I cannot tell you how many meetings I have attended in these last few years in my past position of vice mayor regarding transit. This topic seems to be on everyone’s mind due to the huge volume of cars in our once quiet neighborhoods.
I often wished that I had a solution to this problem and perhaps I do. I notice that DOT, along with the State of Florida, has been widening Florida’s Turnpike in many locations as well as adding entrance and exit lanes to all of the interchanges. I commend them for this because they are doing what many of us fail to do, and that is look to the future.
The future dictates that many, many people will be moving to our area especially south of central Miami. Why? It is obvious to me that any young couple looking for a place to move to and raise their young children would select one of the three major suburban towns — Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay or Cutler Bay. Those with the big bucks will head for the northernmost town, which of course is Pinecrest. The rest of us, those of average income, will choose the other towns. They do have a great deal to offer in the way of better schools, incredible parks and recreation facilities, and local governments that are only minutes away that are there to respond to your needs.
It is a perfect place to move to and I am glad that we made that choice some time ago. Of course when I first moved here Florida’s Turnpike did not extend as far south as it does now, Old Cutler Road was like a private little road that was a pleasure to drive on and view the beautiful scenery and elegant homes along the way.
As a matter of fact, back a few years ago, if I were driving south on Old Cutler Road and saw someone going in the opposite direction, my instinct was to wave because no doubt they had to be somebody that we knew, otherwise what would they be doing on my “private” road?
Many people still see it that way unless you find it necessary to actually drive on it either in the morning when people are going to work and school, the afternoon when parents are picking the children up from school, or the evening when people are returning from work.
You have two choices now traveling north and south which is where most people go — either to work in the Doral area or head to Homestead where all the retail activity seems to be focused — S. Dixie Highway or Old Cutler Road.
The answer being offered by just about anyone running or planning to run for office is that we will soon have Metrorail, or light rail to speed us on our way. I only wish it were that simple.
An experiment was attempted using part of S. Dixie Highway as a busway, now called the transit way. The concept is that everyone will be boarding a train of some sort leaving the rest of the road free for us. I only wish this were true.
The next time you are stuck in traffic, which no doubt will be very soon, look around at the other people as frustrated as you are and ask yourself: would these people be using transit if it were available.
My answer most of the time is absolutely not. Most of them in the morning or late afternoon are either taking children to school or picking them up in the afternoon. Any of you parents out there know what it’s like trying to line up or park in a place where you can pick up your children. Almost impossible at most schools.
I doubt sincerely that any parents would be driving their children to a train station to get to school. As for the rest of us working class people, unless you are fortunate enough to work at the downtown Metro office building you will no doubt have to walk at least several blocks to your final destination or find a local bus to do the same.
This might be fine on a beautiful spring day when the temperature is in the 70s, the sky is clear and everything else is fine. What happens when the temperature gets close to 100 or when we have one of our regular heavy downpours and you have to wait for the bus stop or walk though several blocks to your office? I think I would plan to drive the next day and spend the time sitting in traffic and writing new articles.
I hear people often say that they don’t want our town to become another Dadeland, with high-rise apartment and office buildings and lots and lots of people. What is so bad about that if many of these people can actually find work right in their part of town and have no need to commute by auto?
As a child I grew up with no automobile in our family. Each day my father would walk down the slight hill that we lived on, take the trolley car to a main location for the elevated railway and go from there to his place of business. We did that for many many years and somehow managed to survive.
Talk to anyone who lives in New York City. Many of them do not own automobiles and those who do seldom use them other than to take a trip to Long Island for some rest and recreation.
If you have spent any time in New York they have a magnificent underground rail system with many transfer points that can take you just about anywhere you need to be and still remain within a short walking distance.
Boston, my original town had a similar arrangement though not quite as efficient, but there were several central points where various bus and rail lines met so that you could travel to one place, hop on another bus or train and get where you were going without the need for an automobile.
I don’t really expect people to give up the comfort of their air-conditioned, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected automobile and use public transportation. My solution now is to make it as easy as possible for those people to get where they are going.
Many cities, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, have built elevated highways to move people from one place to another without being on a road such as S. Dixie Highway. It just doesn’t work. Whenever I make this next suggestion I usually hear a lot of boos from the audience because no one even wants to contemplate this idea, but I see the possibility of widening Old Cutler Road to at least keep the traffic moving at a normal pace.
Somehow this road has become sacred, especially to the people with magnificent homes on it, but there are other people who need to use it to travel north and south because in many cases there is no other way other than driving through people’s neighborhoods searching for shortcuts.
If you look at the census figures that our government offers or read the local newspapers you will see that our population is increasing rapidly through new births as well as the huge number of people moving south to get away from the cold weather up north and coming up north from Latin America to avoid getting killed in a gone-bad drug deal or whatever.
In any event they are coming here. We can’t stop them: a huge wall might be nice if we could get someone to build it. Perhaps our president has some ideas on that. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the East West traffic. Stay tuned!