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24 Jul “QUICK-BUILD” PROGRAM TO CREATE BETTER STREETS

Anyone who’s driven in Miami knows that the transit woes run deep. Currently, more than half of those who drive to work, for example, spend at least 30 minutes commuting, which is higher than the U.S. average and comparable metros like San Diego and Houston. Fortunately, projects, such as the county’s S.M.A.R.T. Plan, are underway to make transportation alternatives more accessible. Large scale projects likes these, however, can take years and immense resources to make happen.

In an effort to come up with more immediate solutions and get residents involved in the process, Green Mobility Network launched the Miami-Dade Quick-Build Program in partnership with the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works and Street Plans Collaborative, TransitCenter and The Miami Foundation. More than 60 residents submitted ideas, from the first protected bus lane in Miami, to more than three miles of new protected bike lanes. The 18 winners will now get a budget for materials, technical assistance from Street Plans to help design and build the infrastructure, and an advocacy coach from Green Mobility Network. The Department of Transportation and Public Works will test the ideas, and if successful, have the option to implement them permanently.

“So many great projects get held up either due to lack of funding or support. This program looks to short circuit these pitfalls to get projects built in the short term without over-engineering or getting caught in bureaucratic red tape,” said Tony Garcia, Green Mobility Network board member and lead project planner.

“Teaming up with Green Mobility Network and tapping into the tactical urbanism conversation is an opportunity for the Department to further engage the community and help develop transportation solutions together,” added Alice N. Bravo, P.E., director of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works. “This way, we’re hearing directly from users who know what they want and we’re able to test projects they deem important that will lead to enhancing their experience.”

Big cities across the country from Austin to New York have embraced these “quick-build” projects as a way to make immediate changes and engage the community to help develop transportation solutions together. These projects can also serve as beta tests to figure out longer-term solutions. The idea comes from a method called “Tactical Urbanism.” Take the recent Biscayne Green project in Downtown Miami, which for three weeks in January, transformed three medians along Biscayne Boulevard, normally home to parking lots, into a public space. The project, supported by Knight Foundation and the Public Space Challenge, was a big success and has galvanized support for the long-term conversion of these spaces.

Pictured above: Biscayne Green, a Quick-Build project supported by the Public Space Challenge.
Pictured above: Biscayne Green, a Quick-Build project supported by the Public Space Challenge.

The Quick-Build Program brings that same spirit to transportation solutions. In little Havana, residents will create a dedicated bus and bike only lane on Beacom Boulevard. New protected bike lanes will also come to neighborhoods in the Omni District, West Kendall and South Miami. You’ll see more traffic calming measures like crosswalks and sidewalk enhancements in Coconut Grove, North Miami on 125th Street and downtown on Northeast Third Avenue. Wayfinding signs will also make it easier to use the free trolleys in Coral Gables and city of Miami. And in Miami Shores’ downtown, a pop-up transit village will bring complete streets improvements.

“We’ve been doing this a long time. Our hope is that through this program, we can foster the next generation of transportation advocates to help propel our county forward,” said Maricé Chael, board chair of Green Mobility Network. “In the long term, the hope is that this project will help spur the county to continue to do this work moving forward, being more responsive to citizen needs when it comes to transportation.”

 Green Mobility Network is a past Public Space Challenge winner.

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