Improved interstate accesses, people-friendly roads are theme of 2020 plan for downtown Miami
By Paola Iuspa
Preliminary recommendations for downtown Miami's 20-year transportation master plan include improving I-95 access to downtown, turning 26 streets into pedestrian-friendly corridors and converting 17 others into two-way roads.
The $550,000 report will be ready by early September, said Timothy Plummer, president of David Plummer & Associates, who was hired by the city to do the study.
Changes most likely to be adopted include adding an I-95 northbound on-ramp at north Eighth Street to allow access to westbound State Road 836 and improving pedestrian access on roads such as Miami Avenue, from the north bank of the Miami River to North Sixth Street and on Flagler Street from I-95 to the bay.
Some of the roads proposed for a two-way conversion are Miami Avenue from Northeast Sixth to 14th streets, South Eighth and Seventh streets from I-95 to Brickell Avenue, Biscayne Boulevard Way from Southeast Second Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard and Southeast Second and Third streets from Second Avenue to the boulevard.
More complex and costly solutions that will be mentioned in Mr. Plummer's recommendations include a Miami River tunnel to link the Brickell area to downtown and a tunnel to connect the port with I-395.
The master plan initiative, headed by City of Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton and Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, has the support of a "loose congregation of a variety of downtown interests from the private and public sectors," said Frank Baron, a transportation specialist with the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization, also participating in the plan.
City planners, downtown Brickell and Omni-area neighbors, business owners, community-based groups, Port of Miami officials, the Downtown Development Authority, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the US Coast Guard, the Florida Department of Transportation and Miami-Dade Transit as well as elected officials, he said, have participated in the process. Using information from more than 15 public meetings, other studies on the area and Miami-Dade County computer software on population growth, Mr. Plummer is proposing in all more than 60 improvements for the downtown area.
Mr. Winton said a global vision for all downtown would benefit the city and the county when applying for federal grants.
"It should be easier to get real dollars,' Commissioner Winton said, "because you have a model that connects all the dots."
Mr. Plummer, who said his recommendations could change when he incorporates the city's land-use rules into his report, plans to submit them to commissioners in July. Knowing what kind of development is permitted in each block will help him project future traffic problems and come up with alternatives to ease congestion for the next 20 years, he said.
Before going to the commission, proposed improvements will be simulated into computer software now being developed, Mr. Plummer said. The program will be ready in about three months, when the city will be able to use it to calculate the impact of the new proposals.