On October 23 at The Falls mall, Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works held a workshop on the South Corridor Transit Project to both educate the public and solicit input.
With dozens of presentation boards and eight education stations, the public walked around and spoke to County and FDOT representatives, as well as several consulting companies. District 8 County Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava also spent time chatting with some of the approximately 200 people who ventured out during the two-hour workshop.
The public was encouraged to take notes and then turn in their comments to eager representatives who tallied input. Primary to the workshop was how to utilize the TransitWay between Dadeland and SW 344th Street. Do we use more efficient buses, change to rail (either partially-raised or at street level), use autonomous (driverless) technology or even use individual vehicles that can electronically meet up and travel like a train? Budgets for the various choices ranged from hundreds of millions to well over a billion dollars.
Besides budgets and the length of time that each project would take to complete, items like safety and the impact on our already congested roadways need to be considered.
That left some to wonder if the County’s goals weren’t contrive. Vocal Cutler Bay resident and retired engineer Steve Zarzecki added, “Engineers find the information to get something done and in my trained mind the County has limited the public’s input to four choices and that introduces bias. Viable alternatives are missing and people will choose from just the four and not know there may be better solutions out there.” Zarzecki, who was appointed to serve on the public advisory group, went on to say he believes in an alternative all-raised rail system is not even being considered.
Palmetto Bay resident Don Waters, who owns property adjacent to the TransitWay at 186th Street, thought the County was doing a great job communicating with the public. “Any change to the current transportation system can have a profound impact on nearby property values, so this is a concern to me and should be to everyone.” Waters added, “Only 3-5% of the population will ever use public transportation. We need to make sure the rest of us don’t see negative impact to our already horrible traffic.”
Public activist Peter England, a Palmetto Bay resident, disappointedly said, “While my hopes were high for engaging public comment on this critical project, I came away with the feeling that this was an exercise mandated by the funding sources, and that DTPW had no intention of considering the public input which was provided. I am not cynical by nature, but I believe the County has abused my time once too often.”
The complexity of this project is well beyond the scope of this article, but if you want to dig further, make sure to go to www.miamismartplan.com for tons more details.