By Dana Goldman, Commissioner
(March 5, 2015) – There is always a price to pay for success. Our city’s price is traffic congestion. As we have grown from ‘motel row’ to ‘luxury community’, traffic has grown with us. It’s time to take a comprehensive look at this problem so we can continue to grow together.
Our oceanfront is seeing a new wave of residential development. More and more of the expected new residents will be living here full time instead of just seasonally.
The west side of Collins Avenue also is undergoing changes, albeit at a slower pace and with mostly commercial development.
The net effect will be more vehicles on our city’s major roadways and interior streets. As a result, we must plan for our immediate future, but also for 10 and even 20 years down the road.
We obviously need to keep traffic flowing safely and avoid gridlock. Equally important, however, we also must ensure that pedestrians — especially children — can move around our city safely.
I want to be clear that our city’s elected leadership and administration has been dutifully working on addressing our traffic problems. They have made tangible progress that predates my tenure on the City Commission, particularly in the area of pedestrian safety and mobility. Currently in the works are:
- A new pedestrian and bicycle only bridge over west-bound 163rd Street from a point east of North Bay Road to the new Gateway Park. The bridge will be completed by this fall.
- A new pedestrian and emergency vehicle only bridge connecting North Bay Road from 174 Street to 172 Street is in the bidding process. The bridge will provide safe passage to the city’s community school and parks by avoiding Collins Avenue for a significant number of our population.
- Two locations for additional pedestrian bridges over Collins Avenue have been identified, one at City Hall connecting to the Trump Hotel beach access, and the other on the south side of 174th Street connecting with Samson Oceanfront Park.
In the coming months, we will be focusing on other policy initiatives to keep pedestrians safe. Specifically:
- Commission a comprehensive, city-wide traffic study to identify and provide recommendations for improvements.
- Put more pressure on the Florida Department of Transportation and Miami-Dade County, which control our major roadways, to speed up and expand improvements.
- Push legislation to prohibit commercial vehicles on our major roadways from idling or otherwise blocking traffic.
- Where practical, add more crosswalks and request the Florida Department of Transportation to reconsider signalization to allow pedestrians the exclusive right-of-way to cross safely.
Finally, I believe we must look beyond conventional solutions. To that end, I understand that many years ago there were pedestrian tunnels under Collins Avenue and possibly elsewhere. I fully realize the logistical and engineering hurdles involved today with all the underground utilities and subsurface conditions to consider pedestrian tunnels as a viable solution. However, we owe it to current and future residents to explore all of our options, not just the easy ones.
As always, I welcome your feedback and input. Please contact me at 305-792-1700 or [email protected]