On June 13, control of Brickell could shift from FDOT

But your voice is needed. Pending before the City of Miami Commission is proposed legislation that would have the Florida Department of Transportation and the City of Miami swap jurisdiction over several Miami streets. If approved, control of Brickell Avenue from Southeast Eighth Street to I-95 would pass from the FDOT to the elected Miami government officials and Miami Police who have supported the community’s outcry to lower the speed limit and make Brickell safer for pedestrians.

The BHA Board unanimously approved a resolution in support of this strategy to gain local control of their main thoroughfare. Brickell residents are urged to send a message to Miami City Commissioners immediately as the matter will come before the Commission for a second reading on June 13. Three of five votes are needed for approval and thus far the item has two of the votes. Call each Commissioner, or email them this message or something similar in your own words:

“The Brickell community needs local control over its main street to better protect the pedestrians who live, work and play here. Please approve the proposed plan to give the City of Miami jurisdiction over Brickell Avenue from Southeast Eighth Street to I-95.”

How this came about

The swap concept began with Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who has been BHA’s biggest advocate on this issue, who also enlisted the help of Florida Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. When the Commissioner approached the Senator about the safety concerns of Brickell earlier this year, the Senator included the swap in a larger piece of legislation that passed in the Florida session that just ended.

However, the deal has yet to be approved by the Miami City Commission. The measure did not pass upon first reading on May 23, but some Commissioners may not have had the opportunity to fully consider how important the issue is to the Brickell neighborhood. Commissioners Francis Suarez, Michelle Spence-Jones, and Frank Carollo voted against it. The proposed trade directly impacts Commissioner Spence-Jones because some of the streets are in her district. In the meantime, Commissioner Sarnoff is seeking a swap that will not impact any other commissioner’s district. (See City’s Resolution detailing the proposed swap streets.)

FDOT made some changes

Residents welcomed the fixes that FDOT finally put in place in April at the urging of BHA and elected officials. FDOT had promised these compromises last July when our community’s elected leadership and BHA met with Florida Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad and FDOT District VI Secretary Gus Pego. Among other items, community leaders and BHA requested that the Brickell Avenue speed limit be kept at 30 mph post-completion of the latest roadway project.

BHA has advocated for slowing down Brickell traffic for most of the organization’s 23 years, but the need has become more acute as the urban community has grown and become dense with people of all ages. In December 2011 FDOT officials agreed to lower the speed limit from 40 to 30 mph during the roadway reconstruction project, but vowed that it would go back up to 35 mph upon completion. In April, the FDOT removed the unsightly black garbage bags covering the newly placed speed limit signs, reminding residents of who’s the boss in our neighborhood.

The proposed measure will enable the City of Miami to support the new urban community that is unique to Brickell.

“We can say that pedestrians are priority on Brickell Avenue,” Commissioner Sarnoff said.

From BHA News Vol. XXIII No. 1, Spring/Summer 2013