Commissioner Suarez presents ideas for South Dade busway

20121210_114636Commissioner Xavier Suarez is challenging residents of Miami-Dade County to “think vertically” when it comes to the South Dade busway. The stretch of bus lane which runs 21 miles from the Dadeland Metro stop to Florida City is getting a serious “re-think” by the County. Currently, a study by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) is being conducted to examine ways to maximize the travel route’s future use.

One proposal from MDX proposes making the route a toll road, widening the road and installing a series of elevated overpasses to mitigate traffic on South Dixie Highway. As one of the communities along the route, the Village of Pinecrest expressed its disapproval of this idea. The Council passed a resolution dated September 11, 2012, rejecting this notion, citing concerns for increased traffic, a negative impact on local businesses and the need to expand rail service southward.

Commissioner Suarez, vice chair of the Miami-Dade Regional Transportation Committee, proposes that the busway be trenched underground for the full 21-mile stretch. His concept uses only 60 of the 100 feet of available right-of-way. The bus trip currently takes about one hour travel time. The proposal could decrease that time to about 20 minutes. Suarez also suggests that pedestrian and bicycle traffic established within linear parks would offer a pleasant aesthetic above the underground busway.

In a brief presentation to the County Commission on December 10, 2012, Suarez stated that the proposal would take care of two problems at once: the underutilized busway and Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) proposed above-grade transmission lines along South Dixie Highway. FPL has had considerable opposition to these lines from the communities that would be affected. Suarez suggests that the underground busway project would present the perfect opportunity for FPL to bury the lines.

Speaking about his proposal, Commissioner Suarez said, “The underground busway will link South Miami-Dade to major commercial and residential areas with an effective transportation system. Everything is there, the space, the rolling stock and the need. This will be a good step forward in improving our public transit connectivity and turn a liability (busway) into an asset.”

Suarez hopes to finance the project using funds from the administration of managed lanes, surtaxes collected from the People’s Transportation Plan, as well as funds that had been ear-marked by FPL for the installation of new transmission lines. Currently, there are no cost estimates for the project.

Commissioner Suarez represents District 7, which includes Miami, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, South Miami, the Village of Key Biscayne and other areas of unincorporated Miami-Dade County. He has three office locations: the Stephen P. Clark Center in downtown Miami, South Miami City Hall and the Frankie Rolle Center on Dixie Highway.

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