as the preferred location.
Ms. Sosa said the middle turning lane could be a dedicated reversible lane, and the rights-of-way after the turnpike also have “an incredible amount of space,” to help direct traffic flow.
Medley Mayor Roberto Martell, a committee voting member, agreed, saying the county needs a variety of solutions to reduce traffic.
“There have been studies,” Mr. Martell said, “so let’s stop talking about it and get it done.”
TPO Executive Director Aileen Bouclé said reversible lanes have been studied in the county since 1992, with the most recent study by the TPO in 2016.
The TPO and the Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works Department “have a mutual understanding” about the rollout of reversible lanes on Southwest Eighth Street, Ms. Bouclé said, but “it’s an issue with the local [FDOT] district office.”
Ms. Sosa said that she has spoken with FDOT District Six Secretary James Wolfe, and FDOT says there is no need for reversible lanes there.
“He says that in Tallahassee they did studies and it is unnecessary,” Ms. Sosa said. “I said, ‘Sir, bring the people from Tallahassee here and sit them in every corner of this county every time we have a peak hour of traffic.’”
“I’m going to keep fighting for this because it’s not expensive and it is a realistic and safe method,” Ms. Sosa said.
It may be difficult to introduce reversible lanes on Southwest Eighth Street into the discussion, Ms. Bouclé said, as FDOT is already contemplating improvements to the street and reversible lanes aren’t being considered.
“Let’s give them a chance to understand that we want reversible lanes,” Ms. Sosa said. “It’s easy to live in Tallahassee and not deal with the [traffic] problems we deal with every day. They’re not letting us bring in our own solutions.”
Ms. Sosa told Ms. Bouclé that the county commission is at her disposal as she negotiates with FDOT: “Tell me what you need and we will do it.”