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Two Brickell Avenue Milestones Achieved

A large portion of Brickell Avenue, officially part of U.S. Highway 1, is finally under the control of the city instead of the state. This means that the long-sought changes needed to make Brickell Avenue safer for pedestrians—as well as for drivers—can be addressed by City and County government. At least, those are the hopes and dreams of BHA residents.

The top changes needed include:

  • Lowering the speed limit to 30 mph for all of Brickell Avenue, beginning at Southeast 26th Road, which will make it uniform all the way to the Brickell Bridge.
  • Replacing the bewildering pedestrian signal at the 1800 block that’s unlike any other signal people have ever seen or can understand.
  • Adding left turn arrows to the traffic signal at the intersection of Brickell Avenue and Southeast 15th Road.

Miami Police support the neighborhood’s outcry to lower the speed limit of Brickell Avenue and agree that it’s a first-step to making Brickell safer for pedestrians. Over many years FDOT has refused multiple appeals from BHA to make Brickell Avenue 30 mph. It’s 30 mph on Brickell north of Southeast 15th Road, and on the vast majority of neighborhood streets 30 mph is the norm.

BHA is pushing the City of Miami, and Miami-Dade County, which is in charge of traffic signalization, to make sure these issues receive top priority and get fixed.

Endlessly patient Brickell residents are eager to see the changes since more than one year ago they thought jurisdiction regarding traffic issues was a done deal.

Back in June 2013, City of Miami officials agreed to the exchange in jurisdiction through a brokered agreement with officials from the Florida Department of Transportation led by Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and Florida Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. The transfer was delayed, however, when Florida Senator Gwen Margolis objected to the state relinquishing any control, and was quoted saying, “The street is fine; there’s nothing lacking. There’s no way to slow down traffic on Brickell.”

With the transfer of jurisdiction now complete, the Brickell neighborhood benefits.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Commissioner Sarnoff and Senator Diaz de la Portilla for spearheading this effort,” said BHA President Gail Feldman .

“The only downside is that the change in authority encompasses Brickell Avenue from 1-95 north to Southeast Eighth Street,” Feldman added. “We wanted the remaining few blocks of Brickell to the Miami River—from Southeast Eighth to Southeast Fourth Street,— but FDOT wouldn’t agree.

Improvement Plan nearing completion

The other major milestone project on Brickell Avenue, the Brickell Avenue Improvement Plan, finally commenced in late spring, despite some early snags, and while not perfect, it is almost finished.

A few remaining “punch list” items include trees that will need to be replaced by the retained contractor after failing to adapt to their new environs. An October completion is expected.

Residents are pleased with the new, wider sidewalks that better accommodate the varied mix of walkers, strollers, joggers and others in the neighborhood. All queried agree the additional landscaping and the trees are a significant neighborhood improvement and hope they thrive further enhancing the canopy of Brickell.

Significant New Issues Identified

Next on BHA’s advocacy agenda are issues pertaining to the northern part of Brickell Avenue still under the City’s control. A hot July walkabout of Brickell from Southeast 9th to 15th Road with BHA Vice President Bill Fitch, Commissioner Sarnoff, Capital Improvements Director Mark Spanioli and Public Works Director Ed Santamaria identified multiple safety and aesthetic concerns including:

  • Damaged sidewalks
  • Damaged manhole and utility covers
  • Abandoned bollard holes
  • Poor sidewalk patch jobs
  • Sidewalk issues creating tripping hazards
  • Missing crosswalk striping
  • Missing pedestrian signals
  • Blocked sidewalks causing potential ADA safety compliance issues

Commissioner Sarnoff asked the participating City departments to formulate an estimate to correct the discrepancies. He also vowed to work on the similar issues on Brickell from Southeast 8th Street to the River to determine if those are matters under FDOT’s control. If this is the case, he said he would ask that FDOT address them.

From BHA News Vol. XXIV No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014