Public Record Comments from BHA for FDOT

Regarding control of Brickell Avenue….

Message from BHA for FDOT Public Record presented by Gail Feldman, January 21, 2014

For nearly the entire two decades of Brickell Homeowners Association, residents have asked for improvements to Brickell Avenue for safety and quality of life. They have asked for a lower, consistent speed limit for all of Brickell Avenue—30 mph—like all other neighborhoods. They have asked for improved signalization and more crosswalks for the safety of all using the roadway. They have asked for better sidewalks, and maintenance befitting this important avenue of the city.

But the Florida Department of Transportation, which controls Brickell Avenue as part of U.S. Highway 1, has resisted our requests.

…Despite the dramatic changes and Brickell’s transformation to an urban neighborhood.

…Despite the many pedestrians—including children—throughout the area.

…Despite the fatality of a resident crossing the street in front of her building.

…Despite our pleas for improved safety measures.

While we know the City of Miami is not without its challenges and shortcomings, its administrators and elected officials HAVE been responsive to the Brickell community’s needs in the past several years.

We know they share our interest in promoting a vibrant, active urban core where people walk to amenities, activities and restaurants. This is distinct from FDOT’s mission which is to move traffic through corridors quickly.

But Brickell Avenue is no longer a highway. Highways don’t have people jogging, walking, pushing strollers, walking dogs or children. Our neighborhood road should not either.

We want to see, and we believe the City and County will work with us to see:

  • Lower speed limit for all of Brickell, a uniform 30 mph all the way from SE 26th Road to the River.
  • Change in the hybrid, malfunctioning traffic beacon in front of 1814 Brickell Park to a standard pedestrian-activated signal that is universally recognized, understood and obeyed.
  • More signals and crosswalks to allow for safe pedestrian crossing.
  • Left turn arrows at SE 15th and Brickell Avenue intersection.

Message from BHA for FDOT Public Record, submitted February 10, 201

Brickell Avenue is a neighborhood road, not a highway. Thousands of residents live on this street and tens of thousands work on this street.

One was the “elderly woman” mentioned in the Herald article about the Hearing on Jan. 21st. She wasn’t just a nameless victim. She was Rosa Encalada. She was our neighbor here on Brickell for nearly 30 years. She lived at Brickell Bay Club. She was the mother of 8, grandmother to 25 and great-grandmother to 6. Rosa walked daily in the neighborhood, to the grocery store, to church. She caught the bus.

She was a trailblazer for this modern urban neighborhood that was her home. She was a model resident for Brickell, not relying on an automobile. Her walking kept her healthy, her family told us. “We anticipated having her be with us for another 20 years,” they said. She was struck down by a taxicab on the avenue in front of her home.

Brickell Avenue has many pedestrians walking along it and crossing it at all times of the day. Yet, it is operated under the authority of the highway department of the state, which is not concerned with pedestrians.

Residents have asked for lower speed limits. Most neighborhood roads are 30 mph. That’s what Brickell wants. FDOT has repeatedly turned down this request.

Consider these figures:

According to New York City’s transportation department: “If a pedestrian is hit by a car traveling 40 mph or faster, there’s a 70 percent chance that pedestrian will be killed; at 30 mph, there’s an 80 percent chance that the pedestrian will live.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long said that “5% of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, about 40% for vehicles traveling 30 mph, about 80% for vehicles traveling 40 mph, and nearly 100% for speeds over 50 mph.”

The speed limit at the time Rosa Encalada was killed on Brickell Avenue was 40 mph. It is unknown what speed the taxicab was traveling on the night it struck her down.

We want a safer street. We want local control.