Town Hall meeting on project set for Nov. 14

The Village of Pinecrest, Chamber South, the Economic Development Council and Cutler Bay Mayor Edward MacDougall will co-host the first ever South Dade Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 6-9 p.m. at Pinecrest Gardens. We will explore, inspect, discuss and debate the proposed US1 Express Toll Lane Project.

There is currently a study under way by MDX (Miami-Dade Expressway Authority) as authorized by the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) under the authority of the Miami-Dade County Commission, to put cars and tolls on the 20-mile busway from Kendall Drive to Homestead. This study is targeted to continue until 2015. The current proposal is for either a two-tiered, above-grade expressway or a roller coaster series of overpasses that would be built over key intersections to create an expressway.

MDX will be invited to provide charts and graphs in the Hibiscus Room in Pinecrest Gardens from 6-7 p.m. to explain their plan.

MoveMiamiDade, a grassroots transit group, also will be in the Hibiscus Room presenting transit alternatives.

The Town Hall Meeting from 7-9 p.m. in the Pinecrest Gardens Banyan Bowl will be moderated by former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katie Sorenson. The panel members include Javier Rodriguez, executive director of MDX; Tony Garcia, of; Andrew Georgiadis, urban planner; and Holly White, a community homeowner association representative. The public will be encouraged to submit questions in advance on index cards for the panel. No questions or statements will be allowed from the floor.

The alternative to a US1 Express Toll Lane Project would be transit. Indeed, in 2002, the voters approved a transit vision and the Federal Government provided $80 million to fund this vision. The idea of connecting all of South Dade goes back many years. Currently served by Bus Rapid Transit and emergency vehicles, the transit question becomes: Do we leave the Busway as it is or do we provide trolleys, light rail or tri rail or Metrorail?

As to exactly what transit would or should look like, we leave that to future discussion by the people of South Dade. Our concern now is that if the US1 Express Toll Lane is built, the transit alternative will no longer exist. It would then be too late.

The Village of Pinecrest has declared its concerns and opposition to the Express/Toll Lane Roller Coaster alternative by resolution dated Sept. 11, 2012.

The Village Council passed Resolution No 2012-55 requesting that the study be suspended, the project removed from longrange plans and the focus be re-directed to rapid transit improvement as approved by the voters in 2002.

It is not often that we have an opportunity as a community to stand up and truly be heard and all of us make a difference. All of those living on both sides of US1 will be greatly affected by this choice: Do we opt for more roads and tolls (and a roller coaster to boot!) or do we provide a transit alternative to connect the communities of South Dade with the rest of the County?

We invite, encourage and welcome all citizens from Kendall to Homestead and Florida City to attend this first of its kind Town Hall Meeting. We further invite and encourage all elected officials in Miami- Dade, the Citizens Transportation Board, the MPO representatives, the board of MDX and all interested parties to attend. Let the community be heard and a real dialogue about our connectivity to the rest of the county begin.

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