The FDOT came.  They listened to our concerns. They’ve revised their plans to something even worse.  A full elevated highway that connects State Road 112 to State Road 826 (aka the Palmetto Expressway).

Back in June, we shared details from a meeting with the Florida Department of Transportation proposing changes and options for NW 36th Street.  To summarize, they had proposes several options to 36th Street that included:

  • Elevated Roadway (from the railyard 36th Street overpass to the Palmetto)
  • Creating Dedicated Truck Lanes
  • Creating Dedicated Transit Lanes
  • Expanding the sidewalk on the south side of 36th Street
  • A new overpass from State Road 112 westbound over LeJeune
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To view the entire original presentation, see the link below.

FDOT Presents Options for NW 36th Street

FDOT SUMMARY OF PUBLIC MEETING #1:

MAIN CONCLUSIONS:

  • Concerns from cities about elevated section
  • Need for bicycle/pedestrian facilities
  • Project impacts to businesses and residences
  • Concerns about freight traffic increasing
  • Incorporation of light rail transit

PAT Meeting #1:

  • Elevated section considered in the Western Segment
  • Interest in smart lights
  • Iron Triangle recommendations
  • Review emergency evacuation
  • Review land use changes in City of Miami
  • Integrate land use and transportation decisions

Public Workshop #1:

  • Missing or unsafe bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  • Consistent sidewalks throughout the corridor
  • Integration with SMART plan
  • Improvements to exit SR 112/I-195 and US 1
  • Potential impacts to businesses and residences
  • Intersection improvements

Miami Springs City Council Meeting:

  • Inquired about study timeline
  • Asked about Iron Triangle Interchange Study and any plans to connect SR 112 to SR 826
  • Concerned about freight traffic
  • Asked to consider light rail on the corridor

FDOT SUMMARY OF PUBLIC MEETING #2:

MAIN CONCLUSIONS:

  • Concerns from cities about elevated section
  • Need for bicycle/pedestrian facilities
  • Concerns about freight traffic increasing
  • Preference for Traffic Operations/TSM&O improvements

PAT Meeting #2:

  • Concerns with Iron Triangle Study and proposed extension bringing challenges to the community
  • Increase in freight mobility causing more air/noise pollution
  • Consider SR 836 more viable to expand for east west movements
  • Concerned about travel speeds with no buffer between the sidewalk
  • Information needed for the bike network plan
  • Sidewalks should have buffer from roadway
  • Midblock crossings can be added without a raised median

Public Workshop #2:

  • Trucks from NW 25 Street should be rerouted to avoid Miami Springs
  • Goal to increase freight traffic or make it flow faster
  • Concern using the Palmetto Expressway on/off ramps
  • Don’t want overpass on NW 36 Street
  • Recommend traffic operations improvements
  • Focus should not be on bicycle/pedestrian
  • Resident proposed turbo lanes on NW 36 Street
  • Better sidewalks and beautification

Elected Officials Briefings:

  • Miami Springs: Like TSM&O options, against elevated roadways, for wider sidewalks on north side, and focus on SR 836
  • Virginia Gardens: Opposed any elevated road in area, focus on NW 25 Street, and extend SR 112 ramps past Le Jeune Road
  • City of Miami: Crucial to balance multimodal needs in east, and evaluate I-195 ramps
  • District Five: Interest in transit connectivity, against sharrows, better bike facilities, and improve signage at Iron Triangle

This study looks at NW 36th Street from the Palmetto Expressway on the west, all the way till US-1 on the East.  For the purposes of Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens, we’re focused on the “Western Segment” highlighted below.

The FDOT created the following matrix.  Here you’ll see a new proposal for 6 lanes (as we have today) plus 2 new elevated lanes.  This had not been presented to us in the past.

Lots of “green” colors in the FDOT chart supporting 6 ground lanes and 2 elevated lanes.  (Let’s call it what it is. An elevated 2 lane highway over NW 36th Street.)

Discussion of Alternatives

  • No-Build Alternative
  • TSM&O Alternative
  • Capacity Build Alternative – 6+2 Elevated
  • Lane Repurposing Build Alternative Two Build Alternatives

FDOT No-Build Alternative Pros/Cons

PROS:

  • Less costly than Build Alternatives
  • Supported by Virginia Gardens/Miami Springs
  • Less disruptive to businesses/community

CONS:

  • Does not address Purpose and Need (Who’s Purpose?  Who’s Need? – Ed)
  • Does not address future traffic conditions
  • Does not improve bicycle/pedestrian conditions
  • Does not improve high crash locations

FDOT Proposes 36th Street Highway

What is 6 + 2 Elevated?  It’s 6 ground lanes.  3 westbound lanes.  3 eastbound lanes.  Plus, a 2 lane elevated highway.

FDOT 36 Street Highway Distance

The proposed 36th Street Elevated Expressway would connect State Road 112 to the Palmetto Expressway.

This is an exaggerated view of what it would look like.  I use the term exaggerated because we lack a center median on NW 36th Street that is as wide as what is depicted below through the majority of 36th street.  We also lack the wide sidewalks depicted below.

By viewing the image above you can also imagine the addition of future columns along the pedestrian sidewalks to support future widening from a 2 lane elevated expressway to a full scale 6 lane highway.

Make no mistake.  An elevated highway along NW 36th Street will dramatically increase the amount of road noise.   The ground traffic already makes plenty of noise from trucks, speeding motorcycles, and other vehicles.  But at least at ground level, there are many ground level structures, trees, and other obstacles that block out or bounce back some of the road noise.   An elevated highway will have much faster vehicles flying of Miami highway speeds.  The speed of faster cars and the accompanying whoosh associated with highway traffic will now be projected to all the residents of Miami Springs and VG.  Furthermore, since the highway is elevated, the noise will encounter far less structural and natural barriers.  in other words, noise from an elevated highway will travel into our community more freely.  And that’s before we add the noise from Florida Highway Patrol and Miami-Dade County flying through the 36th Street Elevated Highway.

Those who live near Hialeah know what it’s like to hear the sirens that blast from Okeechobee Road.  Add a highway and you’re putting that noise on steroids.

Miami Springs Elevated Expressway
Palmetto Expressway Connection 

We might as well give the new 36th Street Elevated Highway a nickname.  The Miami Springs “El Espress-whey”.  (Get it.  Elevated Expressway.)

Note in the FDOT depiction below how the Miami Springs Expressway gets inbound traffic from the Southbound Palmetto (Depicted in highlighter green).  The northbound Palmetto traffic can also head east on the Miami Springs Expressway (Depicted n blue.)

Westbound traffic on the Miami Springs Expressway can connect to the Palmetto northbound as depicted in red.  Westbound traffic on the proposed Miami Springs “El”evated Expressway can also head southbound on the Palmetto as depicted in highlighter orange.  (You may squint a little as it’s hard to see it.)

Above and below, you see how the Miami Springs Elevated Expressway would follow NW 36th Street.

The highway will follow all the bends and curves of the existing 36th Street corridor.

In the depiction below, you see how the Miami Springs Elevated Expressway will connect to the State Road 112 Expressway.  And I can almost guarantee you, this will be yet another toll road.

Miami Springs Expressway Pros & Cons

MIAMI SPRINGS EXPRESSWAY PROS
(As listed by the FDOT):

  • Previous Studies and Plans have recommended it (Superarterial/grade separations).
    (This is child logic: Repeating an argument over and over is considered a pro by FDOT standards.  Why not just point out the benefits, if any from the prior study.)
  • NW 72 Avenue/Milam Dairy Road and Le Jeune Road identified as high crash locations for motorized and non-motorized.
    (Accidents will not be eliminated at these intersections, but I’ll give them a possibility of some reduction…maybe.)
  • Beneficial for freight, trade, and Miami International Airport
    (Does that mean they’re adding access points to M.I.A. not depicted in the plans?)
  • Industrial/commercial land use.
    (This bullet point makes no sense.  They might as well say Miami is hot.)
  • Increases capacity and reliability
    (Agreed.)
  • Economic growth/Support for MIA, Cargo Expansion
    (I’m still confused how this supports MIA. I don’t see any ingress/egress points to this proposed highway from M.I.A.)
  • May increase safety and reduce delays
    (Maybe.)
  • Is on the National Highway Freight Network
    (Means nothing.)
  • Is an evacuation route
    (FDOT is reaching.)
  • 2045 LRTP Need
    (Means nothing.)
  • Bicycle/pedestrian facilities can be improved and enhanced at-grade
    (Don’t need an expressway to do this.)
  • Can provide improved regional connectivity (east-west) as supported by Connecting the Highways Missing Links
    (Miami Springs shouldn’t pay for the County’s lack of planning in Doral.  Put a highway in Doral.)
  • Can provide future Automated Vehicle Corridor
    (No different than any other road.)

MIAMI SPRINGS EXPRESSWAY CONS
(As listed by the FDOT):

  • Cost
    (The most expensive part of any highway are the bridges.  This would be the longest elevated highway (excluding causeways) in Miami-Dade County south of the Golden Glades.)
  • Not favored by Virginia Gardens
    (Because it’ll deteriorate the quality of life for residents and businesses.)
  • Not favored by Miami Springs
    (Because it’ll deteriorate the quality of life for residents and businesses.)
  • Visual/aesthetics
    (Who’s going to pay top dollar to stay at a 36th Street Hotel with a Highway in front of it?  This will guarantee low rent hotels forever.)
  • Visibility of local businesses
  • Traffic passing through area without stopping to support local business
  • Constructability
  • Noise
    (An elevated highway will add a tremendous amount of high speed wind noise, vehicle and tire noise, truck noise, and motorcycle noise.  It will also become a preferred route for FHP, Miami-Dade Police, and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue that currently use SR 836.)

More Cons Not Considered by FDOT:

  • Every highway in Miami gets expanded.  If they add a 2 lane highway now, it’ll be a 6 lane highway in 10 years.
  • Local property value depreciation.
  • More pollution.
  • Say goodbye to the Royal Palm Trees and other foliage along NW 36th Street and say hello to the concrete jungle.
  • This highway is contrary to the look and image of a welcoming area for tourists.
  • Why is Miami Springs paying the price for unencumbered growth in Doral?
  • More crime.
    Yes.  I said it.  The nicer your neighborhood looks, the less likely you are to see certain crimes.  However, put an elevated highway and we’re going to look a lot less Miami Springs and a lot more Detroit.
  • More homeless people.
    Ever since the Homeless Trust used the Red Roof Inn for housing, our neighborhood has seen an increase in homeless crime and calls to Miami Springs Police and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.  Put an elevated highway and you’re guaranteeing a permanent increase in the Miami Springs / VG homeless population.
  • Stunting our future opportunities.
    Nothing premium will ever be developed along NW 36th Street if we add an elevated highway.

Let’s be frank!

  • 100% of the benefits are for our neighbors.
  • Who benefits?
    • Miami International Airport
    • Port of Miami
    • Doral
  • Who doesn’t benefit?
    • Miami Springs / VG Residents
    • Miami Springs / VG Businesses & Property Owners

This project is nothing more than a big middle finger to every resident and property owner in Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens.  It says that the benefits for our neighbors are more important than any cost to our neighborhood.  Well the heck with them.

Solution

  • Extend State Road 112 through the airport itself.
  • Put the noise on airport property.
  • Yes.  That means FDOT will have to pay to buy some airport property.  But they may also benefit by not having to build a fully elevated highway along the entire stretch.
  • The new “Airport Expressway” can then connect to the Palmetto along the 25th Street Corridor.

THOUGHTS?

What do you think?  Are there any positives we didn’t consider that would benefit Miami Springs residents?  Are there other cons we should add to our list?  Do you have an alternative that would alleviate traffic without adding a highway along nw 36th Street.

Please add your comments in the comments section below.  We want to be able to share your feedback, either for or against this project with the Florida Department of Transportation.

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