Monday, January 8, 2018

Commissioner Cava issues her decision. She is NOT supportive of the 87th Avenue bridge. She will continue to work to find solutions for all.

Update from County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava on the 87th Avenue bridge issue:

Thank you Commissioner Cava.  Our Commissioner has determined that she cannot support construction of the bridge at this time.

This is not to merely a "no".  Commissioner Cava is committed to working with Palmetto Bay to address our serious traffic issues.  We are all committed to working for best solutions that will not harm the quality of life for many, while providing only partial, temporary relief for those who currently suffer intolerable traffic congestion in their neighborhoods.

From County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

Dear Residents:

I am grateful for all of you who provided feedback and engaged in dialogue concerning the 87th Avenue bridge proposal. Over the past few months I have reviewed the proposal objectively and with compassion for all those affected. I do not make decisions on the basis of political expedience. This decision has been extremely difficult.

After full deliberation I determined that I cannot support construction of the bridge at this time. I am greatly concerned that the solution proposed will harm the quality of life for many, while providing only partial, temporary relief for those who currently suffer intolerable traffic congestion in their neighborhoods.
From the time this matter first came to my attention, I have followed these parameters to make my decisions transparent and fair:

  • Comprehensive and continuous resident engagement.
  • Data-driven information gathering.
  • Coordination among the affected neighborhoods and municipalities.

I held two public meetings, spoke with hundreds of residents, observed traffic in the most congested areas first-hand, consulted with dozens of transportation experts and spent hundreds of hours considering the pros and cons of the proposal.
The County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) had pursued this bridge as part of a plan that includes more bridging and that intentionally seeks to disperse traffic through neighborhood streets. I do not believe that this way of thinking protects the quality of life we expect for our neighborhoods. Loss of neighborhood integrity is not inevitable. Building more roads to increase car capacity should be the last thing we consider instead of the first, as we look to a future with a greater range of innovative mobility options.

For too long our community has suffered from lack of a coherent, sensible vision for appropriate growth and transportation management. Such planning is necessary to ensure that growth occurs only where it does not reduce mobility, such as in “transit-oriented” development along major transit routes. As a result of this lack of adequate planning, most of our residents now face crippling commutes with few effective transportation options. Disruptive applications like Waze have also fundamentally altered traffic patterns through otherwise quiet neighborhoods, adding to our congestion woes.

We should not settle for antiquated plans from a car-centric era when new solutions are emerging around the country and world. We need to decrease dependence on one passenger per car commutes. We need to increase access to fast, safe and reliable transit, bicycle, “last mile”, carpool and shared ride services. We need to live and work near the best mobility options. 
We cannot build our way out of today’s traffic snarls with old ways of thinking. Now is the time to embrace the reality that in order to increase mobility, we must get cars off the road.
The Palmetto Bay Council unanimously voted against the 87th Avenue bridge project and remains steadfast in opposition. Concerns include the impact to quiet neighborhoods, the small incremental improvement in traffic congestion, and fear that any benefit would be short-lived as drivers flock to this new connected roadway. The Cutler Bay Council voted unanimously to support the project on the basis that any and all improvements are vital to moving traffic for those currently plagued with crippling congestion during the morning and evening rush hours.
Many Palmetto Bay residents also strongly support the bridge, as they currently suffer from unbearable cut-through congestion, unable to exit driveways and waiting up to 30 minutes to get out of their neighborhood. As frustrations have escalated, so too have aggressive driving and verbal altercations. This cannot continue and I am determined to protect these neighborhoods from this intolerable situation.
In the end, I have weighed resident input, staff analysis and my own review of the information, and concluded that the proposed bridge will not provide significant or lasting relief. The estimated four minutes saved does not justify the extreme disruption of a bridge, when other innovative and future-oriented solutions exist.
I am dedicated to finding win-win solutions for all residents, while looking ahead to significant changes in our traffic patterns and transportation options. I am committed to working with our most affected municipalities, the Village of Palmetto Bay and Town of Cutler Bay, as well as the residents of unincorporated South Miami-Dade who traverse this area daily. 
I will convene a public traffic solutions planning “charrette” in February to explore the range of options that exist. I will expect DTPW, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay to make needed improvements, putting their dollars on the table, and reprogramming the $1.8 million in County funds that had been set aside for the bridge. A list of possible improvements is included below.

Most importantly we will work together to press for rapid decision-making and implementation of the SMART plan in South Dade, bringing “premium” transit to the Transitway. An extension of Metrorail is one of the options, and we know that this solution will help to turn many current car commuters into transit riders.
Here is the preliminary list of alternative traffic solutions that I champion:
2018 Traffic Solutions 

1)   Improve capacity on US 1 and the Transitway, increasing speed and on-time performance for express transit service through adaptive signal technology. DTPW installed these “smart traffic signals” in December.

2)   Partner with Palmetto Bay to construct “turbo” bypass lanes, “reversible” lanesor traffic circles at key intersections on Old Cutler Road. Additional traffic circles at high congestion intersections within the Village of Palmetto Bay are also being explored.

3)   Work with Palmetto Bay to greatly improve commuter service by establishing three new “park & ride” facilities, linked to “IBus” commuter service carrying riders to Dadeland Metrorail station via the Transitway. Palmetto Bay Council is expected to vote on the first location in February.

4)   Press DTPW to realign Bus Route 287 Saga Bay MAX for more efficient express service from Cutler Bay. Work with Cutler Bay to deploy a Cutler Bay on-demand commuter service and van pool service to Dadeland Metrorail.

5)   Introduce a bus “circulator” route for the Princeton/Palm Glade area, in unincorporated Miami-Dade, to connect transit riders to the Transitway and future Turnpike express bus service.

6)   Open a new Park & Ride on the Transitway at Eureka Drive.

7)   Replace more than 50% of the Metrorail fleet with new trains.

8)   Work with Miami-Dade Public Schools to reduce school-related traffic through use of school-based carpooling apps, walk-to-school networks, and pedestrian improvements.

9)   Increase carpooling through use of more incentives and technology solutions, such as purchase of free or reduced cost Transit passes for those who use IBus or carpool.

10) Introduce express commute transit service on the Turnpike, connecting Homestead and Cutler Bay/Palmetto Bay to job centers in Doral and Dadeland. We have been pressing DTPW and the Turnpike Authority to start this service ASAP.

11) Construct bicycle lanes on 136 Street from Old Cutler to US 1.

2019 Traffic Solutions

1)   Complete the Turnpike Expansion project.

2)   Complete SW 137th Avenue construction west of US 1 to provide an alternative north-south connector from Homestead to Doral.

3)   Evaluate the opportunity to include bicycle lanes on 168th Street as part of resurfacing project between Old Cutler and 82nd Ave.

4)   Construct parking garages along the Transitway at Coral Reef Drive and Allapattah Road if the County is awarded a federal TIGER grant (application submitted).

5)   Open a Park & Ride facility in Franjo Triangle for IBus commuters.

6)   Replace all Metrorail cars, expected by end of 2019.

Long-Term Solutions

1)   Complete installation of premium transit service (expansion of Metrorail as the preferred mode) on the Transitway, with improved service and increased ridership. This will reduce congestion and the % of commuters relying on individual car travel.

2)   Increase employment in South Dade through commercial and industrial growth, creating more jobs near home and “reverse commute” traffic patterns.

3)   Explore implementation of a conditional Moratorium on new residential development outside of the SMART corridor zone until premium transit solution begins construction.
To learn what is planned to address our countywide traffic crisis, please attend the County’sTransportation Summit on January 25-26I hope you will also join me and area civic leaders in February (date to be announced) for a Traffic Solutions Charette, a deep dive into South Dade traffic challenges. We will look at the solutions outlined above as well as others you may bring. Together we will create an Action Plan that will lead to real results. In the meantime I will be fighting for enforcement of the existing traffic restrictions, and exploration of additional measures, to assure that the neighborhoods experiencing the worst cut-through traffic get immediate relief.

Please know that I will be by your side fighting for real win-win solutions that look to the future while resolving today’s most urgent challenges.

Yours for a better, safer, more mobile community,

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