Four major stations planned for East-West rapid transit
An updated presentation of the East-West Corridor of the Miami-Dade Smart Plan this week revealed county Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) intentions to begin with the project, develop four major stations, and improve surrounding areas with smaller projects of affordable housing, retail, office, hotel, and parking garages.
The corridor is to link the Tamiami Terminal to Downtown Miami via Dolphin Terminal and the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) at Miami International Airport.
Last October, a Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) resolution selected Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as the preferred carrier mode. Since then, DTPW authorities have been working on the proposal for development.
At the Sept. 20 TPO Transportation Planning Council Meeting, a representative of WSP consulting firm explained that under the updated proposal, small projects could be developed in vacant areas nearby.
The Northwest 107th Avenue (close to the Florida Department of Transportation, District Six headquarters) and the Northwest 97th Avenue (close to 12th Street car dealers) stations are focused on service to the business area due to their proximity to the Dolphin and International malls, but also to the heavily residential area.
For the surroundings of Northwest 107th Avenue station, residential developments were proposed in a vacant area with some retail, office, and parking garage developments. For the Northwest 97th Avenue proximities, office, flex space, and parking garage spaces were suggested.
The Northwest Seventh Street station, nicknamed The Wedge, mainly targets affordable housing in the vicinity areas, and it is a space that has been connected to the Mall of the Americas on the west side of the Palmetto through a new street connecting Seventh Street, and to the east of this site is the 72nd Avenue, which runs on the west end of the airport.
The site was described by a WSP representative at the meeting as an “ideal place for the workforce for affordable housing.” But the Northwest Seventh Street station is on a parcel that the Florida Department of Transportation has been studying for freight and truck travel parking and potentially would continue to be studied by state authorities, a conflict of interests that Francisco Arbelaez, DTPW project manager, acknowledged at the meeting.
The 42nd Avenue station has a commercial approach. Its proximity to the airport’s flight paths creates limitations for the development of affordable housing so a modest retail, office, and hotel component was proposed.
A total of 10 stations are listed in the October 2020 Executive Summary and Phasing Strategy of DTPW: Tamiami Terminal, Dolphin Terminal, 107th Avenue, 97th Avenue, 87th Avenue, Mall of the Americas, 72nd Avenue at 12th Street, Seventh Street at Milam Dairy Road, The Wedge (Southeast corner of SR 826/Palmetto Expressway and Northwest Seventh Street), Seventh Street at 62nd Avenue, 57th Avenue at 12th Street, LeJeune Road/Northwest 42nd Avenue, and Miami International Airport/MIC.
An updated budget and phasing were not presented at the meeting, but an Oct. 22, 2020, presentation DTPW made at the Transportation Planning Organization Governing Board details a Phase 1 proposal – BRT Route 1 Tamiami to MIC and Route 2 Tamiami to Downtown with an estimated capital cost of about $265 million. A Phase 2 BRT from Dolphin to MIC would have an estimated capital cost of $153 million.
Along with the four selected station areas, DTPW and consultant WSP presented recommendations to add nearly 70 miles of bicycle infrastructure and over 10 miles of sidewalks and multi-use paths.
Other proposals include: Designate station areas as Pedestrian Priority Zones; Designate all county-owned land (parcels greater than one acre) within half a mile of the corridor as Rapid Transit Zone; Encourage municipalities to promote affordable housing developments at transit-oriented developments; and implement required improvements identified by the Water and Sewer Department for each transit-oriented development site, including new pump stations, plus water and sewer extensions.