A Miami – Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) project to install express car toll lanes on the 19.8-mile South Dade Busway got its initial review by a newly named 13-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) on Apr. 3.
Expansion of the existing 100-foot right-of-way was raised during the first CAC meeting at Coral Reef Public Library after MDX consultant Alan Brick-Turin led a nearly one hour review on project procedures and study parameters, opened by Mayra Diaz, MDX planning manager.
Private vehicle use, similar to the successful I-95 speed lanes north of downtown Miami, would charge tolls by flexible rates, depending upon traffic flow, Brick-Turin indicated.
In an accompanying “Frequently Asked Questions” document, the MDX states (in part): “The project will consider increasing the number of travel lanes and constructing overpasses and/or underpasses so that traffic on the Busway can travel over intersecting streets.”
Mary Williams, former Continental Park Homeowner Association president, questioned how MDX could create a fifth reversible lane to accommodate peak commuter traffic in a four-lane Busway without expansion into its existing green space, bike and pedestrian paths.
Dissatisfied with an answer that she “was getting ahead of them [MDX],” Williams said she intended to discuss the matter further with James MacDonald, chair of the Village of Pinecrest Transportation Advisory Committee, also a CAC/Busway member.
Diaz later told the Gazette that while the study “is intended to remain within the existing right-of-way, we also look at right-of-way setbacks of various buildings to determine what might be considered as an improvement alternative.”
She said most PD&E studies normally have “only three or four” alternatives listed in its Tier 1 study process but “because of differing characteristics of the north, middle and south areas of the South Dade Corridor, we have started with more than a dozen to look at all potential solutions at the project’s outset.”
Additional meetings and workshops are scheduled in 2012 with a public hearing tentatively set for June 2013 to consider final recommendations. Organized for quarterly meetings, the CAC is scheduled to review alternatives that may be discarded in the continuing study process during May.
In addition to Williams and MacDonald, the committee with specific organization identities includes Peter England, vice chair of the Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade; Holly White, current Continental Park HOA president; Taheem Acevedo, office manager of the Carrie Meek Center for Business Enterprise; Dr. Willie Wright, president of Goulds Council of Ministers and Laypersons Inc.
Not associated with a specific group are Dorothy Haase, Lisa Riley, Ed Hanna, Joseph Tomlin, Gary J. Duifek and Robert Wilcosky, the latter a former chair of the East Kendall Community Council.
Committee members were chosen to represent the entire South Dade area, including residents from the west side and from the municipalities, explained Tere Garcia, an MDX spokesperson.
The “US1 Express” Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study by MDX dates back to May 2011 when MDX began data collection from Miami-Dade Transit and Florida Department of Transportation to evaluate express or managed bus lanes, first reviewed during a public kickoff meeting in September 2011 at the Dice House at Continental Park.
Study objectives include improving transit service and current bus operations, maximizing use of the roadway’s capacity and existing right-of-way, relieving US1 and intersecting street traffic congestion and pinpointing possible funding for future improvements.
For updated details on the project, call 305-637-3277 or visit online at www.mdxway.com.