On Wednesday Miami-Dade officials voted in favor of a hotly debated plan to build a new multilane highway through the Everglades to serve the county’s West Kendall community.
Commissioners approved the project by a 9-2 margin despite testimony from opponents claiming the $650 million undertaking would only make traffic worse, encourage suburban sprawl, siphon funding from future mass transit improvements, and threaten the Bird Drive Basin wetlands.
While officially known as the Kendall Parkway, the 13-mile proposal has earned the nickname of “another sexy highway” in a sarcastic marketing campaign launched by Transit Alliance Miami. The website even features an absurd jingle touting the road’s many “benefits.”
Although Miami’s notoriously bad traffic ranked fifth worst in the country, the county’s plan to extend the Dolphin Expressway/State Road 836 seems to be at odds with evidence that more highways only lead to more driving and traffic—a condition economists call induced demand.
A recent Miami Herald op-ed piece by Richard Grosso called the project a “big and destructive step backward” and claimed officials were “addressing traffic problems in the 21st century with a 1970s solution.”
The final route of the proposed extension is still being refined, but the new highway will cross over the county’s Urban Development Boundary, a line that separates protected natural lands from developments like subdivisions and malls. Opponents say the road would threaten wetland habitats and compromise an ongoing water management project designed to mitigate flooding.
With the fresh stamp of approval from Miami-Dade commissioners, the Kendall Parkway proposal will head to Tallahassee additional recommendations from the state and then back to the county for final OKs. Work could begin as early as this year, with financing coming from tolls generated by the future highway.
Although the project will feature a bus service component, the relative lack of mass transit serving outlying areas of the county could see the new roadway quickly jam with cars. If that’s indeed the case, will leadership propose another, “another sexy highway” to address the issue?
This is the same argument we hear every time development into the wetlands happens: there are already people there, they need a store, the store needs a highway, the highway already ruined the wetlands and we need housing, the residents need relief from traffic...— TransitAllianceMiami (@TransitMIA) June 20, 2018
Commish Jordan: Critics say the 836 will probably spur development outside the Urban Development Boundary. "It probably will." She supports the extension.— Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) June 20, 2018