The Underline: A 10-mile linear park for Miami

The Underline is perhaps the most exciting public-private partnership project to come to the residents of Miami-Dade in a long time. This project could forever transform the land below Miami’s Metrorail into a 10-mile linear park and urban trail. Many BHA Board members and other attendees heard about it at the March BHA meeting where we were impressed and inspired by the concept Meg Daly presented. The BHA Board voted to endorse the project that evening. The Underline has now become a vision embraced by many in our community.

Imagining the Possibilities


Rendering of Brickell station, courtesy LandscapeDE.

The public is being asked for input. BHA representatives and more than 70 people gathered at the Downtown Public Library one April evening to attend an Underline Public Meeting focused on our Brickell area. Not to worry if you missed that meeting as there’s another opportunity, on Tuesday, June 23, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Vizcaya’s Garage, located immediately north of the Museum of Science parking lot, 3280 S. Miami Avenue, across from the Vizcaya mansion. Residents are invited to see plans and provide input.

At the first public meeting, attendees heard from public officials and the recently announced master design team of James Corner Field Operations, chosen through a competitive process involving 19 of the country’s leading landscape and urban design and architecture firms. Best known for their design of New York City’s High Line, Field Operations is focused on creating The Underline linear park with over 120 acres of open space and an off-road urban trail providing an alternative mode of transportation to our congested city streets. The master plan is slated to be completed by September.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez opened the meeting speaking about the need to provide transportation alternatives of a significant scale for Miami-Dade County. As we’re all too aware, Miami-Dade lags behind other large metropolitan areas in the U.S. and other countries in addressing transportation issues. The Commissioner said that this project would play an important role in solving those problems with The Underline as “Phase 1” of implementing a larger network for biking and walking. He vowed to work with politicians at the city and state level to advocate for this park and trail initiative.


Designed by the team chosen for Miami’s Underline, the High Line is a 1.45-mile-long linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line.

Jack Kardys, Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces (PROS) Director then talked about the need for greenways and trails throughout Miami-Dade County and that the future Underline is part of PROS master plan. He also recognized Maria Nardi and Meg Daly for their hard work and commitment to The Underline project.

An Ambitious Vision?

Lisa Switkin, principle with the design firm, shared with attendees how 10 years ago the High Line seemed impossible, but they were able to convert a blighted, abandoned rail line into a beloved icon in New York. In Miami, James Corner Field Operations is also working on an upcoming project for Lincoln Road in Miami Beach and the Knight Plaza in Museum Park. They also designed The Atlanta Beltline, Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Antwerp Green in Belgium and Central Waterfront in Seattle.

The design team views The Underline as the “spine” for existing completed and proposed bike trails. It will pass through eight Metrorail stations and three municipalities. It should allow for multi-modal transportation, should be an iconic public space, an ecological corridor, take advantage of the ample shade provided by the overhead Metrorail and have transit-oriented development.


Lisa Switkin presents examples of James Corner Field Operations projects around the world.

Challenges to overcome include existing safety, lighting, path width, intersections, sharp turns, identity, wayfinding and user visibility.

The master plan will have projected funding sources and maintenance costs. The design team is focused on three major aspects:

  • Park and Trail – There should be multimodal corridors for various users. It should embrace the biking culture, local ecologies and habitats, and have excellent lighting that makes use of green initiatives such as solar power and efficient use of water. Helpful wayfinding is important here as well.
  • Intersections – The plan will address redesign to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Transit Oriented Development – Development should be bike and pedestrian friendly. There should be development incentives in sections that are depressed.


At the first Brickell Public Meeting L-R: Meg Daly, Sanjukta Sen, Lisa Switkin and Isabel Castilla.

The benefits of this creation include encouraging healthy lifestyles; providing an easily accessible place to exercise; creating a mobility corridor that integrates transit, car, biking and walking; providing a 10-mile canvas for artistic expression, attracting development along US1, and generation of a significant economic impact.

The 10-mile Underline will be Miami-Dade County’s first mobility corridor integrating all modes of transit. The Underline will connect to downtown on the north and to the proposed Ludlam Trail and the existing South Dade Trail on the south.

Friends of The Underline want to hear from you and what you think The Underline should include. Visit www.theunderline.org, click Take a Survey at the bottom right to provide input. •

BHA passed a resolution in support of The Underline at its March 2015 meeting (see below).