Historically, transportation projects that improve accessibility to commercial and industrial areas improve the ability of businesses to provide goods and services.
In fact, the notion that a coordinated system of roadways is of prime significance for commercial purposes can be traced back to the greatest systematic road builders of the ancient world, the Romans. They were very conscious of the clear advantages of a good road system
Now, thousands of years later, we still see the vital role streets and highways play in improving mobility and connectivity. According to a cost-benefit analysis provided by the U.S. Transportation Research Board, transportation projects can have multiple impacts on a community’s economic growth and development objectives in the areas of productivity, employment, business activity, property values, investments, and tax revenues.
From the perspective of commuters, improved mobility provides the ability to access employment and education centers, which in turn can reduce transportation costs and improve travel time. In addition MDX provides special lanes using the shoulders to allow bus express service to travel though them when traffic slows down below 35 miles per hour. When you have better roads, you get better transit service, too.
So this is the crux of the case for the $60 million MDX project now underway, which is extending SR 874/Don Shula Expressway with a ramp connecting to SW 128th Street. Built in partnership with the Turnpike Enterprise, this project will bridge over the Homestead Extension of the Florida’s Turnpike, where the Don Shula ends today, and connects to SW 128th Street. The street will be reconfigured to allow for the ramp system and widened to four lanes, two lanes in each direction, from SW 137th Avenue to SW 122nd Avenue. This improvement will allow for additional traffic to be accepted in and out of the area through the Don Shula ramp.
The new ramp will provide expressway access to the growing southwest Miami-Dade communities that at present are only served by access to and from the Turnpike through SW 120th Street and SW 152nd Street – the most congested segments of the Turnpike. This MDX project will provide a new expressway access principally to the west of the Turnpike, while also improving mobility and reducing congestion there.
And, according to MDX, by working closely with the Turnpike, this project will be significantly less disruptive and much more cost-effective.
Land uses in the immediate vicinity of the project include industrial/warehouse/commercial uses along and beyond SW 128th Street which are stable and fully utilized. The area appears to have few vacancies with some large undeveloped parcels. The ramp connection will have a direct positive influence on these commercial and industrial areas, because it will contribute to increased accessibility and growth in southwest Miami-Dade.
The benefits to the area include increased exposure and commercial viability, regional linkage, and easier access to and from market areas, accessibility for the labor pool, as well as a more clear identity of the commercial area that the ramp serves. Any project that provides new expressway access to local businesses and communities that are underserved by expressway access tend to promote better urban patterns and infill.
The surrounding area is peppered with bedroom communities, located far from SW 128th Street corridor with access to it by SW 122nd and 127th Avenues. These neighborhoods will now be served by the new access to the expressway system currently under construction that will be more accessible and will offer an alternative to the Turnpike or congested local arterials. Community access to the expressway system makes up one of the fundamentals of economic growth in the region.
Not only will the SR 874/Don Shula Ramp Connector allow traffic from the neighborhoods and surrounding commercial areas to enter and exit through the new access but it will also serve the Tamiami Airport as SW 128 Street terminates at the airport and SW 137th Avenue.
Construction on this project started in April 2017 and will continue for about three years, at which time MDX will deliver a project that makes a major difference to this region, by providing shorter commuting times and an opportunity for positive change in the nearby commercial areas.
Astrophysicist and scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson once said, “We don’t build roads to connect point A to B, simply because Point B is a priority. No, we web the highways so people can go to multiple places and invent ways of doing things not thought of by the persons building the roads.”
Go forth, Miami!