More Highways A Drain on The Economy

MDX wants to further subsidize suburban sprawl with a new toll expressway at the western edge of the county.

Meanwhile, more than 25% of county residents live on little over 5% of the land – a staggering concentration of people in a relatively small area, yet investments are being made that are out of step with these demographic changes.

The idea that Miami-Dade is a suburban county pervades popular thought, but these numbers tell a different story. The time when Miami-Dade lacked sufficient density to invest in mass transit has passed, and the demographic shift toward the city center is ever increasing. A recent Pew Center study highlighted the shift away from car culture among the 50 million Millennials in the United States, a trend that we see here in Miami. The rate of car ownership has fallen among this group over the last thirty years from 38% in 1985 to 27% in 2013. How will our city thrive in the coming decades if the generation to come eschews the vision of autocentric suburban America? This is the essence of the brain drain Miami-Dade is experiencing.

It will take bold leadership from our elected officials to turn away from the status quo, and bring forth a new vision for transportation in Miami. One such leader is Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who recently penned a letter to the MDX board that described our challenge in clear terms:

Your proposed new tolls, covering the entirety of SR 836, and including a cost of living increase, are nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment for urban dwellers who have very little alternative due to our inefficient and overly costly system of mass transportation.

Commissioner Suarez is correct: without any alternative, the increase in toll rates places an onerous burden on the driving public; however, the real issue for current and future leaders is not simply toll increases, but the lack of alternative forms of transportation. Mass transit is costly and complicated to implement, but cities are complex places. Continuing on the path of suburban sprawl and highway expansion may be the cheap and easy route, but as my grandfather was fond of saying, lo barato sale caro (cheap things turn out more expensive in the end). The cost to our region will be great if do not diversify our transportation network and ensure that coming generations are not beholden to their cars.

One thought on “More Highways A Drain on The Economy”

  1. All of the alternatives for the proposed SR 836 extension go over the wellfield protection zones for the Northwest and the West Wellfields, the source of almost all of the potable water for Miami-Dade County. It would appear that any accident involving a vehicle containing potential contaminants (gas truck, chemical tank truck, hazardous waste truck, etc.) could destroy the County’s source of drinking water for many decades to come. The State of Florida has already ordered the County years ago not to take any additional water as our our only potable water aquifer was in danger of being contaminated by salt water intrusion aggravated by both over pumping water out of the aquifer and the rising sea level. The continued protection of essentially our only sources of drinking and irrigation water would appear to be a major goal of our elected policy makers and our environmental, health and utility agencies. Such continued protection can only be ensured by restricting any development that has any possibility of the accidental contamination of this most precious resource.

Leave a Reply to Chris Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.