The Florida Department of Transportation is currently studying Little Havana's main street, SW 8th Street, also known as Calle Ocho, along with the accompanying SW 7th, going from I-95 as far west as SW 27th Avenue, as part of all the new West Brickell development. Both SW 7th and 8th Streets are now three-lane high speed thoroughfares. Juan Mullerat and Steve Wright of design firm PlusUrbia both live blocks away. Frustrated with the early results they have seen from FDOT so far, PlusUrbia has put together its own proposal that would return Calle Ocho to being a calmer, local main street, like it was 50 years ago.
Originally a 2-way typical American main street, Calle 8 was transformed in the late 60s into the highway we know today. A few years later, the nearby Dolphin Expressway (I-836) was completed. Despite the opening of an elevated east-west speedway into downtown, Calle Ocho's prime stretch between 27th Avenue and I-95 was never converted back into the quaint main commercial core of Little Havana.
PlusUrbia Design proposes to turn Calle 8 back to its original self -- reversing 50 years of disenfranchising neighborhoods and commerce with blight left in the wake of a corridor turned freeway.
The Florida Department of Transportation is currently studying the SW 7th and SW 8th Street corridors. Early meetings have shared FDOT scenarios that seem to be more concerned with vehicle movement than people movement. PlusUrbia, with strong ties to Little Havana, wants to unlock Calle 8's potential by proposing the restoration of the original two-way traffic. The Miami-based urban design firm has created images of a 21st century Calle Ocho with multimodal transportation alternatives such as dedicated bike and transit lanes, comfortable wide sidewalks and additional safe crosswalks in a vibrant urban setting.
"Calle 8 should be for all Miamians to enjoy, not only to drive through. Popular opinion will rescue SW 8th Street from half a century of destruction as "Highway Ocho".
The new layout would have one lane of traffic going in each direction on Calle Ocho, with one bus-only lane and one bicycle lane. With this redesign, SW 7th Street would alos be redesigned to accommodate bike lanes and transit going in the other direction as well. However, according to PlusUrbia's Juan Mullerat:
Right now they work in concert—a change to one would mean a change to the other. Having said that, 7th doesn't have to be re-designed with the same configuration... we are looking at it also, and the reality is that in contrast it is a residential street, so, it has different context and probably requires a different solution.